Posts Tagged ‘WikiLeaks’

US will cut off anti-drug assistance to Ecuador: official

| May 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States will end decades of anti-drug trafficking assistance to Ecuador this month, pulling its staff from the INL office in the South American nation, a top official said Wednesday.

“I am quite prepared to acknowledge right now the INL section, which has been in Ecuador now for more than 30 years, is also going to close up shop,” Ambassador William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), told a congressional hearing.

He said the office staff would be out of Ecuador by the end of September. Brownfield did not say how many US staffers were in place there.

Brownfield said the move was a reflection of the level of cooperation the United States has right now from Ecuador.

Leftist economist President Rafael Correa, whom Washington has criticized for his links to Iran, Belarus and WikiLeaks figure Julian Assange — has acknowledged there is an atmosphere ... Read More

Sr. Vicepresidente Biden: No todo está bien en la República Dominicana

| March 11th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Jose Cardenas

La noticia es que el vicepresidente de EE.UU., Joe Biden ha pospuesto su viaje a la República Dominicana de esta semana para volver a Washington desde Chile para reunirse con el primer ministro de Ucrania el miércoles 12 de marzo. Eso es lamentable, ya que la visita de un funcionario estadounidense de alto rango ayudaría a que esta administración preste más atención a los problemas políticos que cada día afectan más a ese país.

Visto superficialmente, la República Dominicana parece ser estable , con un gobierno bastante popular que intenta hacer lo correcto por su gente. Detrás de esa imagen, no obstante , las tendencias políticas en ese país son preocupantes y no deben pasar desapercibidas por las autoridades estadounidenses.

Un argumento convincente de que no todo está bien con la democracia dominicana se encuentra en un informe del Centro de Estudios Estratégicos e Internacionales titulado “La República Dominicana : Convirtiéndose en ... Read More

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

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


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

Panama Canal Deadlock Could Cost U.S. Billions

| February 6th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Foreign Policy

News that negotiations have broken down over a payments dispute in the massive $5.2 billion project to expand the Panama Canal is devastating news for U.S. exporters and only adds to the “disarray” narrative on U.S. trade policy.

The cash-strapped Spanish-led consortium that is building a new lane says it is stopping work due to the Panamanian refusal to pay an additional $1.6 billion in cost overruns. The Panamanians say it is a breach of contract. The consortium is threatening “years” of arbitration; the Panamanians say they will not yield to blackmail.

The only thing certain is that further delays in the project’s completion, which has already been pushed back from this year — the 100th anniversary of the canal’s completion — to as late as 2015 and beyond will continue to cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars, at a time when seaborne trade is essential to the United States’ economic ... Read More

Panama Canal Expansion on ‘Brink of Failure’ Due to Financing Dispute

| February 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


Work to expand the Panama Canal so bigger ships can fit through the 100-year-old waterway has virtually ground to a halt, and the consortium in charge of the construction effort said the project is now on the “brink of failure” after talks broke down between the contractors and Panama’s government over who is going to pay for $1.6 billion in cost overruns.

The storied canal, built by American engineers, is among the world’s most vital shipping routes, acting as a shortcut between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that shaves nearly two weeks off travel times for ships that otherwise would need to travel around South America at Cape Horn. But the canal has become too narrow for the world’s ever-larger ships, including those hauling products such as natural gas and other fuels.

Countries including the U.S., which is fast becoming a net exporter of natural gas as it uses new ... 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

CARDENAS: A corrupt deal threatens El Salvador elections

| January 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

Voters in El Salvador will go to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president from two decidedly opposite ends of the political spectrum. Former guerrilla and current Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, of the hard-line wing of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), is facing off against San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano of the pro-U.S. opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.

As if the stakes were not high enough already — for the Salvadoran people and for U.S. interests in the region — the election is being complicated by the unhelpful role of a third-party candidate, Antonio Saca, the former president of the country who served under the ARENA banner from 2004 to 2009.

Once a favorite of the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Saca was subsequently expelled from ARENA in 2009 for his conspicuous corruption while in office. Today, many in El Salvador think he is running again ... Read More

Diplomatic malpractice in Ecuador

| January 10th, 2014 | No Comments »


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


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

At odds with Ecuador, USAID moves to leave

| January 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor



The US Agency for International Development says it plans to leave Ecuador amid an impasse with the government, just six months after the agency was kicked out of Bolivia, in what analysts say is another sign of the waning US influence in the region.

In a letter to USAID partners in the country on Thursday, acting Mission Director Christopher Cushing said the decision to leave Ecuador comes “as a result of the Government of Ecuador’s decision to prohibit approval of new USAID assistance programs.”

Mr. Cushing said the agency had $32 million in aid scheduled for programs in coming years in Ecuador, according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Christian Science Monitor. A USAID official confirmed the letter’s authenticity.

“The government of Ecuador recently informed USAID it could not execute any new assistance activities or extend existing activities pending negotiation of a new agreement governing bilateral assistance,” says the official, who spoke on the condition of ... Read More

United States cancels aid programs to Ecuador -officials

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


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

Cristina Fernández, Argentina’s fading populist

| October 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
Financial Times


When Pope Francis held an audience with Cristina Fernández in March, his first with any head of state, the meeting of the two Argentines was a study in contrasts. While the former was serene and dressed in white, Ms Fernández wore widow’s weeds and appeared coquettish, her eyes circled in kohl.

