Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange’

Electoral blow sparks changes in Ecuador but Correa still firmly in charge

| February 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

BY ANDRES SCHIPANI

A year ago Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftwing president, was riding high after winning a third term in a landslide election.

Some say his party, Alianza País, got too used to winning. This week, Correa was looking more subdued after the opposition won the country’s key mayoralties – Guayaquil, Cuenca and, most painfully, the capital Quito – in Sunday’s local elections.

The result is a setback for Correa’s “citizen’s revolution” and its aim of increasing the role of the state in the economy, as it means he can no longer count on the support of heavyweight mayoralties.

Correa called the results “painful” and said losing Quito was “very sad and dangerous” and could make Ecuador “ungovernable”. The fiery president even drew parallels with Venezuela, an ally that has seen a wave of street protests in recent weeks, saying some members of the opposition were “counting the days for the government to fall.”

He followed that on Wednesday by asking for the ... Read More

Ecuador seen to be muzzling press critical of Correa

| January 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
Article appeared in United Press International

QUITO, Ecuador, Jan. 30 – Oil-rich Ecuador, which won left-wing accolades for supporting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is tightening controls on journalists in the country.

Critics see official muzzling of the press as a travesty, as the Australian leaker remains a guest of Ecuador’s embassy in London, England, where he sought and received “diplomatic asylum” June 19, 2012.

President Rafael Correa says Ecuador’s privately owned media are too critical of him and sees watchdog groups skeptical of his moves to regulate the press after his own fashion as stooges of capitalism.

The latest flap over the government’s tumultuous relationship with Ecuador’s media followed a government takeover of the Fundamedios, a non-government organization and advocacy group.

“Since President Rafael Correa took office in 2007, sweeping changes in laws, government policies, and new and proposed regulations have turned Ecuador into one of the region’s most restrictive nations for the press,” the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said.

In a joint ... Read More

Ecuador: HRF Condemns Prison Sentence and Raids Against Journalist and Legislator

| January 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Human Rights Foundation

NEW YORK (January 24, 2014) – The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns last week’s ruling by the National Court of Justice of Ecuador (CNJE) that upholds a prison sentence against legislator Clever Jiménez and his advisor, journalist Fernando Villavicencio, for filing a request for a criminal investigation against President Rafael Correa in connection with a 2010 police revolt. HRF also condemns arbitrary raids on the homes of Villavicencio and Jiménez, as well as on the latter’s office at the National Assembly.

“Once again, President Correa is using groundless prosecution and police intimidation to silence critical voices, in a country where the judiciary is increasingly subservient to the executive branch,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF.

This is not the first time that President Correa has attempted to crush criticism arising from his role in the 2010 police revolt. In 2012, journalist Emilio Palacio was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay millions in compensation to Correa ... Read More

Ecuador’s Correa wants US military to leave

| January 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa said Wednesday he would ask the United States to withdraw American military personnel assigned to its embassy in Quito.

Correa said he became aware of what he described as an outsized presence after learning that four US military personnel were aboard an Ecuadoran military helicopter that came under fire on October 3 last year near the border with Colombia.

“That’s when we learned of all this, of the military group, nearly 50 military personnel. This is inconceivable,” he told foreign reporters.

“Unfortunately, these people have been so infiltrated in all the sectors that what is scandalous appeared normal.”

Correa, an economist by training who has long railed against America’s “imperialism” in its Latin American backyard, said Quito was “already taking measures” to address the issue.

US Embassy spokesman Jeffrey Weinshenker said the United States had not yet received “formal notification” of the Ecuadoran request.

He said about 20 US Defense Department ... Read More

A tale of two hacks: Ecuador’s continued assault on the press

| January 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JIM WYSS

BOGOTA, Colombia – Two days after Christmas, masked and armed police raided the home of Fernando Villavicencio in the predawn hours, hauling away a lifetime of data and documents.

Hours later, President Rafael Correa said Villavicencio — an opposition adviser who also writes about corruption and the oil industry — was suspected of hacking into the president’s email.

Ten days later, Ecuador’s state-run El Telegrafo newspaper wrote about a proposed online media outlet that is seeking funds in the United States, including with the National Endowment for Democracy — whose Cold War origins and “democracy building” efforts have made it a boogeyman in the Americas.

There was one problem with the El Telegrafo story: According to Martha Roldos, a former legislator and government critic who was pitching the idea, the only way the paper could have had access to the information was by hacking her email.

