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.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Exclusive interview with Ecuadorian president (Granma)

Granma International, January 12, 2009
It is not with more capitalism, more neoliberalism, or more markets that Latin America’s problems will be solved

Oscar Sánchez Serra

Exclusive interview with Ecuadorian presidentWHEN he graduated in economics from the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil, he did not go into a company or create a prosperous business. He did not launch a speculative international pool, either, where many economists and financiers have built great fortunes, leaving this world in the darkest misfortune at the opening of this 21st century.

After graduating, including with a special mention from the academic jury, he postponed his dreams of a master’s degree and doctorate to climb 3,600 meters above sea level, reaching the region of Zumbahua, a town in Pujilí district in the province of Cotopaxi. There, he threw himself into the hard work of the countryside, taught basic math and organized agricultural micro-enterprises.

Hearing him say that it was one of the finest experiences of his life, nobody would find it strange that the man who is now President Rafael Correa Delgado of Ecuador adheres to the ideas of 21st century socialism, which he defines as the supremacy of human beings over capital; that he says his country’s foreign debt is immoral and illegitimate, expressing a concept upheld by our Commander in Chief more than 20 years ago: our peoples have already paid it many times over.

That same modesty and concern for his people and Latin America and his visible emotion when he talking about Cuba were present during the exclusive interview that Correa granted Granma newspaper, taking a break from the busy schedule of his visit last week to our country, and which may be summed up by subject as follows:


"History has been witness to the closer ties among our peoples, to excellent relations. We had a president who is the strongest reference point for our Citizens Revolution: Eloy Alfaro. He demanded Cuba’s independence from the Spanish crown, and was even willing to send a detachment of soldiers to Cuba. He met José Martí, and they exchanged correspondence. The father of one of our national heroes, Alfredo Calderón, was Cuban. Many of our statesmen and historic figures — Vicente Rocafuerte, Juan Montalvo — lived in Havana or passed through it. Afterward, in 1959, the Cuban Revolution caused us to look upon this land with pride. Afterward, the pressures of the United States led us to break diplomatic relations in 1961, but relations between our sister peoples continued.

Since 1979, when they were renewed, we have had great ties at all levels but, with our government, they have become much more profound, given our ideological agreement, and the things that we have in common."


"Obviously, this visit will help to strengthen those relations even more. And our duty is to bring out concrete things. There have been previous trips; state visits, by presidents of the Republic. Nice agreements were signed, but they went nowhere; this time, we are going to fulfill things. There are areas where we can have fruitful exchanges of cooperation; for example, in the impressive development that Cuba has in education, health and biotechnology.

We experienced very moving moments, such as on January 8 when, during the event at which we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Fidel’s entry into Havana, I talked with relatives of the five Cuban heroes imprisoned in the United States. I didn’t know they were present. I know that case well – how inhuman and unjust their drastic sentences are. I had an immense opportunity, in front of their wives, mothers and daughters, to give them testimony of my solidarity and my commitment that Ecuador will do everything within its power to continue condemning this case, bringing pressure for this injustice to be corrected.

Unforgettable, the emotion of sharing with those who participated in the attack on the Moncada, with the heroes of the Liberty Convoy, with the relatives of Che, all there with Comandante Raúl Castro… More than talking with them about anything, it was just transmitting to them the pride and admiration that we feel for them, the honor it was to meet them."


"I insist on the idea that Latin America is not experiencing a time of change, but a change of era. If you compare the Latin America of today, its rulers, its leaders, with the Latin America of 10 years ago, the difference is enormous. Remember the Latin America of Menem, Collor de Mello, Fujimori, Jorgito Endara in Panama… today we have rulers who are more autonomous, more sovereign, more progressive. Neoliberal governments collapsed like houses of cards; a few of them are a still surviving here and there, but generally speaking, there have been many successive victories of leftist governments.

