Ecuador officially the Republic of Ecuador (Spanish: República del Ecuador, which literally translates as "Republic of the Equator"; Quechua: Ikwadur Ripuwlika), is a country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland. The capital city is Quito, which is also the largest city. The sovereign state of Ecuador is a middle-income representative democratic republic with a developing economy that is highly dependent on commodities, namely petroleum and agricultural products.
- Driving from Quito toward Shell on this sunny day in 2003, I thought back thirty-five years to the first time I arrived in this part of the world... I found it fascinating and certainly exotic; yet, the words that kept coming to mind back then were pure, untouched, and innocent. Much has changed in thirty-five years. At the time of my first visit in 1968, Texaco had only just discovered petroleum in Ecuador's Amazon region. Today, oil accounts for nearly half the country's exports. A trans-Andean pipeline built shortly after my first visit has since leaked over a half million barrels of oil into the fragile rain forest— more than twice the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdcz. Today, a new $1.3 billion, three hundred-mile pipeline constructed by an EHM-organized consortium promises to make Ecuador one of the world's top ten suppliers of oil to the United States. Vast areas of rain forest have fallen, macaws and jaguars have all but vanished, three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures have been driven to the verge of collapse, and pristine rivers have been transformed into flaming cesspools.
- Because of my fellow EHMs and me, Ecuador is in far worse shape today than she was before we introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering. Since 1970, during this period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion. Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20 to 6 percent. Unfortunately, Ecuador is not the exception. Nearly every country we EHMs have brought under the global empire's umbrella has suffered a similar fate.
- Ecuador is typical of countries around the world that EHMs have brought into the economic-political fold. For every $100 of crude taken out of the Ecuadorian rain forests, the oil companies receive $75. Of the remaining $25, three-quarters must go to paying off the foreign debt. Most of the remainder covers military and other government expenses — which leaves about $2.50 for health, education, and programs aimed at helping the poor. Thus, out of every $100 worth of oil torn from the Amazon, less than $3 goes to the people who need the money most, those whose lives have been so adversely impacted by the dams, the drilling, and the pipelines, and who are dying from lack of edible food and potable water.
- Jaime Roldos of Ecuador, who I also was involved in trying to bring around, he very strongly opposed our oil companies. Not “oppose,” isn’t the right word. What he said is, “Oil from Ecuador has to serve the interest of the Ecuadorian people. Therefore, the oil companies are going to have to pay a lot greater share to the Ecuadorian people or we’re going to nationalize them.” And he’d run on a very, very strong anti-American campaign, and we knew that if he didn’t change his ways, that something would happen to him. We were in his office making the same promises. You know, here we’ve got a couple of million dollars for you. Here we’ve got a bullet for you, basically. It’s done a lot more subtly than that, but that’s the short version. And three months before Torrijos, his airplane also exploded.
- There was a president elected, the President of Ecuador, Gutierrez, a few years ago and he ran on a very, very strong anti-U.S. ticket. And he said that if he was elected, he would make sure that the people of Ecuador get the fair proceeds from Ecuadorian oil. As soon as he was elected, he was visited by an economic hit man, whom I know personally, and read the Riot Act, told the things we mentioned earlier, you know, “I’ve got money for you or a bullet.” Within a month, he came to Washington. There was a famous picture shown all over Ecuador of him sitting, holding hands with George Bush. And very soon after that, he went against everything in his campaign promises. He cut sweet deals with the oil companies. He went back on the indigenous peoples, whose lands in the Amazon area he had promised to protect. And the Ecuadorian people went wild. They took to the streets. They protested and demonstrated and eventually threw him out of power. So this particular one backfired... the economic hit man did his job right. Gutierrez came around, and then the Ecuadorian people understood what was going on.
- When Rafael Correa first ran for Ecuador’s presidency in 2006, supporters at his rallies brandished belts in homage to their candidate, whose surname means “belt” or “strap”. “Dale correa,” or “give them a whipping,” the crowds roared. It was a demand to punish what they regarded as the corrupt elites who had governed Ecuador since the return of democracy in 1979. Mr Correa promised he would. He won that election and then two more. His presidency brought a rare spell of political stability. Living standards rose and public services improved. Mr Correa, who has a respectable approval rating of 42%, is not a candidate. He is counting on Lenin Moreno, a former vice-president, and his running mate, Jorge Glas, the current vice-president, to carry on his “citizens’ revolution”. Mr Moreno, who shares his alarming first name with 18,000 other Ecuadoreans, hopes to win in the first round by capturing the bulk of Mr Correa’s support and adding to it.
