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, January 15, 2007

Correa Will Order Constitutional Assembly Tomorrow

By Theresa Bradley

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuadorian President-elect Rafael Correa will tomorrow order an assembly be convened to rewrite the country's constitution so socialist economic and political changes can be made.

``We're not talking about little reforms, about making things less bad,'' Correa told crowds at a symbolic swearing-in ceremony among indigenous groups in the Andes today, ahead of taking his formal oath-of-office tomorrow.

``My duty as president is to complete your mandate for profound change,'' he said, flanked by his regional allies, presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Bolivia's Evo Morales. ``A sovereign, dignified, just and socialist Latin America is beginning to rise.''

Correa, 43, a U.S.-trained economist who served a five- month stint as Finance Minister in 2005, won 57 percent of the vote in a Nov. 26 run-off election. He has aligned himself with Chavez's vision of ``21st Century Socialism,'' vowing to boost spending on the poor, renegotiate foreign oil contracts and review Ecuador's $11 billion in foreign debt obligations.

Correa's call for a constitutional assembly echoed steps taken by Chavez when he was first elected in Venezuela in 1998. The constitution drafted and approved there by popular referendum in 1999 became the foundation of Chavez's so-called ``Bolivarian'' revolution, named for Simon Bolivar, who fought to rid 19th century South America of Spanish rule.

``A constitutional assembly is the only peaceful road to refounding the republic and making the social and economic reforms we need,'' Chavez said in remarks preceding Correa's speech in Ecuador's Cotopaxi state.

`New Hour'

Unlike Chavez, who controls all 167 seats in Venezuela's National Assembly, Correa founded his own party to run for office and has few allies in Ecuador's congress. That sets the stage for conflict between the popular majority who supported Correa's platform and the majority of lawmakers who oppose it.

Chavez, backing plans for a constitutional revision, asked Ecuadorians to ``support Correa, support this new leader for Latin America's new hour.''

Chavez and Morales are expected to be joined at Correa's inauguration in Quito tomorrow morning by the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Iran, Venezuela's state Bolivarian news agency reported.

Correa is due to sign a decree convening a constitutional assembly in Ecuador shortly after he takes the oath-of-office.

Energy Accords

Chavez and Correa are expected to sign a series of energy accords in Quito on Jan. 16, agreeing to modernize Ecuador's Las Esmeraldas refinery and form a joint venture between state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA and PetroEcuador to explore Venezuela's Orinoco Belt oil reserve.

Petroleos de Venezuela, South America's largest oil company, will next month begin processing up to 100,000 barrels of Ecuadorian crude a day at no charge, Chavez said on Dec. 22, reducing Ecuador's reliance on closely held foreign refineries.

``The neo-liberal night is reaching its end,'' Correa said today, in a speech laced with the indigenous language Quechua that praised revolutionary figures Bolivar and Che Guevara.

``Latin America isn't living an era of change,'' he said. ``It's living a change of eras.''

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