The twin “hacking” stories shed light on the small Andean ... Read More

Negligencia diplomática en Ecuador

| January 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

Por Roger F. Noriega y Felipe Trigos

En un artículo recientemente publicado por el presidente del Diálogo Interamericano, Michael Shifter, titulado, “EE.UU. está aprendiendo a vivir relaciones tensas con el Ecuador”, relata la turbulenta relación entre Estados Unidos y Ecuador desde la elección del presidente izquierdista Rafael Correa en el 2006. Shifter atribuye a la administración del presidente Obama la búsqueda de las relaciones diplomáticas y comerciales productivas con el impredecible presidente Rafael Correa. Shifter llega a la conclusión de que los diplomáticos estadounidenses han aceptado por fin que Correa no está interesado en una relación normal. Lo que plantea la pregunta: “¿ Por que les tomó tanto tiempo en darse cuenta?”

El autor reconoce que Correa ha sido el responsable de socavar la relación después de que expulsó a la embajadora de EE.UU. en Ecuador Header Hodges en 2011, al apoyar una demanda notoriamente falsa en contra de Chevron, al concederle asilo ... Read More

Diplomatic malpractice in Ecuador

| January 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

BY ROGER NORIEGA & FELIPE TRIGOS

In a recent article, “U.S. Learning to Live With Strained Ecuador Ties,” Inter-American Dialogue President Michael Shifter recounts the troubled relationship between the United States and Ecuador since the election of leftist President Rafael Correa in 2006. Shifter credits the Obama administration for seeking productive diplomatic and commercial relations with the mercurial U.S.-educated president, but concludes that U.S. diplomats have at long last accepted that Correa is not interested in a normal relationship. Which raises the question, “What took them so long?”

The author acknowledges that Correa has been responsible for undermining the relationship after he expelled U.S. Ambassador Header Hodges in 2011, supported a notoriously bogus lawsuit against Chevron, granted asylum to Wikileaker Julian Assange, and sympathized with U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden.

Correa is a fairly typical Latin American caudillo who has pursued an anti-American agenda to garner support from the radical left in his country and from ... Read More

U.S. Learning to Live With Strained Ecuador Ties

| January 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
World Politics Review

BY MICHAEL SHIFTER

Since President Rafael Correa came to power seven years ago, U.S. relations with Ecuador have been rocky. Most recently, in December 2013, the U.S. Agency for International Development decided to pull out of Ecuador in 2014 after the agency failed to reach an agreement with Quito over continued support of democracy promotion efforts, which the Correa administration regards as targeting the government. Just days later, the Correa government reacted angrily to a Washington Post report alleging that the CIA had offered crucial assistance to Colombia in a 2008 strike against FARC rebels in Ecuadorean territory; the U.S. had denied any involvement at the time.

It is ironic that Correa, who has a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois and presides over the only dollarized economy in South America, has such an antagonistic relationship with the United States. Also paradoxically, despite myriad problems, the U.S. remains Ecuador’s chief trading partner.

Re-elected twice, Correa ... Read More

United States cancels aid programs to Ecuador -officials

| December 16th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY ALEXANDRA VALENCIA

The United States has canceled aid to Ecuador worth $32 million over the coming years after long-running disputes with the government of socialist President Rafael Correa, according to U.S. officials.

Correa, a U.S.-trained economist, has often been at odds with Washington since winning power in 2007. He accuses the U.S. government of trying to undermine him and this year Ecuador renounced U.S. trade benefits dating from the early 1990s.

According to a U.S. State Department spokesperson, Ecuador recently informed the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) it could not undertake new activities or extend existing ones without an accord governing bilateral assistance. This led to the U.S. decision to cancel the aid.

“Our planned $32 million in assistance programs for the coming years would have allowed us to partner with Ecuadoreans to achieve their own development goals in critical areas,” said a letter dated December 12 from USAID to Ecuador seen ... Read More

Ecuador’s Worn-Out War on Chevron

| October 23rd, 2013 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY RAUL GALLEGOS

Ecuador’s long-running spat with U.S. oil company Chevron Corp. over a polluted swath of Amazon jungle is the type of David-and-Goliath story President Rafael Correa uses to define his mandate.

Correa has worked hard to convince the world that Chevron is bullying the Andean country in order to avoid paying a $19 billion pollution judgment that an Ecuadorian court imposed in 2011. In a letter to the Economist, Juan Falconi Puig, Ecuador’s ambassador to the U.K.,wrote that the contamination of 2 million acres of Ecuadorean Amazon caused “one of the largest environmental disasters in history.”

