The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ecuador as a banana republic

By Jerry Mazza
October 23, 2006.

That is the question for the Ecuadorian people, as paradigm for Mexican, South and Central Americans and Americans themselves, as Ecuadorians face a runoff election between the populist Chavez-leaning Rafael Correa and Alvaro Noboa, conservative banking and banana magnate.

The trouble that the magnetic economist and obscure university professor Rafeal Carrrea is already facing is an unexpected weak showing in the first round of voting for president on Sunday, Oct. 13, as reported by the NY Times’ Early Returns Point to Runoffs in Ecuador. The trouble with run-offs is that they generally run into a sharp right turn and stay there after some period of heated protest from the left, just like they have in the good old USA.

Correa finds himself in the same hot water leftist reformers in other Latin American elections have this year, reported the New York Times a day later. That is, defending their link to President Huge Chavez of Venezuela, one of the few outspoken detractors of Bush and his march to World Hegemony, including Other People’s Resources (and Money) on behalf of the Empire of the Landed. Even the usually pro-left workers seem tamed, if indeed their votes were correctly counted and not hacked in some back room as they were in America for the last three elections.

Correa is also against negotiating a free trade treaty with the United States, which generally leaves nations prey to multi-national American corporations looking for slave labor and/or appropriation of said natural resources. Again, Chavez has been rebelling against that trend, particularly concerning Venezuela’s vast oil stores, which give him potent international leverage. Ecuador has oil, but not in such great quantity. Nevertheless Correa and Chavez are friends, just as Chavez is with Daniel Ortega, front-runner in Nicaragua’s presidential election next month, though Ortega has downplayed that friendship a bit.

Unfortunately, Peru’s Alan Garcia, who, despite his first term ending in hyperinflation, made a comeback this year to beat Ollanta Humana, an ultranationalist and former army officer endorsed by Mr. Chavez. Nevertheless, President Evo Morales of Bolivia remains an ardent supporter of energy nationalization and Hugo Chavez’s closest ally in the Andes.

Rafael Correa would also like to renegotiate Ecuador’s foreign debt. Lastly, he wishes to terminate the US military use of an air base in Manta, on the Pacific Coast, for drug “surveillance,” which generally means drug “involvement.” This is the Correa trifecta of discontent and rightly so, which naturally sent shock waves through Wall Street banks.

And guess what? As of Tuesday, October 17, Noboa won about 27 percent of the vote and Correa 22 percent, about 70 perfect of the votes counted on Monday. But Correa challenged the results and claimed fraud could have shaved the count, which was hurt by delays. Moreover, election officials tossed out a contract with the Brazilian company “overseeing” (or overriding) electronic tabulations. By any chance, aside from the US, does this sound like the July/August election in Mexico? Let me refresh your memory.

From Wikepedia comes this summary, “The results of the Mexican general election of July 2, 2006, were controversial and contested. According to Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), the initial "Quick Count" was too close to call and when the 'Official Count' was complete, Felipe Calderón of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) had won by a difference of 243,934 votes (or 0.58%). The runner-up, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the left-of-center Alliance for the Good of All (PRD, PT, Convergence), immediately challenged the results and has led massive marches, protests, and acts of civil disobedience in Mexico City.

“On August 9, while protests continued to expand, a partial recount was undertaken by election officials after being ordered to do so by the country's Federal Electoral Court (TEPJF). TEPJF is also frequently referred to in the media by the acronym of its predecessor, the TRIFE. The court found 'sufficient evidence of reported irregularities at about nine per cent of the polling stations' to justify re-opening the polling station paperwork.

“After having made a partial recount, the same court decided that the election was fair and ruled that Felipe Calderón is President Elect.” Does that echo the US Supreme Court blowing the whistle on vote-counting and handing the election to George Bush in 2000? At the very least, Calderon’s shady victory has not earned him Chavez’s friendship.

But whether Correa of Ecuador loses or wins (by some strange turn), the process of vote-tampering, à la the USA, continues to be an attack on democracy. In addition, Noboa had his own trifecta against Correa. The first New York Times article describes Noboa “calling Mr. Correa a ‘friend of terrorists, a friend of Chavez, a friend of Cuba,” (read communists). Aptly Mr. Correa responded, “Mr. Noboa would rule Ecuador like a 'banana plantation.'”

