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ECUADOR OBTAINS LOAN FROM THE WORLD BANK TO INVEST IN EDUCATION REFORM PROJECTS

Friday, January 29th, 2016

This week, Francisco Borja, Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States, subscribed the Loan Agreement with the World Bank to finance the project “Supporting Education Reform in Targeted Circuits”, for a total amount of 178.000.000,00 USD. The education reform is part of the Macro-Project “New Education Infrastructure” which will be managed by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education.

The aim of this ambitious project is to increase enrollment in early education and improve the persistence rate in lower secondary education and upper secondary education in the targeted circuits.

The project consists of two main phases that include improving schools services in targeted circuits and strengthening planning, management and evaluation capacity at the Education Ministry.

The project includes, among others, provision of support for the technical design, construction and supervision of school hubs in the targeted circuits, including the construction of new schools, renovations and expansions. Also, provision of support for in-service teacher training in the targeted circuits and finance for teachers to enroll in graduate programs. Principals and school authorities will also benefit in taking part of graduate programs in school management provided by selected accredited institutions.

“Supporting Education Reform in Targeted Circuits” also seeks to provide support for students with disabilities and special education through the provision of technical, didactic and disability specific education materials including the provision of teacher training in pedagogy on educational needs that arise in the course of a student’s individual development.

Lastly, the funds will also be used for the implementation of campaigns to promote the enrollment of children with disabilities in educational facilities, in tune with the social inclusion policies of the national government.


ECUADOR CONCRETA PRESTAMO CON EL BANCO MUNDIAL PARA IMPLEMENTAR PROYECTOS DE REFORMA EDUCATIVA

Friday, January 29th, 2016

El día 28 de enero, el embajador Francisco Borja, en representación del Gobierno ecuatoriano, suscribió con el Banco Mundial el contrato de préstamo que financiará el proyecto “Apoyo a la Reforma Educativa en Circuitos Focalizados”, por un monto de 178.000.000,00 USD como parte del macro-proyecto “Nueva Infraestructura Educativa”, cuya gestión estará a cargo del Ministerio de Educación.

El objetivo de este ambicioso proyecto es incrementar la inscripción en la educación temprana y mejorar la tasa de permanencia en la educación secundaria y la educación secundaria superior, en los circuitos focalizados e identificados como prioritarios.

El proyecto se compone de dos fases principales que incluyen la mejora de los servicios de las escuelas en los circuitos específicos y el fortalecimiento de las capacidades de planificación, gestión y evaluación del Ministerio de Educación.

La Reforma Educativa en Circuitos Focalizados incluye, entre otros, la prestación de apoyo para el diseño técnico, construcción y supervisión de centros escolares en los circuitos focalizados, que contempla la construcción de nuevas escuelas, además de las renovaciones y expansiones que se consideren necesarias. Adicionalmente, el proyecto contempla la prestación de apoyo a la formación del profesorado en los circuitos focalizados y el financiamiento para que los maestros puedan inscribirse en programas de posgrado, complementando así su formación. Directores y autoridades de las escuelas priorizadas también podrán acceder a la formación de posgrado en programas de gestión escolar que sean proporcionados por instituciones acreditadas seleccionadas.

Finalmente, el proyecto también tiene como objetivo proporcionar apoyo a los estudiantes con discapacidad y aquellos que precisan de educación especial, a través de la provisión de materiales de educación técnica y didáctica, incluyendo la provisión de formación docente en pedagogía sobre las necesidades educativas que surjan en el curso del desarrollo individual del estudiante con capacidades especiales.

En congruencia con las políticas de inclusión del Gobierno Nacional, también se dedicarán fondos a la realización de campañas que promuevan la inscripción de niños con discapacidad en las instalaciones educativas del país, para que así puedan tener acceso a una educación digna.


STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL WILL APPEAL THE DECISION OF THE DISTRICT COURT IN THE HAGUE IN THE CHEVRON III CASE

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

The State Attorney General, Dr. Diego García Carrión, announced that Ecuador would appeal the decision of the Court in The Hague that dismissed the annulment petition submitted by the State of Ecuador against a series of arbitration awards issued by the Tribunal assigned to try the claim brought by Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Company against Ecuador. Chevron had claimed alleged judicial fraud in the lawsuit that ordered the oil company to provide compensation to redress the contamination caused throughout Texaco’s operation in the country.

The State Attorney General highlighted the patent error made by Dutch judges when they rejected solid arguments, including the prohibition on a retroactive application of an International Treaty or to a allow a State to interfere with judicial decisions against its own legal framework.

Ecuador filed the annulment petitions against the jurisdiction, partial and interim awards pursuant to which the Tribunal decided that it was competent to try the case, in spite of the absence of investment at the time of the BIT’s entry into force, and other awards that ordered Ecuador to adopt actions preventing enforcement of the environmental suit’s judgment. The Arbitration Tribunal has yet to decide on the merits of Chevron’s claim. This decision now pends and is being tried in different proceedings.

Ecuador’s arguments focuses on the obvious lack of jurisdiction of the Tribunal that determined it was competent to try the arbitration claim under the Bilateral Treaty signed with the United States – the only instrument that could grant jurisdiction to the Tribunal –entered into force in 1997, i.e., five years after Texaco abandoned Ecuador.

The awards also threaten Ecuador’s public order, because they order the Ecuadorian government itself to disregard a judgment that was validly issued by the courts, precluding thereby any analysis on the legality of this judgment by exercised by Ecuadorian courts. Therefore, the State of Ecuador’s defense had explained to the Tribunal that it was impossible to abide by arbitration awards, because doing so would violated its public order.

In turn, the State Attorney General rejected Chevron’s statements regarding this decision. He rejects that they highlight the purported legitimacy of arbitration awards, despite that the parties have had not exhausted the instances of review before Dutch Courts and wrongly announced a victory in the final award, to be issued in the ongoing arbitration case.

He notes that the arbitration tribunal, in its most recent decision, had denied Chevron’s arguments because, in March 2015, the Tribunal had already declared the absence of any impediment to submission of the Lago Agrio litigants’ environmental claim against the company. This implies that the Arbitration Tribunal was carefully reviewing Ecuador’s arguments prior to ruling, and Chevron could not attribute any success to itself.


PROCURADURÍA GENERAL DEL ESTADO APELARÁ DE LA DECISIÓN DE LA CORTE DISTRITAL DE LA HAYA EN EL CASO CHEVRON III

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

El Procurador General del Estado, Dr. Diego García Carrión, anunció que el Ecuador apelará la decisión de la Corte de La Haya que desestimó el pedido de anulación que el Estado ecuatoriano presentó respecto a varios laudos arbitrales dictados por el Tribunal que conoce la demanda presentada por Chevron Corporation y Texaco Petroleum Company contra el Ecuador, por un supuesto fraude judicial ocurrido en el juicio que condenó a la petrolera a una indemnización para reparar la contaminación causada durante los años de operación de Texaco en el país.

El Procurador General del Estado resaltó el claro error de los jueces holandeses al rechazar argumentos sólidos como la imposibilidad de aplicar retroactivamente el Tratado internacional o para admitir que contra su propia normativa un Estado puede intervenir en las decisiones judiciales.

El Ecuador presentó los pedidos de anulación, respecto de los laudos de jurisdicción, parcial e interinos por los cuales el Tribunal consideró que tenía competencia para conocer el caso a pesar de que no existía inversión al momento de la vigencia del TBI, y otros en los que se ordenó al Ecuador a tomar acciones para que la sentencia del juicio ambiental no sea ejecutada. Todavía el Tribunal Arbitral no se ha pronunciado sobre el fondo de la pretensión de Chevron, decisión que aún está pendiente y que se sigue en un proceso diferente al de la anulación.

