Syndicated News from Ecuador
Wed, 04 Dec 2013 11:31:05 GMT
A Possible Overture From Ecuador in the Chevron Pollution MessBusinessweek (blog)One of the biggest environmental controversies brewing anywhere in the world right now concerns oil pollution in tiny Ecuador. A federal judge in New York is poised to rule in coming months on an audacious attempt by Chevron (CVX) to use American ...
Wed, 04 Dec 2013 22:42:35 GMT
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 06:36:44 GMT
Can Ecuador stop the spread of abusive, underground clinics?MinnPost.com"We are talking here about a mafia, a network that operates on a national level, violating human rights in every province," said Ecuador's openly gay health minister, Carina Vance, last month in announcing the latest results in the country's renewed ...
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 01:16:26 GMT
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 05:47:14 GMT
Ecuador trip splits youthNamibianLeaders from the Rally for Democracy and Progress, DTA of Namibia, United Democratic Front and Swanu youth leagues who were not invited on the four-day trip, have labelled the N$5,8 million trip to the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students in ...and more »
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 03:13:42 GMT
Ecuador begins first banana shipments to ChinaFresh Fruit PortalEcuadorian banana producers have begun sending their first fruit to China with the hope of seeing success on this bustling market. Manuel Romero, executive director of the Ecuadorian Banana Corporation (Agroban), spoke with www.freshfruitportal.com ...
Tue, 26 Nov 2013 12:27:34 GMT
Tue, 03 Dec 2013 00:37:34 GMT
Mon, 02 Dec 2013 10:59:43 GMT
Emelec end 11-year wait for Ecuador titleThe Star OnlineEmelec, who were founded by Electric Company of Ecuador president George Capwell in 1929, have won the Ecuadorean championship 11 times since it was founded as a national tournament in 1957. Their neighbours Barcelona, champions last year, are ...
Fri, 15 Nov 2013 15:03:04 GMT
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Results 1 - 10 of Headlines for Ecuador
Thursday, January 30th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
Representatives from the International Monetary Fund will conclude a visit to Ecuador on Jan. 31, during the course of which they have reviewed the new government’s fiscal plans and discussed the creation of a new IMF standby agreement that would provide Ecuador with access to $500 million in multilateral loans. Gutierrez hopes to sign a letter of intent for a $50 million first payment when he visits Washington on Feb. 11, Ecuador’s daily El Comercio reports.
The IMF appears satisfied with the first steps taken by the Gutierrez government. Driven largely by the country’s internationally respected Economy Minister Mauricio Pozo, those steps include plans for $600 million in budget cuts, tax increases, decrees for immediate 10 percent cuts in public-sector salaries and an 18 percent to 25 percent rise in gasoline prices.
By moving quickly on austerity measures, Gutierrez has painted himself into a corner. He dearly needs the fiscal support of the IMF and the international financial community, but to keep that support he must convince domestic groups to back his policies. However, these policies conflict with the populist promises of his candidacy. As a result, Gutierrez’s key support base already is beginning to dissipate, and more groups seem to be aligning against him.
There are several dangers facing the president if he cannot turn the corner politically and begin building support for his policies. The first danger is that his government simply will be ineffectual -- unable either to pass the austerity measures the IMF demands or fulfill campaign promises to reduce poverty and corruption and spur the economy.
The second and more serious danger is that growing opposition could gel into a broad coalition that might seek to oust Gutierrez through a coup -- something that has become all too common in Ecuador and the Andes region. And accusations that former army Col. Gutierrez is militarizing the country could spur some groups into taking action.
Policies Not Buying Many Friends
With Ecuador’s high debt levels, a projected $2 billion financing gap for 2003 and an inheritance of vast financial problems from a fiscally undisciplined predecessor, Gutierrez has had no choice but to quickly cut government spending. So far, he has done this through presidential decrees, but now he must begin working with Congress.
To that end, Gutierrez is trying to build a consensus for his agenda. But his efforts are being hampered both by a lack of political support and opposition to his initial policy decrees. With 25 of 100 seats, the opposition Social Christian Party has the largest representation in Congress, and it has not indicated a willingness to cooperate with Gutierrez, who has a mere 14 solid supporters in Congress.
