Archive for the ‘Ecuador’ Category

Thousands March in Ecuador to Protest Government Policies

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MERCEDES ALVARO

QUITO, Ecuador—Thousands of people marched in the capital and other cities Wednesday to protest against President Rafael Correa ’s administration and some of its policies, including proposed labor reforms and constitutional amendments.

Members of Ecuador’s labor unions and civic organizations and indigenous peoples took part in the march, which was organized by the United Workers Front, to demand changes to what they call “authoritarian attitudes” of the government.

“This is a strong mobilization showing the government there is a need for dialogue, reflection and changes,” said Mesias Tatamuez, one of the union leaders. “We are asking for a change in the direction of the government.”

Mr. Correa has said the marchers are looking to destabilize his government and that labor reforms seek to ensure job security and stop layoffs, among other things.

But union leaders said the government is looking to divide them by creating new government-dependent organizations and undermine their rights, especially ... Read More

A vote could cost President Correa his job—in 2017

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

ECUADORIANS have not been gentle to leaders who seek to prolong their hold on power beyond what the constitution allows. Past presidents who tried have been shot or even hacked to death by angry citizens (though not since 1912). Rafael Correa, the leader today, runs no such risk with his attempt to change the constitution to allow him to run again when his term expires in 2017. But he has galvanised the opposition.

On November 6th a coalition of centrist and conservative parties launched a drive to collect the 584,000 signatures needed to force a referendum on Mr Correa’s plan to eliminate term limits for elected politicians. Although Mr Correa, a left-wing populist, is personally popular, polls show that a large majority of voters want the referendum to go ahead. It may be the opposition’s best chance to unseat him.

Mr Correa’s foes have long suspected that he ... Read More

China’s tie with Latin America expands to security

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
China Daily

By ZHANG FAN

China’s tie with Latin American countries have exceeded from trade to security cooperation as China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC) is helping Local countries to build their national security control centers.

“We can say now, very proudly, that Ecuador is one of the most security countries in Latin America,”said Ecuadorian President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado this September.

CEIEC, the state-owned company specialised in engineering and defence electronics, built an ECU-911 system for the Latin American country including two national centres, five regional centres and eight provincial command and control centres.

The project, initiated from 2011, aims to unify seven security departments of Ecuador including police system, transportation, fire control and medical treatment in order to better arrange rescue operations in limited reacting time.

By now, the system has helped the crime rate of Ecuador decreased by 24 percent, ... Read More

Analysts sceptical Opec will halt fall in oil prices

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

BY ED CROOKS

Oil prices will continue to fall even if Opec countries agree to cut production later this month, according to one of the market’s most influential analysts.

Gary Ross, chief executive of Pira Energy Group, said there was an “imbalance” between supply and demand that would force prices down next year regardless of any output cuts that could be announced by the oil exporters’ group at its meeting in Vienna on November 27.

“Opec cannot and will not take the pain necessary to correct the imbalance,” he said.

Other market watchers are also predicting further falls in prices, including Philip Verleger, an energy economist who wrote at the weekend that he expected the cash price of internationally-traded Brent crude to drop to about $70 a barrel or lower.

Brent crude for delivery in the following month was trading at about $81.01 a barrel on Wednesday, down more ... Read More

Ecuadorian government tightens its grip on the press as private media fears for survival

| November 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Knight Center

By Dylan Baddour

An upcoming vote that could alter the laws governing mass media in Ecuador has stoked fears in the Andean nation that the end of a free press in near.

The constitutional court recently declared that the National Assembly could bypass a public referendum to decide if the 2013 Communication Law - which would categorize media as a “public service” subject to government regulation – will become part of the nation’s constitution.

According to critics, the proposed constitutional amendment represents a turning point in the gradual dismantling of critical journalism establishments in Ecuador while free press advocates worry that the decision could pave the way for a state media monopoly, a trend reflected by some of the leftist nation’s regional allies.

Privately-owned media companies have already been weakened in the seven years under Rafael Correa’s “citizens’ revolution.” The president has consistently berated private media in the country, accusing them of serving the interests of wealthy owners to the detriment of the people.

But journalists say the ... Read More

Ecuador court paves way for media regulation under constitution

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
CPJ

Bogotá, November 5, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a decision by Ecuador’s highest court that has paved the way for a constitutional amendment that would categorize the news media as a “public service” subject to government regulation.

