This is a rather flattering, brief, misleading look at Rafael Correa’s public life and his rise to political power in Ecuador, which, once again, positions him as “radical, single-minded” (sometimes called a “socialist”) and which, once again, ignores his dubious environmental politics. Readers of colonos will know better. It has been pasted from openDemocracy.
Rafael Correa: an Ecuadorian journey
The impressive political rise of Ecuador’s economist-turned-president is about to face its greatest test so far, says Guy Hedgecoe.
Rafael Correa’s landslide election victory on 27 April 2009 makes him the first candidate since Ecuador’s return to democracy in 1979 to win a presidential vote outright in the first round. With the opposition divided and the resounding vote confirming his already formidable control of the Andean country, this left-leaning nationalist is the most dominant figure Ecuadorian politics has seen for decades.
There has been a lot of talk around the world and colonos even get emails from students studying the “very interesting environmental aspect” of the new Ecuadorian Constitution, which gives (human rights-like) rights to Pachamama, which is an Andean (and in some part of the Amazon) term for Mother Earth. (It is derived from Aymara and Quechua.)
Inside Ecuador, however, there is a growing resistance to the project of Correa’s government, largely due to a lack of environmental sensitivity as perceived by the social movements – the environment is systematically subordinated to capital interest – and a lacking recognition of collective rights. Indeed, the new constitution stresses the sacred nature of private property, as has previously been quoted in a post in this blog about the ways in which the constitution was presented in a misleading (half arsed) manner by The Guardian (which should be an autogenerated links below if we’re lucky!?).
In other words, there is a large discrepancy between how foreigners, especially opportunist socialists and social-democracts, perceive and, importantly, choose to represent the politrix of Rafael Correa and his government and how social movements, from peasants through urban anarchists to the people of Amazonia, perceive and resist the programmes of Correa.
As noted again and again – central to much of the criticism we’ve been on about all along – the new constitution also weds Ecuador to the IIRSA project, which is a World Bank project for the integration of infrastructures in Latin America to make it easier for global capitalism to move resources (out), goods (in), labour (around) and people (out if they complain) for the purposes of profit maximisation, asphaltation, bridge building hysteria and river way raping. The Ecuadorian part of IIRSA is first and foremost the Manta-Manaus/Manaos corridor or node in the IIRSA network of commodity trails that threaten to severely further disfigure the Andes and put an end to the world’s largest rain forest, the Amazon or Amazonia.
Anyway, there are a few current articles that make for interesting reading to keep up to date on the Ecuadorian developments, led by the idiosyncratic Correa:
“According to several current and former officials, Correa often makes impulsive decisions in isolation and is reluctant to listen to dissenting views.
“This government is all about Correa and he has closed all space for debate, leading many of us no choice but to leave,” said a close ally who still supports Correa but quit a top post over policy disagreements. “He is ending up alone surrounded only by people who tells him what he wants to hear.“”
Another article deals with financial issues, such as dollarization and the price of oil and how it all hangs together from the perspective of (wanker) financial science:
“Ecuador needs an oil price of $95 to cover all the spending in its budget, according to Barclays. The government had a surplus of $508 million in the first half of the year, Correa said Sept. 20.
“Correa’s only choice for growing the economy is the public sector,” said Bernal at Bulltick. “The lower the price of oil goes, the more the need for Correa to deliver on the fiscal front. Ecuadoreans will only live with Correa as long as they have expectations of growth.”
Then a really useful overview of things provided by an uncommon bed fellow of colonos, Socialist Worker:
“A MORE serious conflict is developing over government environmental policies that benefit mining companies. To crack down on anti-mining protests, Correa has ordered the use of brutal military force, a move bitterly condemned by the social movements.
Even Correa own coalition, Alianza País, is having internal contradictions. Recently, he issued a warning by declaring that he will dissolve the party if more internal infighting continues. He also took the opportunity to define his political project as “an ideological project of the nationalist left.”
But Correa’s nationalism is in opposition to indigenous people’s conception of their own nation, one that stretches across national boundaries from the Amazon to the Andean region. To the extent that indigenous people assert their historic claims to their lands, they are seen as a political threat by both multinational corporations and Correa.