Meanwhile, the president initiated a so-called National Dialogue to discuss his main objectives: fighting corruption, reducing poverty, improving competitiveness, lifting Ecuador’s international standing and strengthening national security. But nothing substantial emerged from the first week of talks, local sources report, and Gutierrez already has dropped talks about a national referendum on proposed reforms.
While Gutierrez still is widely popular among much of the population, according to recent polls various interest groups and nodes of power are beginning to align against his administration and its policies.
In a declaration issued Jan. 26, business leaders warned that the government’s economic and fiscal policies could generate a "devastating crisis" by stifling production and increasing poverty, and they complained that the weight of the government’s measures fall on the business sector, Spanish news service EFE reported. On the other side of the political fence, the powerful indigenous lobby, unions and leftist political parties that helped deliver Gutierrez’s victory oppose the economic policies meant to secure an IMF agreement.
Workers affiliated with the Ecuadoran Confederation of Catholic Workers (CEDOC) announced their opposition to Gutierrez’s policies a week after he took office and refused to attend the National Dialogue to demonstrate their rejection of the new economic measures. In a statement, CEDOC warned that "the government must not allow itself to be seduced by monetary fund corruption."
Pachacutik, the main indigenous party and Gutierrez’s strongest support base in Congress, grudgingly accepted the gasoline price hikes but forced the government to retreat on a proposal for subsidy cuts that would have tripled the price of domestic cooking gas. However, Pozo said the issue of gas subsidies, worth $150 million a year, "has been postponed, not forgotten." The party might not be willing to endure much more austerity at the cost to its constituents.
Growing Accusations of Militarization
In his first weeks, Gutierrez has vastly increased the presence of military officers in key government and business positions. This is leading to growing concerns among the general population that Gutierrez is militarizing the country, Stratfor has learned from local sources.
Gutierrez, a career military man, has installed retired military officers in key posts of public companies -- such as state oil company Petroecuador and telephone companies Andinatel and Pacifictel -- and at the head of government entities -- such as the Customs Service, the Civil Aviation Directorate and the civil Police Command. The combined swearing-in of the military and civil police commanders Jan. 23 fueled rumors that Gutierrez wants to merge the two groups. Military and police since have begun taking on joint patrols of high-crime areas.
There also has been a rapid reshuffling within Ecuador’s military high command, with six generals forced to retire because of a lack of "presidential confidence" in them. On July 23, Ecuador’s ports, including several private terminals, were militarized in order to fight corruption, according to local media reports.
By drawing on military loyalists, the president is seeking to gain control over Ecuador’s economy and its security apparatus. But Gutierrez’s appointments have provoked strong opposition. By applying too strong a hand, the president risks creating a political crisis like those that have deadlocked his neighbors in Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela. If he is able to gain control over the military, he should be able to avoid a coup. If not, however, his efforts could prompt more rapid action to push for his removal before he gains too much power.Results Page:
Friday, November 1st, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Thursday, October 31st, 2002
: RCN Administrator
As citizens of Ecuador prepare to elect a new president, attention now is focused on the perceived differences between the leftist populist and right-wing populist candidates. However, the real issue at stake is that, regardless of who wins the election, Ecuador is heading in the same economic direction as debt-hammered Argentina. And as in Brazil, the next president will face political and economic constraints -- including stiff resistance to needed reforms and a lack of means for reconciling social goals with policies needed to keep the economy stable.
Ecuador will elect a new president in a Nov. 24 runoff between a populist former army colonel, who is supported mainly by leftist and indigenous groups, and a populist right-wing banana tycoon, who recently was pilloried by international human rights groups for employing children at slave wages on his plantations. The Economist recently described the contest as a choice between Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi.
However, the attention being lavished on the alleged ideological beliefs of both candidates misses the real issue confronting Ecuador: Regardless of who wins the election, the country’s dollar-anchored economy is following the same disastrous path blazed previously by Argentina. Moreover, Ecuador’s next president will face the same economic and political constraints that now confront Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva -- namely, stiff resistance to needed reforms and an inability to reconcile social goals with policies necessary to keep the economy stable.