That means that we are in agreement about many things, and like never before, there is a pro-integration determination and spirit, but integration that we must materialize into concrete, tangible facts, into benefits for our peoples. In this context, there is a more united Latin America, with more agreement, more of a pro-integration spirit, and one palpable demonstration of that was the meeting in Salvador de Bahía, where Cuba joined the Rio Group. That was something that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago; it would have been necessary to ask the permission of a certain power in the North.

In the social aspect, I think much remains to be done, and that not much can be achieved while the same systems of before persist; it is not more capitalism, more neoliberalism or more markets that will solve these things. Latin America needs an alternative system, and in some countries — Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuela — there is an attempt to do this.

In the social aspect, unfortunately, I think that Latin America has not made much progress; we need to advance much more rapidly. That is the case in the economic aspect, as well. We still have very vulnerable, dependent systems, and it is very costly for us, for example, when there is a crisis that was not of our making, of which we have not been the originators or accomplices or anything like that. We are, perhaps, the principal victims of this crisis. The great challenge, then, is to create models that are more autonomous and less vulnerable, development that is truly endogenous, and as an essential part of that strategy, aim for a regional integration that would make us less vulnerable to external factors.

I think that the political aspect is changing, but in the social and economic aspects, we still have an extremely long way to go."


"Very good things are happening. I always give the example of UNASUR, because of all the integration attempts, it is the one with the largest universe. In other words, it is not just the Andean or Southern Cone countries, but all of South America, and because — and maybe most importantly — in contrast to processes such as the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) or MERCOSUR, which have been imbued solely on the commercial level in a virtually exclusive way — basically creating large markets — UNASUR is proposing complete integration in the social, economic and political and even institutional contexts.

For example, it includes regional citizenship, having common social security systems, common social policies, common economic policies, common strategies in multilateral agencies. Hopefully, we will soon be able to build that new structure or regional financial architecture, with a development bank, a reserve fund, and even a common currency. It is an attempt at integration that goes far beyond the commercial level, and for Latin America, that is very positive. "


"We are seeing the enemy. That is what I always say; I’ve said so to Comandante Raúl Castro. The Cuban bourgeoisie left the country, its enemies are basically outside and very clearly identified. In Ecuador, the bourgeoisie has remained there, and has attempted to torpedo all of the process of change from within, through the so-called free press, which is actually the press acting in the interests of certain privileges and interests; through supposed industrial associations; through certain groups in the Church; through supposed social organizations. Our process is less than two years old and you would not believe how many obstacles and attacks we have had to face.

The same economic crisis that we talked about is now used against the people, to invent all the fallacies and lies by the press (80% of which is against us), those associations, those pseudo-social groups. They latch onto people who have lost their jobs and tell them it’s the government’s fault, that they will get them out of poverty. The panorama is complex; it will be difficult. They are going to everything possible to destabilize us, to make us lose the elections. That is the challenge, but our response will be more democracy. We will always place our offices at the consideration of the Ecuadorian people, as many times as necessary.

What you say to me about our high rate of popularity is true; we are a government with a great deal of political capital that has sparked much popular support, we know that. But we cannot fool ourselves; all of that could change. It will not be an easy process. The oligarchy knows that it is defeated; the powerful groups know that they are being defeated by successive electoral processes in Ecuador, and they are going to put all of their efforts into trying to destabilize the government and into making us lose the elections."


"For me, Che is really something very special. He is a reference; he is one of the great men produced by humanity. For us, it will be very representative, very significant and very emotional to be able to visit that mausoleum, moments before leaving Cuba.

What does it mean? It means being accountable to history, paying tribute to a Latin American giant, but it is also a symbol of what the Citizens Revolution wants to be in Ecuador, that kind of sacrifice to the extreme, giving everything for the ideals that sustain us, giving everything for serving others, giving everything for solidarity. So, it is also a symbol and a message that our Citizens Revolution is one of Alfaro, of Bolívar, but also of Guevara."

(Translated by Granma International)

No comments:

Post a Comment