- What to expect from Ecuador’s elections. The Economist, (18 February 2017)
- Ecuador, still a relatively poor Third World country, has made achievements we can still only dream of here: free health care, free university education, effective anti-poverty programs, democratizing the media, environmental protection, respect for the rights of oppressed groups such as LBGTs and Original Peoples, repudiation of debt gouging by the banks, increasing taxes on the rich, clean elections. It has taken the initiative, along with President Evo Morales of Bolivia, in demanding action by the West in combating climate change and in shutting down tax havens. The challenges facing Ecuador remain the continued power of the old neoliberal ruling elite in the country, the need to further diversify the economy, to eliminate poverty, and the need to build an organized, politically active mass structure to carry on the Citizens Revolution.
The accomplishments of the Citizens Revolution have made President Correa one of the most popular presidents in Latin America. Moreover, in a poll of 18 Latin American countries, Ecuador ranked the highest in citizens’ evaluation of their country’s government, in reduction of corruption, and distribution of wealth. Yet, “The greatest achievement of this revolution is having recovered pride and hope. We recovered our country,” said Correa speaking on the 10th anniversary of the revolution.
- Ecuador’s transformation during the presidency of Rafael Correa (2007-2017) and The Citizens Revolution stands as great step forward for the worldwide struggle against the 1%. President Correa... came to power in a country controlled by a super-rich elite, dependent on oil and commodities exports. Ecuador still suffered from the devastating effects of corrupt banker dealings, which caused the currency and peoples’ savings to lose two-thirds of their value, leading to the US dollar becoming the new national currency. Governments preceding Correa instituted neoliberal austerity and privatization programs, causing inequality, poverty and unemployment to soar. Ecuador became one of the poorest and least developed nations in the region. Poverty rates reached 56% of the population, and from 1998-2003 close to 2 million Ecuadorans out of a population of 12-13 million, over 1 in 10, had left the country for economic reasons.
William Blum, in Killing Hope, wrote that the CIA in Ecuador “infiltrated, often at the highest levels, almost all political organizations of significance, from the far left to the far right... In virtually every department of the Ecuadorian government could be found men occupying positions high and low who collaborated with the CIA for money. At one point, the agency could count among this number the men who were second and third in power in the country.” Ecuador was also saddled with the US’s largest air base in the region at Manta, instrumental in Plan Colombia and in enforcing international banking and corporate rule over Ecuador.
- Lenín Moreno actually pledged during his election campaign several months ago was to continue the "Citizens Revolution" of Rafael Correa, whose left-wing government Moreno was part of for 10 years. Moreno called Correa the greatest president Ecuador ever had during the campaign. And here is a video of Moreno leading a crowd in cheers of “Rafael! Rafael!” at a campaign rally.
Moreno is now, through a referendum that he never proposed on the campaign trail—it was actually proposed by his right-wing opponent—asking voters to (retroactively) re-impose term limits, handpick a body with “transitional” powers to fire 150 authorities (judges, prosecutors, regulators etc.…) and drastically reduce taxes on wealthy land-speculators. Moreno did not campaign for any of those things.
He is now also talking about a “free trade” deal with the United States—another policy he would never have dared to propose while he needed Correa’s support to get elected. Further, Moreno has given Ecuador’s private banks exclusive control over electronic money—which he never would have proposed while he needed Correa. In 1999, the private banks, after years of corruption and deregulation, totally crashed Ecuador’s economy. Reining them in, including their media power, was key to the economic success Ecuador had under Correa.
- Western Media Hail Ecuador’s Cynical President Moreno, FAIR,by Joe Emergsberger, (4 February 2018)
- How can Moreno get away (so far) with his post-election about face? By quickly turning on Correa, he immediately won over Ecuador’s big private media, and quickly made changes to public media so that it provided negligible opposition to his right turn. For example, Moreno promptly put a former editor of the right-wing newspaper El Comercio in charge of the government-run El Telegrafo. The results were obvious during a January 21 TV interview broadcast across the country, in which journalists from two right-wing networks and a third from public media interviewed Moreno.
- Western Media Hail Ecuador’s Cynical President Moreno, FAIR by Joe Emergsberger, (4 February 2018)
- The first irregularity [in the prosecution of Rafael Correa] is that, according to our constitution, authorization to prosecute the ex-president should have been received from the National Assembly. In fact, it was requested by Judge Camacho... Second... one must understand why the prosecution of the former president had to be authorized by the National Assembly.... events to which he is being linked happened while he was president. The law says that for prosecution to proceed presidential immunity must first be removed for events that took place while he was in office... A third irregularity... The acting prosecutor has not been sworn in before the National Assembly as mandated by the constitution. Their authority is completely illegitimate. A fourth irregularity is that the arguments used to link Rafael Correa to the Balda’s case [the attempted kidnapping] are utterly weak and confirm that there is a political vendetta being pursued against the former president.