The Constitutional Court announced on October 31 that the proposed amendment should be decided by the National Assembly rather than by referendum, which the opposition had pushed for, according to news reports. The legislature is dominated by President Rafael Correa’s left-wing Alianza País party, which strongly supports greater state regulation of the news media.

“Rafael Correa has repeatedly used the ‘public service’ argument as pretext to exercise broad regulatory powers over the media and influence news coverage of his government,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. “We urge Ecuadoran legislators to modify the proposed constitutional amendment to ensure that it respects international guarantees of freedom of ... Read More

Republicans Should Signal Leadership, at Home and Abroad

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Roll Call

The 2014 midterm elections were a rejection of the policies of President Barack Obama. And the Republican takeover of the Senate is a repudiation of the gridlock in Congress symbolized by the bare-knuckles tactics of outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The new Republican Senate leadership should move swiftly to seize the high ground and signal it is ready to do the peoples’ business. Quick action on several international issues — the Keystone XL pipeline, trade promotion authority and long-delayed ambassadorial nominations — are bipartisan actions that Republicans should put on the table even before they take over in January.

Although opinion polls show voters favor Republican positions on the economy, foreign policy and security, the party’s brand needs burnishing. As Obama hints at a more confrontational tone that could undermine any hope of making Washington work, Republicans can rise above Obama’s blame game by working with Democrats on tangible initiatives to bolster America’s ... Read More

Las Naciones ‘Sumergidas’ de Latinoamérica

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

Líderes políticos y diplomáticos de América Latina y el Caribe saben más sobre Cuba y Venezuela que incluso los observadores más astutos en Washington. Por lo tanto, deberían saber lo que le conviene más a su región ¿no?

Entonces, ¿por qué el Grupo de América Latina y el Caribe en la ONU le dio su apoyo a Venezuela para ser el próximo representante de la región ante el Consejo de Seguridad? Y, ¿por qué están determinados en invitar a el déspota cubano Raúl Castro a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en la primavera?; haciendo caso omiso de las objeciones por parte de sus socios comerciales más importantes, como Estados Unidos y Canadá.

Para muchas generaciones de latinoamericanos, Cuba fue el hogar de algunas de las mejores editoriales de lengua española en el mundo, cientos de periódicos y estaciones de radio de calidad, derechos laborales progresistas, altos niveles de alfabetización y ... Read More

Latin America’s ‘submerging nations’

| November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

The political leaders and diplomats of Latin America and the Caribbean know more about Cuba and Venezuela than even the keenest observers in Washington. So, they should know better, right?

Then why did the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN designate Venezuela to take the region’s non-permanent Security Council seat?

And, why are they determined to invite Cuban despot Raúl Castro to the Summit of the Americas in Panama next spring, ignoring the objections of the leaders of the consequential trade partners in the United States and Canada?

For generations of Latin Americans, Cuba was home to some of the world’s best Spanish-language publishing houses, hundreds of quality newspapers and radio stations, progressive labor rights, the region’s highest rates of literacy and nutrition, and a robust middle class.

Then came the Castro revolution. Although some may have been caught up ... Read More

Ecuador Top Court Endorses Re-Election for Correa

| November 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

Ecuador’s top court endorsed and sent to the National Assembly on Friday a constitutional reform package that would allow indefinite re-election for President Rafael Correa.

Correa’s ruling Alianza Pais party holds 100 of the assembly’s 137 seats, so the Constitutional Court’s ruling signals almost certain success for the government-proposed changes, which would end term limits for all elected officials.

The opposition has demanded the question be submitted to a plebiscite. Opinion polls say about two-thirds of Ecuadoreans favor deciding the issue in a referendum rather than leaving it to the National Assembly alone.

Correa was first elected in 2006 and his current term ends in 2017. He has said he would seek another term only if he considered his “revolution” threatened.

The leftist economist is widely popular among Ecuadoreans for his generous social spending but broadly criticized for intolerance of free expression.

Click here for original ... Read More

Venezuela, Ecuador to present OPEC with plan to defend oil prices

| November 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Brian Ellsworth

CARACAS Nov 1 (Reuters) – Venezuela and Ecuador are working on a joint proposal to defend oil prices that the two countries will present at the next OPEC meeting, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday.