Three years after adopting the U.S. dollar as its national currency, Ecuador is losing international competitiveness at an accelerated rate as trading partners devalue their currencies. Although inflation has been tamed and interest rates are dropping, labor, raw material, utility and other costs have increased tremendously. Meanwhile, the political and business classes have bitterly resisted all reforms meant to make the economy more efficient and productive.
However, neither of the two candidates -- former army colonel Lucio Gutierrez and banana tycoon Alvaro Noboa -- so far have offered anything remotely resembling a coherent plan to jump-start growth and investment in Ecuador, where nearly 70 percent of the 14 million inhabitants are poor, 15 percent are unemployed and more than half are under-employed.
The adoption of the U.S. dollar in January 2000 enabled Ecuador to slash inflation from 92 percent to less than 10 percent in 2002. It also boosted growth from a negative 7 percent in 1999 to 5.6 percent in 2001, with growth between 3.5 percent and 4 percent projected for 2002 -- one of the highest rates any Latin American country will experience this year.
However, Ecuador’s next president faces some formidable economic challenges. These include maintaining price stability, reducing public-sector debt, balancing the budget and developing a program to increase exports and foreign direct investment (FDI). The new president also must reduce corruption substantially; Ecuador recently was rated one of Latin America’s most corrupt countries by Transparency International.
In order to meet the economic challenges ahead, the next president must slash public spending -- which implies selling state-owned enterprises, laying off thousands of public workers and eliminating subsidies. However, both Gutierrez and Noboa have been ambiguous and contradictory when confronted with tough questions about their proposed economic policies.
For instance, both have pledged to maintain the U.S. dollar as the national currency, although Gutierrez also has promised to introduce a parallel Ecuadorean currency. He also says he would open up Ecuador’s oil industry to more private investment by foreign energy firms but simultaneously stressed that PetroEcuador, the national oil company, would have a greater role in developing the country’s oil resources.
Gutierrez also said recently that he would end the privatization of state-owned enterprises, give the state a greater role in the economy and place more emphasis on agriculture as a source of export earnings. Additionally, the candidate said Ecuador’s government could not continue spending more than 40 percent of its annual budget on servicing external debt and also spend more on social programs for the poor.
The contradictions in his economic policy pledges may reflect Gutierrez’s lack of experience as an administrator and elected public official, but they also illustrate the real economic constraints he would confront as president. Gutierrez’s promises of expanded social programs to create jobs and redistribute wealth -- like those of Brazilian President-elect da Silva -- are fundamentally incompatible with the need to pursue the fiscally orthodox economic policies that international lenders, investors and multilateral agencies would demand before they commit any capital to Ecuador.
Moreover, Ecuador has few if any prospects to significantly develop agriculture exports as a source of foreign exchange earnings, given the sector’s extremely low productivity.
Little can be said about Noboa’s proposed economic policies: He has been even less forthcoming than Gutierrez. However, as Ecuador’s wealthiest businessman and majority owner of more than 100 companies, Noboa presumably understands the policies he must implement in order to grow the economy.
The problem facing both candidates is that no matter who wins the runoff, the next president will confront a highly fragmented and atomized Congress, where some opposition leaders already have vowed stiff resistance to whichever candidate is elected.
Recent polls show Gutierrez with a 20-point lead over Noboa. If that lead holds through election day, Ecuador soon will be led by a former military officer who led a coup against an elected president in January 2000, became an instant popular hero as a result and was backed during his presidential campaign by some of the country’s most market-unfriendly and anti-American groups. Those include the Communist Party, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador and its political arm Pachakutik, and the Maoist Democratic Popular Movement.
Gutierrez, who wears his military uniform at political rallies, justifies his coup against then-President Jamil Mahuad as a "popular rebellion." However, he strongly rejects all suggestions that he is Ecuador’s answer to Venezuela’s Chavez. "I am a Christian, not a communist," he recently told Quito’s El Comercio daily.