“Oops, can I do that?” she said, touching his sleeve and giggling like a schoolgirl. “I never imagined I would meet the Pope,” she mumbled, crossing her hands across her chest.

It was an unusual show of humility from a politician known for her imperious style and sharp tongue. As she once said: “The only thing to fear is God – and me a little, too.” But this week Ms Fernández was cast in another unfamiliar role: that of invalid.

Following a bump to her head two months ago, Ms Fernández, 60, was diagnosed with blood on the brain and rushed ... Read More

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

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


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


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

Cuba’s Spies Still Punch Above Their Weight

| September 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
The National Interest


Despite a withered economic base, few exports of any value, and a repressive state bureaucracy, Cuba and the Castro regime have an outsized international presence. Recently, Havana appeared to be the international diplomatic broker for former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden’s asylum applications to various Latin American countries with a history of poor relations—and no extradition treaties—with the United States.

This July, Panamanian authorities seized a North Korean cargo vessel loaded with aging Cuban military equipment. Hidden under tons of Cuban sugar, the equipment was reportedly on its way to North Korea for refurbishment. This bizarre episode—an uncharacteristic misstep by the Cuban government—led to United Nations sanctions inspections and drew new attention to Cuba’s ongoing security relationships with pariah states like North Korea.

What explains the fact that, time and again for decades, the small, poor island nation manages to position itself at the fulcrum of superpower relations, especially within the ... Read More

South America studies how to curb U.S. ‘spying’ – Ecuador

| September 26th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


South American nations are jointly exploring the creation of a communications system to curtail U.S. spying in the region, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on Wednesday.

He said the idea was to set up a common platform to “minimize risks of being spied on” and added the project was an outgrowth of the disclosures by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden on U.S. spying worldwide.

The new project is under consideration by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which groups the 12 governments of the continent. UNASUR is based in Quito, Ecuador’s capital.

“We have decided to begin to work on new Internet communication systems of our countries, of our societies, to avoid continuing being the object and prey of illegal spying that U.S. spying entities have developed against us,” Patino said in an interview with Reuters at Ecuador’s mission to the United Nations in New York City.

UNASUR’s defence ... Read More

Julian Assange and Ecuador’s strangled press

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


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

Venezuela’s Maduro in China Gets a $5 Billion Dollar Loan

| September 24th, 2013 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

CARACAS — Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro met with China’s President Xi Jinping over the weekend in Beijing and said that China had granted Venezuela another $5 billion credit line.

“We have ratified the strategic partnership with China, following an extraordinary meeting with the President Xi Jinping!” Maduro said via Twitter.

“In the meeting we approve projects and resources for the development of energy, housing, agriculture, transportation, among others,” tweeted the Venezuela President, even working in that tribute was paid to the late President Hugo Chávez. “!We have paid tribute to our Commander Chávez in China. Sister homeland who remembers him as a great leader!”

According to the Venezuelan government, the country currenlty holds 365 agreements of cooperation with China in areas including energy, oil, education, health, technology, trade, construction, agro-industry and agriculture, infrastructure, industry, culture and sport, among others. With the agreements signed during trip, that total is now 400.

According to Venezuela Oil ... Read More

U.S. Aims to Resume Bilateral Talks With Ecuador Before Year-End

| July 22nd, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


QUITO, Ecuador–The U.S government expects to reinitiate bilateral talks with Ecuador later this year in an attempt to improve relations between the two countries, the U.S. envoy to the South American nation said Monday.

“Ties between the two countries are evident, they are strong. We want to restart the bilateral dialogue before the end of this year and we are talking with the Ecuadorean government on that,” Adam E. Namm, the U.S. ambassador to Ecuador, said in an interview in Radio Quito.

Relations between the two countries came under strain in April 2011 as ambassadors for both countries were expelled after media reports published a cable obtained by WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy group.

In the 2009 cable, then U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges discussed widespread corruption in Ecuador’s police force. She alleged that President Rafael Correa had knowledge of corruption among police officials, a charge that the president denied.

Last month relations between both ... Read More

Snowden’s Ecuador Flirtation Sinks Into Trade Feud

| July 15th, 2013 | No Comments »


Ecuador’s spat with the U.S. over the fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden cost exporters special access to the world’s biggest economy and may make the country’s planned bond sale more expensive.

President Rafael Correa, whose government has said it is planning a return to international credit markets for the first time since its $3.2 billion default four years ago, will probably have to offer as much as 9 percent for a 10-year bond to entice investors, according to Michael Henderson, an emerging-markets analyst at Capital Economics in London. That compares with the 6.15 percent yield on similarly rated Dominican Republic dollar bonds due in 2024.

Correa, who plans to issue notes by the first quarter of 2014, sparked the conflict last month when he renounced the country’s preferential trade benefits under a program promoting alternatives to the cocaine trade. He said the U.S. was trying to use trade privileges as leverage to force Ecuador to extradite ... Read More

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