Venezuela was the first country to request an extraordinary meeting of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss the sharp drop in crude prices that began in October, but the idea got little support.

“Our Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez was in Ecuador today coordinating with the government of President (Rafael) Correa, and we are going to take a proposal to OPEC,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast. “We’re working internationally to defend, as we should, the price of oil.”

OPEC meets to review policy on Nov. 27.

The weekly average of Venezuela’s basket of crude and refined products dropped on Friday by $0.11 from the week before, to $75.79 per barrel. The price of benchmark ... Read More

Peter Foster: The limits of Ecuador’s shakedown statism

| October 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Post

By Peter Foster

The great eighteenth century lexicographer and wit Samuel Johnson described second marriage as the “triumph of hope over experience.” How then might one characterize the tendency of Canadian mining companies to return again and again to the altar of commerce with foreign government partners who recall Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction?

This week, Vancouver-based Lundin Group confirmed that a subsidiary would take over the Fruta del Norte prospect in Ecuador from Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corporation for US$240 million. Ecuador is run by the left-wing caudillo windbag Rafael Correa, whose hero was Hugo Chavez, the man who turned oil-rich Venezuela into a basket case.

Mr. Correa’s  preferred mode of money-raising is the shakedown. The two most spectacular examples in recent years have been an attempt, via the “Yasuni Initiative,” to blackmail the rest of the world into putting up US$3.6 billion in return for Mr. Correa (italics) not (close italics) drilling ... Read More

Rising Dragon? The Chinese Mafia Threat in Latin America

| October 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
From In Sight

By David Gagne

Chinese mafia operations in Latin America are little understood, but a recent report on these groups in Argentina illustrates how they make their presence felt via extortion, human smuggling rings, and the occasional murder. As China deepens its economic relationship with Latin America, it’s possible these mafias may become ever more prominent.

Authorities in Argentina have attributed 31 murders over the last five years, and four in 2014 alone, to seven Chinese mafias operating in the country, reported La Nacion. These mafias reportedly earn revenue by extorting businesses within the Chinese community, and resort to violence when owners do not comply with their demands.

In at least three of the 2014 cases, the victim did not appear to have been robbed, leading authorities to believe they were killed after running afoul of criminal groups in the Chinese community. According to La Nacion, the Chinese mafias (also known ... Read More

El legado de Insulza y el futuro de la OEA

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Pais

POR EZEQUIEL VÁZQUEZ-GER

Corría Febrero del año 2011. Un grupo de estudiantes en Venezuela había decidido iniciar una huelga de hambre en protesta contra el gobierno de Hugo Chávez. En Washington, junto con un grupo de estudiantes venezolanos, decidimos apoyar la protesta pidiendo un pronunciamiento de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA). Lo hicimos a través de decenas de cartas dirigidas a cada uno de los embajadores, notas de prensa, y una protesta frente al Edificio principal del organismo, previo a una sesión de su consejo Perrmanente.

Terminada esta sesión, el secretario general José Miguel Insulza nos otorgó una audiencia privada, en la que nos dijo: “Me compadezco con ustedes, yo también sufrí una dictadura en carne propia y tuve que refugiarme en el exterior. Pero tienen que entender, a Chávez no lo van a vencer con cartas, Chávez es un dictador, y en Venezuela hay una dictadura militar”.

Esta anécdota sirve para describir el ... Read More

Latin American Growth to Slow, World Bank Says

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By RYAN DUBE LIMA, Peru—Latin America is on track this year to post its slowest rate of annual growth since 2009, when the global financial crisis began to be felt in the region, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The bank cut its growth forecast for the region by nearly half to 1.2%, following expansions of 2.4% and 3% in the previous two years. In its semiannual report on Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Bank said the region could grow 2.2% next year, but cautioned that it was still unclear whether the current downward cycle has bottomed out.

“We do not know if this deceleration has hit bottom, or if there is further deceleration to come,” said Augusto de la Torre, the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America, in a telephone interview. But growth, he said, “is not going to be what it used to be in the past decade, partially because ... Read More

Summit missing a strong agenda

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY DAN RESTREPO

With the ink not yet dry on the invitations, the April 2015 Summit of the Americas is perilously close to failure.

