Archive for the ‘Ecuador News & Politics’ Category
Irrespective of the repercussions a small country like Ecuador may have going against the United States, support here for Julian Assanges’ asylum bid is extremely high. An online poll by the Ecuadorian newspaper El Telegrapho shows up to 93.7% of people believe Assange should be given safe assage out of Great Britain.
This percentage is even higher than Rafael Correas approval rate itself that fluctuates in the high 70% range which seemingly means this is a non-partisan issue in Ecuador.
I did however overhear in a restaurant in the city of Coca one policeman say to another, “you see Correa has given asylum to that terrorist.”
This reaction may be explained by the conflict of between the police and the president when Rafael Correa was kidnapped by police after he took away their work benefits.
Ecuadors position is much stronger now that it has received the backing of South Americas 12 nation union which condemned the threat against its embassy. The OAS which meets on August 24th should have a similar position.
I have noticed the western mainstream media outlets have already begun to paint Rafael Correa in a bad light. Some of the hit-jobs have come from surprising places like www.foreignpolicy.com which normally has pretty balanced and informative political analysis but resorts to ad hominem smears whenever it comes to Julian Assange.
The best place to stay informed on the situation about Freedom of Expression in Ecuador and around the world is the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) which has been monitoring the situation in Ecuador before Julian Assange stepped into their London Embassy.
This recent article on IFEX about Correa withdraws government advertising from private media demonstrates the complexity between Freedom of Expression and letting Ecuadors incredibly powerful and corrupt oligarchs smear anyone who doesnt agree with their interests.
“From now on you will no longer place official advertising on the mercantilist media, because there is no reason why we, with the money of all Ecuadorians, should benefit businesses that belong to six families in this country” - Rafael Correa
If you havent seen it already then you should check out the interview on The World Tomorrow where Assange and Correa met for the first time. In it Rafael Correa explains his opinion on Ecuadors oligarchy that owns the banks and press in the country.
I do think Rafael Correa has played the current stand off with Great Britain very smart. By letting his own foreign minister Ricardo Patino make much of the international limelight for his speeches when granting Assange asylum and calling for the meetings in OAS and USAN. This has made it much harder for the mainstream media to draw comparisons between Correa and Chavez who has surrounded himself with the cult of personality of a soi-disant Bolivarian revolutionary.
For the full video of speeches outside the Ecuadorian Embassy:
Social and Citizen Media have been abuzz with speculation these last few days about the pending acceptance of Julian Assange for asylum in Ecuador.
The Mainstream Media (outside of Ecuador) took up the story later when Ecuadors foreign minister Ricardo Patino made known Britains threat to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to take Assange by force.
This was an incredibly foolish move by Britain and has backfired into a geopolitical shitstorm that pits the US, Britain, and Sweden against a nascent Latin American / South American bloc eager to flex its muscles.
Julian Assange stated multiple times before he entered the embassy that the British government was going to extradite him to Sweden during the opening of the Olympic Games in London to ensure media coverage of the extradition would be swamped by Olympic fanfare.
In return this was shrewd politicking by Ecuador to wait for the Olympic Games to end before announcing they had accepted Assanges’ asylum request.
Because of the respect the vast majority of countries in the modern world (with the exception of Iran) have towards the Vienna Convention with regards to the protection of embassies and consuls this threat by Britain against Ecuador has rattled even former members of the conservative party like the former ambassador and human rights activist Craig Murray:
I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.
This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.
The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.
Britain believed that Ecuador could be intimidated into rejecting the asylum request. They should have known that the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, is not easily intimidated which I cannot say for the embarrassing cowardice of the political leaders in my own country Australia. On the contrary Rafael Correa loves a fight and the inevitable media attention that comes from it.
Britain should have known that because Ecuador is a tiny country located between two much larger regional bullies, Peru and Colombia, has meant its had to learn to punch above its weight like a small kid in a rough neighbourhood.
Threatening to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy which is the sovereign territory of Ecuador under the Vienna Convention was undoubtedly going to bring up bitter memories of Colombias illegal bombing of a FARC camp on Ecuadorian territory in 2010.
After the threat the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino promptly called for an emergency meeting of the OAS (Organization of American States) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) UNASUR will vote overwhelmingly with Ecuador with the exception of of Chile and Colombia and most probably Paraguay (after its recent “soft coup”)
Argentina who are still reeling over the latest slight by Britain on the disputed Falkland Islands and Chavez who will want to drum up his us-verse-them-imperialista narrative in the middle of an election season he will most probably lose will spearhead the regional condemnation. The continents superpower and the country next in line to host the Olympics, Brazil, will take on a more tempered tone than the leftist firebrands but criticise the threat nonetheless.
Now lets watch the mainstream media use its spin machine to start slinging dirt on Rafael Correas complex stance on Freedom of Expression in Ecuador
Today I want to share with you a very powerful documentary that will give you a behind the scenes look at the destruction of Ecuadors Amazon and the human rights abuses inflicted on its indigenous communities by Oil Companies.
The documentary film is called Ikiam and was shot by Simone Francis, an Australian social entrepreneur that runs Nomadic Hands. I met at the Sydney Latin Film Festival for the world premier for Ikiam and since then we have collaborated on a number of projects aimed at raising awareness of the massive destruction taking place in the Amazon.
If you believe like us that these grave injustices towards the environment and people of the Amazon should stop then please consider sharing this documentary and helping us get the word out. If you have any questions after watching it then leave a message in the comments and im sure we can get Simone to answer you personally.
The Guardian in the UK recently ran an article called Could Ecuador be the most radical and exciting place on Earth? which talks about the enormous reforms the Correa government has undertaken since taking office in 2007.
Ive criticised Rafael Correa a little on here with regards to Freedom of Expression in Ecuador and the murky undercurrents of the Yasuni ITT deal. There is no doubt however that Rafael Correa is one of the best presidents Ecuador has ever had.
Not since Jaime Roldós (the Ecuadorian president who was allegedly assasinated in a plane crash near an American military base for taking on the foreign owned oil and gas industry) has Ecuador had a president that cared more about its people and not self-enrichment. Its the reason the government has lasted so long:
The government is now the most stable in recent times and will soon become the longest serving in Ecuador’s tumultuous history. The president’s approval ratings are well over 70%. All this is due to the reorientation of the government’s approach, made possible by a constitution remarkable for its recognition of human rights and the rights of nature, and its acceptance of plurality and cultural diversity.
The consequence of these economic reforms enacted by Correa to create a more just and equitable society is that they have made him some very powerful enemies in Ecuadors elite class. This resentment boiled over on the 31st of September last year when rogue police forces kidnapped the president in what the government believes was an attempted coup.
Fortunately it failed and Rafael Correa has continued to use his doctorate in Economics to turn this once Banana Republic into a strong and steady latin american economy that will benefit Ecuadorians for decades to come.