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.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ecuador accuses US official of taking police files

By Maria Eugenia Tello

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Ecuador's leftist president, Rafael Correa, on Tuesday accused a U.S. diplomat he expelled of taking computers and sensitive police files from the country.

Correa threw out the embassy official on Saturday, saying the low-level diplomat had meddled in police affairs by trying to handpick officers involved in a U.S. aid project.

"A foreign embassy official takes computers with him ... and information from the national police. We won't stand for this. We will investigate and make a complaint," Correa told navy officers in the city of Guayaquil.

"The days of colonialism are behind us," said Correa, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who faces re-election in April.

Correa, a U.S.-trained economist, has generally had good relations with the United States, but political analysts say he could bolster his poll ratings by taking a tough line on what he deems as foreign interference.

U.S. authorities have downplayed the incident, saying the official, Armando Astorga, had already left the Andean nation in January as part of a normal staff rotation.

Carlos Cordova, a pollster with Cedatos-Gallup said, "This shows you that Correa will use every tool to gain votes for his re-election. He wants to inflate the nationalistic spirit and portray himself as a strong leader."

Many Ecuadoreans are critical of U.S. policy in Latin America, particularly Washington's military aid to neighboring Colombia to fight a four-decade guerrilla war that sometimes spills across the border.

The United States is Ecuador's main trading partner and the destination for much of its oil and banana exports.

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