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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ecuador’s Patino Declines to Say If Government Bought Back Debt

By Karla Palomo and Lester Pimentel

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuadorean Policy Minister Ricardo Patino said he doesn’t know if the government bought back debt in recent weeks.

Quito-based newspaper El Comercio reported yesterday that the government repurchased $680 million of bonds after they sunk below 30 cents on the dollar following President Rafael Correa’s decision last month to withhold a $30.6 million interest payment. El Comercio cited “sources” it didn’t name for the information.

“I don’t know; it’s not my field,” Patino said in a Bloomberg Television interview in New York today. Patino, who served as Correa’s first finance minister last year, headed a government-created debt-auditing commission that said in a report in November that much of the country’s $10 billion of foreign debt is “illegal” and “illegitimate.”

Correa held back the interest payment on the 12 percent notes maturing in 2012, invoking a 30-day grace period that expires Dec. 15 to determine whether to pay the bonds. Patino said in Quito on Dec. 2 that Correa would decide on the payment by tomorrow.

“The decision on whether to pay is in the president’s hands,” Patino said today. “He has a menu of options.”

The 2012 bonds rose 1 cent on the dollar today to 32 cents, pushing the yield down 1.54 percentage points to 57.08 percent, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The bonds sank to as low as 14 cents last month.

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