The stakes in this conflict were raised on October 12–Columbus Day, traditionally seen as day of resistance by the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In neighboring Colombia, indigenous groups staged a levantamiento (uprising) to protest government repression and demand more cultural and political rights. The uprising in Colombia inspired indigenous people and their allies throughout the region–including in Ecuador.”
There is also a short piece on Plan Colombia, which is part of the War on Drugs by the Evil Empire and therefore, one might hope, will face some sort of reforms under Obama bin Ltd., and, then, finally some sort of list by Reuter’s, who as usual has been pasting capitalistic-financial propaganda about all the horrible and out of order things anyone left of Henry Kissinger might dare to think or, God help it, act. Just read it in the inverse, as it were :)
Happy Winter Solstice!
Here is an article in English that mentions some of the sources referred to by colonos when noting that Rafael Correa don’t give a toss about the indigenous people and campesinos whose self-described saviour he likes to present himself as in the global media’s corporate eye – something which he to quite some extent share with his Bolivian partner in populistic crime, Evo aMoralas, who:
“…rejected oil and gas expropriation, supports Big Oil interests, and embraced business as usual policies. Under nationalizations Morales-style, current contractual arrangements are effectively intact, and the country’s mineral resources have been sold off to the greatest ever number of foreign investors.
In addition, Morales broke his promise to triple the painfully low minimum wage, increased it 10% instead, and maintained previous neoliberal fiscal austerity and economic stability policies. He also tolerates the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s intrusive presence and the Pentagon’s Chapare military base; appointed hard right economic, defense and other ministers; opposed agrarian reform; supports large landowners; provides them large subsidies and tax incentives; and backs the Confederation of Private Businessmen in Bolivia by promoting foreign investment, social spending cuts, prioritization of exports, and other pro-business policies above the interests of the people who elected him. Petras says Morales “excels in public theater” by combining “political demagogy” to his base while backing neoliberal IMF austerity and business-friendly policies”. (Read more about forgotten promises here.)
We’re much too busy to translate, sooo many documents floating about these days, so here goes from Upsidedownworld.org, beginning with a highlight:
“According to the CONAIE declaration, “We reject President Rafael Correa´s racist, authoritarian and antidemocratic statements, which violate the rights of [Indigenous] nationalities and peoples enshrined in international conventions and treaties. This constitutes an attack against the construction of a plurinational and intercultural democracy in Ecuador. Correa has assumed the traditional neoliberal posture of the rightist oligarchy.“
On January 1 of this year, a major oil spill occurred in the Yasuní UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve as part of the workings of Spanish oil giant REPSOL. REPSOL is working in the oil fields of concessionary Block 16, which happens to overlap Huaorani ancestral territory.
Even though several months have passed since the spill was detected, and despite the severity of the event and the insistent pleas of the Huaorani community Dícaro that the company may undertake the necessary clean up and remediation, no action has been taken by REPSOL. Read the rest of this entry »
The Ecuadorian National Park and UNESCO Worldwide Biosphere Reserve, Yasuní, has recently become the main stage for discussions alluding to, insisting on, and negotiating pathways to an oil-free future – or rather to a future where oil remains undisturbed in its subterranean place of origin. Some oil at least. The “Leave the oil in the soil” proposal, instigated by environmental grassroots organisations, and taken on by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who announced it at the UN High Level Meeting on Climate Change last September, is to not drill for oil in some parts of the Yasuní National Park. Ecuador will leave the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil fields untouched in exchange for international compensation. Compensation of about US$ 450 million per year for ten years would entail a commitment by the South American state not to exploit nearly 920 million barrels of petroleum, and hence has been presented as preventing the emission of around 111 million tons of carbon. (At the moment Ecuador is South America’s fifth-largest oil producer, with a daily production of about a half-million barrels of crude.)
It seems that the neo-socialist revolution in Ecuador has found its sunshine story that has already inspired similar proposals with regard to oil and other natural resources in several other countries. But behind this glamorous initiative lurks the reality of the wider project of Ecuadorian reform in the context of contemporary geopolitical change. Read the rest of this entry »