Failure rooted in the simple fact that a summit must be about more than its invite list.

And to date, summit host Panama and leaders across the Americas have done little to prepare other than obsessing about inviting Cuba and waiting to see how Washington responds.

That is not the basis for a mature, modern relationship, and it can’t make for anything but a missed opportunity in Panama.

This is particularly true when one considers the enormous shared opportunities and challenges that stand before the hemisphere and President Obama’s commitment to working as a good partner in the Americas.

From tackling the plague of violence in the Americas; to making good on energy and climate cooperation championed by President Obama at the ... Read More

Ecuador is freeing thousands of drug mules

| October 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
Global Post

BY SIMEON TIGEL

LIMA, Peru — In Latin America’s latest challenge to Washington’s “war on drugs,” Ecuador has quietly begun releasing thousands of convicted cocaine smugglers.

The move is a result of the country’s new criminal law, which took effect Aug. 10. It treats “drug mules” who commit the low-profit, high-risk offense more as vulnerable people exploited by cartels than as hardened criminals.

The reform retroactively applies heavily reduced jail sentences to those already convicted of attempting to transport relatively small amounts of drugs — often hidden dangerously inside their own bodies — out of the Latin American country.

Around 500 mules have already been freed and at least another 2,000 are expected to follow, says Jorge Paladines, national coordinator of the Public Defender’s Office. The sentence reduction is not automatic and can only happen after a court hearing, which the prisoner has to request.

“There ... Read More

After More Than 50 Years, USAID Is Leaving Ecuador

| October 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
MSNBC

By John Otis

BOGOTA, Colombia — Under pressure from Ecuador’s left-wing government, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is shutting down its operations in the South American nation after 53 years.

In a telephone interview with GlobalPost, Adam Namm, the US ambassador to Ecuador, called the decision “very disappointing.”

But it was no surprise. The government in Quito had refused to allow Washington’s aid agency to renew its programs or start any new activity in the country.

President Rafael Correa is a fierce US critic who has already pulled the plug on US counter-narcotics operations at a Pacific coast base and expelled Namm’s predecessor as well as 14 US military advisers, whom he claimed were infiltrating Ecuador’s security forces.

Analysts say that the closure of the Agency for International Development, the US government foreign aid wing known as USAID, is part of a broader effort ... Read More

Was North Carolina Used as an Ecuadorean Money-Laundering Hub?

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

By Ezequiel Vazquez-Ger

What happens when an Argentine businessman and Ecuador’s central bank chief select Newton, population 13,000, just outside Hickory, North Carolina, for their financial transactions?

Certainly not business as usual. And why is that? The story begins in December 2011 when Argentine businessman Gaston Duzac touched down in Ecuador to collect a highly irregular $800,000 loan from a local state-owned bank called Cofiec. The stated intent of this credit line was to create a so-called “mobile payment” system. At the time, an Ecuador public trust called Fideicomiso AGD managed hundreds of firms seized by the Ecuadorean government, including the Cofiec Bank. This public trust was presided by Pedro Delgado, who was also Ecuador’s central bank chief and cousin to President Rafael Correa.

The existence of the irregular credit came to light in Ecuador by mid-2012, spurring a swirl of controversy in Quito.

Not least of which was the controversial discovery that Iran made suspicious cash deposits ... Read More

Chevron sues another funder of Ecuadorian litigation

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Fortune

BY ROGER PARLOFF

The oil giant has sued Woodsford, a litigation funder, for investing in the allegedly fraud-tainted Ecuadorian environmental suit against it.

Chevron has sued Woodsford Litigation Funding Ltd. for financing the lawyers who are trying to enforce a $9.5 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant that was obtained in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in 2011.

Chevron  CVX -0.62%  contends—and, last March, a federal judge in Manhattan held—that the judgment was procured by fraud, bribery, and many other crimes.

Chevron’s suit against the funder—filed in Gibraltar last June, but not previously reported—alleges that Woodsford conspired with the leaders of the Ecuadorian litigation to advance “a dishonest and fraudulent prosecution of a claim” against the company. The allegedly fraudulent claim in question is the one that led to the billion-dollar judgment, which purports to compensate residents of the Ecuadorian Amazon for contamination left behind by Texaco, after it drilled for oil there from 1964 ... Read More

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