Correa recently took journalists on a tour to visit untreated oil-filled ponds in the Lago Agrio region. “This is Chevron Texaco. This is what they say doesn’t exist,” Correa told a group Sept. 17 in taped remarks at a pond that he said the company contaminated sometime in 1986. “This is the dirty hand of Chevron,” he said as he ... Read More

Latin America’s ‘bad boy’ leaders enjoy high support, survey finds

| October 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
The News Tribune

BY TIM JOHNSON

MEXICO CITY — Being a “bad boy” in Washington’s eyes can have payoffs for Latin American politicians, while being a “star pupil” can have a downside.

A compilation of polls across Latin America released over the weekend found that the four leaders whom Washington considers the “bad boys” of the region remain among its most popular presidents, even wildly so.

The leaders of Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela routinely lambaste the United States, concentrate power in their own hands and run roughshod over the news media but retain significant, and even strong, support.

In contrast, the pro-U.S. leaders of Chile, Colombia and Peru – countries with more open democracies – have seen their public support fall in the past six months.

That’s the result of a biannual survey of approval ratings for the leaders of the 19 largest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Compiled by Mexico’s Consulta Mitofsky polling firm, the ... Read More

Latin America’s Anti-Americanism Is All Talk

| October 2nd, 2013 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

BY PARRAGUEZ, FRANCISCO GARCIA GONZALEZ, & JOSKUA TADEO

The Latin American blogosphere held its breath when Bolivian president Evo Morales’s airplane was forced to land in Vienna in July. As European authorities searched for former US National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden on board, Twitter accounts of South American presidents exploded with resentment. The continent denounced the United States for extending its hemispheric supremacy to Europe, sputtered words like “colonialism” and “imperialism,” and claimed that the incident violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Argentina‘s President Cristina Kirchner called the incident “not only humiliating to a sister nation, but also for the whole South American continent.”

Fury continues with reports that the NSA allegedly hacked web accounts of Brazil‘s state-owned oil company – described as “industrial espionage” by President Dilma Rousseff – and monitored internet and phone communications of Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto while he was a candidate. Rousseff postponed a state ... Read More

Julian Assange and Ecuador’s strangled press

| September 24th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY GLENN GARVIN

When I visited London in July and stopped at Harrods department store to buy some ostrich jerky (who says British cuisine is philistine?), nobody mentioned that Wikileaker-in-chief Julian Assange was celebrating his 42nd birthday just a few hundred feet away. If I’d known, I would have stopped by with a present, maybe a quaint needlepoint: AN EMBASSY IS NOT A HOME.

Then again, he already knows. Fifteen months after he took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to escape extradition to Sweden for questioning on sexual-assault charges there, Assange is not having such a great time, if a new report in Vanity Fair is to be believed.

The outside street is so noisy that he sleeps in the women’s bathroom. He lives on takeout food (and with the fear that it’s been poisoned). He can’t even go into the building’s lobby, which is technically not part of the embassy and ... Read More

In Ecuador, a Magazine’s Death Comes Amid Questions

| July 9th, 2013 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY WILLIAM NEUMAN

QUITO, Ecuador — Their faces were long, and so was the night. In the offices of Ecuador’s only weekly newsmagazine, the small staff of about a dozen people struggled to produce a final issue, even as locksmiths changed the locks on the doors.

The closing had been announced only a day earlier. It came as a surprise. The staff members were especially bitter because they had been told there was no money to pay their severance packages, so they split their time between trying to finish the last issue and filling out government forms to demand the money they were owed.

Frustrated that the magazine’s administration had apparently taken away access to some computer servers needed for the final issue, Juan Carlos Calderón, the bespectacled editor with a salt-and-pepper goatee, who was dressed in a black shirt and blue jeans, suddenly stalked into the room and shouted: “For ... Read More

Vice President Biden asks Ecuador for “favor” — reject Snowden asylum

| July 1st, 2013 | 1 Comment »
The Miami Herald

BY JIM WYSS

BOGOTA – U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden called Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa and asked him to reject the asylum plea of Edward Snowden, the fugitive NSA-leaker.

During his regular Saturday television program, Correa said the conversation was “polite” and that Biden had asked him to reject Snowden’s request “as a favor.”

Correa, 50, said the country cannot begin processing the plea until Snowden — who is reportedly in the transit zone of a Moscow airport — is on Ecuadoran soil.

He also said he brought up the case of Roberto and William Isaías, two brothers convicted in Ecuador of embezzling more than $660 million during the country’s 1999 banking crisis. Both men live in Miami, and Ecuador says it has repeatedly asked for their extradition. The men have long rejected the charges, saying they were victims of the country’s financial crisis.