- Ecuador’s top court ordered former President Rafael Correa on Wednesday to stand trial for his alleged role in the 2012 botched kidnapping of an opposition lawmaker. Correa was charged in September by prosecutors of orchestrating Fernando Balda’s kidnapping in Bogota after he fled to Colombia’s capital to escape what he considered persecution by Correa. A supreme court justice decided that the accusations against Correa, his top intelligence chief and two others merited a trial. Judge Daniel Camacho also formally declared Correa a fugitive after he flouted for months an order to appear before the court every 15 days as part of the ongoing probe. For his defiance, Ecuadorean authorities had previously requested Correa’s arrest and extradition from Belgium, where he has been living since leaving office last year.
- Ecuador President Ordered to Stand Trial in Abduction, Voice of America (7 November 2018)
- Ecuador has signed a $4.2bn programme with the IMF, signalling a final break by President Lenín Moreno with the policies of his leftist predecessor in a deal that he said saved the country from becoming like Venezuela. The loan to the Opec country forms part of a larger $10bn package with other multilateral lenders... “Thanks to the firm decisions I have made, we are not what Venezuela is today . . . we have recovered democracy,” Mr Moreno said... “This money will create work opportunities for those who have not found something stable.” The IMF deal comes on the seventh anniversary of Mr Assange’s asylum at the embassy... “Ecuador's willingness to call the IMF certainly proves that the government is serious about stabilising the country's finances and embracing economic reforms,” said Siobhan Morden, head of Latin American fixed income strategy at Nomura... Investors praised Mr Moreno’s decision to get ahead of Ecuador’s economic problems by turning to multilateral lenders now... Ecuador’s extended fund facility with the IMF, which must still be approved by the Washington-based lender’s board, will support the government’s plans to create a “more dynamic, sustainable and inclusive economy,” said Anna Ivanova, the IMF mission chief to Ecuador.
- IMF agrees to $4.2bn fund for Ecuador, The Financial Times ( 21 February 2019)
- Hours after Julian Assange was ousted from his diplomatic refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the country released a laundry list of alleged transgressions which brought the WikiLeaks founder's seven-year residency to an end... But while Ecuador had undoubtedly tired of its London house guest, the motivations for stripping Assange of his asylum and allowing in officers of the Metropolitan Police are likely to have been more complex... On March 25, WikiLeaks posted a tweet bringing attention to a corruption probe that Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is facing. It linked to an anonymously registered website hosting a vast trove of leaked emails, text messages and other documents pertaining to Moreno's private life. The Ecuadorian government blamed WikiLeaks for the leaked documents, dubbed the INA Papers, an allegation that WikiLeaks denies.
- Why did Ecuador give up Assange after seven years? by Lauren Said-Moorhouse, at CNN] (13 April 2019)
- Consider a recent IMF loan. In March, Ecuador signed an agreement to borrow $4.2bn from the IMF over three years, provided that the government would adhere to a certain economic program spelled out in the arrangement. In the words of Christine Lagarde – then the IMF chief – this was “a comprehensive reform program aimed at modernizing the economy and paving the way for strong, sustained, and equitable growth”.
But is it? The program calls for an enormous tightening of the country’s national budget – about 6% of GDP over the next three years. (For comparison, imagine tightening the US federal budget by $1.4 trillion, through some combination of cutting spending and raising taxes). In Ecuador, this will include firing tens of thousands of public sector employees, raising taxes that fall disproportionately on poor people, and making cuts to public investment.
- Mark Weisbrot, in The IMF is hurting countries it claims to help, The Guardian (27 August 2019)
- All this [in Ecuador] is taking place under a government – elected in 2017 on a platform of continuity – that seeks to reverse a prior decade of political reforms. These reforms were, by measures of economic and social indicators, successful. Poverty was reduced by 38% and extreme poverty by 47%; public investment – including hospitals, schools, roads, and electricity – more than doubled as a percent of the economy. But the prior government was a leftwing government that was more independent of the US (by, for example, closing down the US military base there). One can imagine what this looks like, as the Trump administration now gains enormous power in Ecuador... Lenín Moreno, has aligned himself with Trump’s foreign and economic policy... his government is persecuting his presidential predecessor, Rafael Correa, with false charges filed last year that even Interpol won’t honor with an international warrant. Other opposition leaders have fled the country to avoid illegal pre-trial detention – in the case of former foreign minister Ricardo Patiño, for making a speech that the government did not like... Since Washington controls IMF decision-making for this hemisphere, the Trump administration and the fund are implicated in the political repression as well as the broader attempt to reconvert Ecuador into the kind of economy and politics that Trump and Pompeo would like to see, but most Ecuadorians clearly did not vote for.