But then Alvaro Noboa is a “Swiss-educated billionaire scion of an elite family in Guayaquil,” a conservative banker who, in addition to bananas, controls more than 100 companies in Ecuador and other countries. He has said he would end diplomatic relations with Venezuela and Cuba if elected. He stumped as a bible-thumping, God-fearing businessman, who promised cheap housing and free wheelchairs to the poor and handicapped, a Pat Robertson gone south.

Present as Past, Past as Present

So the battle for hearts and minds continues, the stack being stacked as we go. Should a right-wing victory occur, we can expect Noboa to call in the World Bank and/or IMF and take out some huge loans at outrageous interest rates for “public works projects” and begin summarily looting the country in the name of modernizing for democracy, à la Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins.

In fact in the first paragraph of Perkins’ preface, he writes “Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign 'aid' organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization. I should know. I was an EHM.”

Actually in Chapter 24, page 165 of Confessions, “Ecuador’s President Battles Big Oil,” Perkins takes us back to the late 1960s when, “the serious exploitation of oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin began . . . and it resulted in a buying spree in which the small club of families who ran Ecuador played into the hands of the international banks. They saddled their country with huge amounts of debt, backed by the promise of oil revenues. Roads and industrial parks, hydroelectric dams, transmission and distributing systems, and other power projects sprang up all over the country. International engineering and construction companies struck it rich -- once again.”

And again Perkins writes, “One man whose rising over this Andean country was the exception to the rule of political corruption and complicity with the corporatocracy [Perkins word for fascism] . . . was Jaimie Roldos, again a university professor and attorney in his late thirties . . . charismatic and charming. . . . He had established a reputation as a populist and a nationalist, a person who believed strongly in the rights of the poor and in the responsibility of politicians to use a country’s natural resources prudently.”

In short, Roldos like Chavez had captured the attention of the world, bucking the status quo and going after the oil companies. He accused the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), an “evangelical missionary group from the US” of collusion with the oil companies. In fact, as Perkins points out the SIL, according to sources, received funding from Rockefeller charities. John D. Rockefeller, the family scion was the founder of Standard Oil, which later split into the majors, including Chevron, Exxon and Mobil, when the US Supreme Court, on May 15, 1911, declared it a monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Roldos took them on and Texaco as well.

Suffice it to say, Roldos fought through the Carter administration and the beginning of Reagan’s, and only weeks after expelling the SIL missionaries, Roldos died in a fiery airplane crash, on May 24, 1981.

Of course, “the world was shocked. Latin Americans were outraged. Newspapers through[out] the hemisphere blazed, ‘CIA Assassination.’” The fact is, at the last moment before his flight, “one of his security officers had convinced him to board the decoy airplane. It had blown up.”

Do we think the “security officer” was a CIA or government operative or a greedy man who took a pocket full of money? Hardly makes a difference. Osvaldo Hurtado took over as Ecuador’s president and SIL members were granted special visas. And Osvaldo, “launched an ambitious program to increase oil drilling by Texaco and other foreign companies in the Gulf of Guayaquil and the Amazon basin.” So it goes.

I suggest, beyond the newspaper reports of elections, you read Confessions of an Economic Hitman, which in a way is the extension of the excellent Killing Hope -- U.S. Military And C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II by William Blum. Blum gives you a panoramic look back at our intervention not only in Ecuador (chapter 25, p. 153) with all its machinations, but those of some 50 plus nations and locales around the world.

The march to Hegemony you will find did not originate with our present administration, though it received a renewed and resounding push. Unfortunately, this urge to control and own the world seems woven into our history, along with the greed of the Euro/Anglo and American elites, the conquistadors of old, who first massacred the indigenous populations, to rule in their indecent purity the mixed descendants and survivors of each group.

Thus the struggle against them by those who would be free should be considered an integral part of our lives in a “democratic” society. Behind the flags, you will always find the long-fanged faces, vampires of reaction ready to pounce on figures of reform ready to chase the moneylenders and their lot from the Temple of this world, trying to prevent them from turning still one more piece of it into a banana republic.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at gvmaz@verizon.net.

From Online Journal

1 comment:

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