Biden “told me that Mr. Snowden was a fugitive of American justice ... Read More

As Ecuador embraces global critics, like Assange and Snowden, it hounds its own

| July 1st, 2013 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JIM WYSS

QUITO, Ecuador – Pablo Castro keeps glancing over his shoulder, and only once he’s in a park alone does he start talking. He says he likes open spaces, but he also has reasons for caution. Last year, while gathered with nine colleagues, planning to join protests over water rights, police broke down the door and arrested them. The men and women — most students in their 20s — were accused of planting small explosives that scattered pamphlets. The government never proved a connection, but the Luluncoto 10, as they’re known, were charged with terrorism and spent a year in jail. Castro, 25, says their only crime was opposing the administration.

Ecuador is back in the spotlight as it mulls giving NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in the name of democracy and human rights. President Rafael Correa, who granted WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange asylum last year, is being hailed as a ... Read More

Ecuadorean Disarray Clouds Snowden Bid

| June 28th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY JOSÉ DE CÓRDOBA & JEANNE WHALEN

Disarray within the Ecuadorean government over the role of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in Edward Snowden‘s asylum bid is complicating the outcome, according to diplomatic correspondence that appears to shed light on the mixed signals from Quito over the American fugitive’s fate.

Mr. Assange—the antisecrecy-group founder who for the past year has been sheltered inside Ecuador’s London embassy—wrote to Ecuadorean officials Monday that he hoped his role in the Snowden matter hadn’t embarrassed the government, according to an internal Ecuadorean diplomatic correspondence obtained by Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Networks and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

But in the note, Mr. Assange also offered public-relations advice to top Ecuadorean officials about how to handle the crisis. Mr. Assange’s earlier efforts on Mr. Snowden’s behalf had prompted one diplomat to caution that Mr. Assange could be perceived as “running the show” in Ecuador.

In addition, it was an Ecuadorean diplomat who has ... Read More

Ecuador Needs U.S. Aid. Will They Risk It All with Snowden?

| June 27th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

MAC MARGOLIS

Julian Assange, the head of the whistleblower group Wikileaks, won political asylumin the Andean nation last year after taking refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Facing charges of sexual abuse in Sweden and hunted by the British police, Assange may never get beyond the embassy in Hyde Park, but he was hailed as a “champion” of free expression by Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa, who bade him “welcome the club of the persecuted.”

Now comes Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contract analyst who is wanted in the United States for leaking details of America’s surveillance programs and then fleeing the country. Ecuador may not have been the 29-year-old digital rebel’s dream destination. He fled first to Hong Kong, flew on to Russia, and was last sighted wandering the transit lounge of Moscow international airport.

But with Washington on his heels, his passport revoked, and a small diplomatic brawl erupting around him, Snowden ... Read More

Ecuador Defies the U.S. — Again

| June 26th, 2013 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

BY PETER ORSI

CARACAS, Venezuela– President Rafael Correa of Ecuador embraces his role as a thorn in Washington’s side, railing against U.S. imperialism in speeches and giving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange refuge in his nation’s embassy in London.

But nothing Correa has done to rankle the United States is likely to infuriate as much as granting the asylum being sought by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who faces espionage charges back home after revealing details of two highly secret surveillance programs.

WikiLeaks, which has been assisting Snowden, said Sunday that he formally requested asylum from Ecuador. Ecuador’s foreign minister confirmed receiving the request, and analysts said the precedent set by Assange’s case suggested Correa would honor it.

Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday, and Aeroflot confirmed that he was booked to fly to Cuba on Monday. The reports said he was then booked on a flight to Venezuela, another South American country whose government ... Read More

Ecuador’s Hypocrisy on Snowden

| June 26th, 2013 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY RAUL GALLEGOS

Populist regimes in Latin America have long followed a “bread and circus” formula for governing — plenty of state spending and plenty of political drama. Ecuador’s willingness to consider an asylum petition by Edward Snowden, the U.S.’s most wanted man, fits the script.

The U.S. government has charged Snowden, who’s currently holed up in Russia, with espionage for his role in leaking classified information about a surveillance program that delved into telephone records, e-mails and Internet use. For a leftist regime bent on thumbing its nose at the U.S., this makes Snowden a rock star of sorts.

At a press briefing yesterday meant to confirm receipt of Snowden’s asylum petition, Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s minster of foreign affairs, took pains to describe Snowden as a hero persecuted by elites who “should give explanations to the government and citizens of the world.” Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper shared the same assessment yesterday in an editorial that claimed Snowden “does not belong ... Read More

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