- Mark Weisbrot, in The IMF is hurting countries it claims to help, The Guardian (27 August 2019)
- Basically, Chevron, in the form of Texaco, its predecessor company, went into the Amazon of Ecuador and decided to create an operational system, with literally hundreds of wells, where they deliberately dumped toxic waste into waters — into rivers and streams that Indigenous groups relied on for their drinking water, bathing and fishing, creating a mass industrial poisoning of a 1,500 square mile area. And literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people have died... In the meantime, people are suffering... the degree of contamination is appalling. I mean, it is the Amazon Chernobyl. It’s the very definition of ecocide...it’s just a deliberate decision, in order to save money, to dump 16 billion gallons of cancer-causing waste onto Indigenous ancestral lands.
- What Chevron did is, rather than pay the judgment that it owes to the thousands of people in Ecuador that it poisoned, it’s gone after me and other lawyers. And in the United States, Chevron sued me for $60 billion, which is the largest potential personal liability in the history of our country.
Chevron then launched a campaign to really try to drive me out of the case. And as part of their strategy, they demanded to see my confidential communications with my clients, including everything on my cellphone and computer. And when I appealed that to the higher court here in New York, while the appeal was pending, Judge Kaplan charged me with criminal contempt of court for not complying with the order while the lawfulness of the order was under appeal. He then had me locked up in my home.
- So, what’s really happening here is, Chevron and its allies have used the judiciary to try to attack the very idea of corporate accountability and environmental justice work that leads to significant judgments. And I think they’re not only trying to retaliate against me; they’re trying to send a broader message to the activist community, to the legal community, that these types of cases, that truly challenge the fossil fuel industry, that are intimately connected to the survival of our planet, should not be allowed to happen in court, at least not at this level.
- As the case was coming to an end in Ecuador, Chevron's lawyers and executives made it clear they would never pay the judgment. They sold their assets in Ecuador, so the Ecuadorians would have nothing to collect. They threatened the Indigenous peoples with “a lifetime of litigation” if they didn't drop their case. They also started to attack Ecuador's judicial system... Chevron knew that the evidence against them was overwhelming, and they were going to lose the Ecuador case. So they tried to come up with a strategy to block enforcement of the Ecuador judgment against their assets in other countries. To do that, they needed to somehow allege that the judgment in Ecuador was the product of fraud. The way they did that is they paid a former Ecuadoran judge, moved his family to the United States, paid his income taxes. Their lawyers coached him for 53 days. And ultimately he came into federal court and testified I approved the bribe of a trial judge in Ecuador.... He has recanted most of his testimony. He's admitted that he has repeatedly lied in U.S. federal court. He admitted under oath. He's thoroughly discredited.
- Steven Donziger quoted in 'I've Been Targeted With Probably the Most Vicious Corporate Counterattack in American History' Jack Holmes, Esquire Mar 18, 2021
- Steven Donziger is one of the lawyers representing thousands of indigenous residents of Ecuador’s oil-rich Amazon whose battles with Texaco (which merged with Chevron in 2001) began over twenty-five years ago... In 1993, Steven Donziger and a team of lawyers brought the case before a federal court in New York (where Texaco was based) hoping to get a verdict from a jury. From 1964-1990, Texaco ran “all drilling, waste-disposal, and pipeline operations”in the region where the indigenous plaintiffs, many of them farmers, lived. Sixteen billion gallons of toxic waste had been dumped. Residents had organized protests against Texaco since 1986. Again, it is worth emphasizing this: the legal battle against Texaco began in 1993, just after the company had spent 26 years contaminating the Ecuadorean Amazon. Texaco fought for nine years to move the case back to Ecuador and filed numerous sworn statements praising Ecuador’s judiciary. Chevron, after absorbing Texaco in 2001, continued that key battle and won it in 2002. U.S. courts ruled that the lawsuit would have to be settled in Ecuador. Chevron’s incentive to avoid a jury (which are not used in Ecuador for civil suits) was obvious. In fact, Chevron weaseled out of facing a jury again years later when it ran back to U.S. courts after its legal battles in Ecuador took an unexpected turn.
- Texaco (now an American oil brand of the Chevron Corporation) started its work in Ecuador in the 1960s when former CIA officer Philip Agee revealed that a modest budget allowed the CIA to play a huge role in Ecuadorean politics. Referring to a program that funded right wing politicians and journalists in Ecuador, a 1961 diary entry of Agee’s stated that “It costs about 50,000 dollars a year and in a place like Quito a thousand dollars a week buys a lot. The feelings I have is that we aren’t running the country but we are certainly helping to shape events in the direction and form we want.”