Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos praised his country’s relationship with Ecuador during a visit of his Ecuadorean counterpart, Rafael Correa, to the border region on Monday. Santos specifically was positive about Correa’s support for ongoing peace talks with the country’s largest and oldest-living rebel group, the FARC.
Ecuador’s combative president is threatening to try to force the country’s newspapers to go all-digital as a way to save paper. Rafael Correa has long had a prickly relationship with Ecuador’s opposition-owned newspapers, and his Twitter statement Monday is a jab at papers backing a proposed referendum to block oil exploration in the pristine Yasuni national park.
The tiny nation of Ecuador is sitting on a lucrative oil reserve — some 846 million barrels of heavy crude. But that oil also happens to be right under a large, biodiverse rain forest. There’d be some obvious environmental problems with digging it up. And so, in 2007, Ecuador President Rafael Correa came up with a innovative proposal. He’d ask wealthy countries and donors to pay Ecuador $3.6 billion to leave that oil untouched.
U.S.-Ecuador relations have become tangled. In June, president Rafael Correa made headlines when he offered NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden political asylum. This was considered an attempt by Correa to demonstrate that he was not controlled by “el imperio” (the empire, as Washington is labeled by several left-leaning Latin American governments). But Quito ultimately withdrew its offer and, in baffling recent news, has hired a public relations firm, Van Scoyoc Associates (VSA), based in Washington, D.C., to improve its relations with the U.S. government.
Sure, we've heard fiery speeches offering asylum from leftist leaders who are eager to criticize the United States. But supporting Snowden's cause and wanting to make Uncle Sam look bad aren't the only parts of the equation, with so many trade and diplomatic relations hanging in the balance, said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington.
Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks today published more than 1.7 million United States records, covering diplomatic or intelligence reports on every country in the world. Much of the work was carried out by founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He sought refuge there last June over fears he would be sent to the US if he was extradited to Sweden to face sexual offence claims by two women.
Latin America is blessed with a wealth of natural resources and seeks investment and loans to capitalize on them. China needs the commodities to keep its economy growing. Those interests have come together in an unorthodox partnership, as China lends and invests billions of dollars in countries around Latin America in return for a guaranteed flow of commodities, particularly oil.
Ecuador has announced it is expelling the US Ambassador in Quito. The move follows the release on Monday by the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks of a US diplomatic cable alleging widespread corruption within the Ecuadorean police force.