Los argumentos del Ecuador se centraron en la obvia incompetencia del Tribunal que se consideró facultado para conocer la demanda arbitral en razón de que el Tratado Bilateral suscrito con Estados Unidos, que es el único instrumento que podría otorgar jurisdicción al Tribunal, entró en vigencia en 1997, es decir cinco años después de que Texaco abandonó el Ecuador.

Los laudos además atentan contra el orden público del Ecuador, en razón de que a través de ellos se ordena el que el propio gobierno ecuatoriano sea el que desconozca una sentencia válidamente emitida por sus cortes, impidiendo además así que cualquier análisis sobre la legalidad de dicha sentencia pueda ser practicado por las cortes ecuatorianas. En razón de ello, en su momento la defensa del Estado ecuatoriano explicó al Tribunal arbitral la imposibilidad de acatar los laudos arbitrales porque hacerlo estaría contra su orden público.

Por otra parte, el Procurador General rechazó las declaraciones de Chevron efectuadas en torno a esta decisión, mismas que realzan la supuesta legitimidad de los laudos arbitrales, cuando aún no se han agotado las instancias de revisión ante las Cortes Holandesas y equivocadamente anuncian una victoria en el laudo definitivo a ser dictado en el proceso arbitral en curso.

Resaltó que debe tomarse en cuenta que el tribunal arbitral en su última decisión se ha alejado de los argumentos de Chevron, ya que consideró, en marzo de 2015, ya declaró que no existió impedimento para la presentación de la demanda ambiental contra la compañía por parte de los litigantes de Lago Agrio. Todo ello, permite colegir que el Tribunal Arbitral está examinando cuidadosamente los argumentos de Ecuador antes de pronunciarse, sin que quepa atribuirse ningún triunfo por parte de Chevron.


ECUADOR REFUTES CHEVRON ARGUMENTS

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Today, January 15th, the Subcommittee on General System of Preferences (GSP), an agency of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), held a hearing to evaluate Chevron’s 2012 request to withdraw or suspend Ecuador’s GSP benefits for allegedly flouting arbitration awards.

During the hearing, Francisco Borja, Ecuadorian Ambassador to the United States, reiterated Ecuador’s commitment to work for a fair and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship with the United States and highlighted the recent signing of an unprecedented agreement with the Department of Justice to defend the rights of Ecuadorians in the United States.

“We also have a fruitful cooperation with concrete results in areas, such as maritime interdiction, judicial cooperation, and in our common goal to fight terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as significant developments in the bilateral trade relationship. These are just some of the subjects in our broad bilateral agenda that we are committed to moving forward,” stressed Ambassador Borja.

In his speech before the subcommittee, Ambassador Borja stated to be “genuinely concerned for the fact that a private company is trying to weaken the strong ties between our two nations.” Ecuador calls for the legal issues between Chevron and Ecuador to be resolved by the pertinent tribunals in charge of such disputes.

Finally, Ambassador Borja emphasized that “Ecuador has always met its arbitration obligations and our complying history proves we meet the eligibility criteria of the GSP.”

Chevron claims that Ecuador has failed to comply with various arbitration awards issued by The Hague Tribunal in regards to the private litigation between the Company and the indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon. During the hearing the legal team from the Ecuadorian Embassy demonstrated that Chevron has a track record of trying to negatively affect the commercial relationship between Ecuador and the United States; and that with this new attempt, it seeks to influence the outcome of the pending arbitration process, that the partial arbitration awards that Chevron is claiming are subject to change and are not a reason to end the preferential treatment because the GSP refers to final arbitration awards; that Ecuador has been compliant of its international obligations, and that the payments that Chevron is claiming are part of a pending case.

Ecuador’s lawyer, Eric Bloom, stated that Ecuador has been compliant of all the US requirements regarding arbitration awards and that Ecuadorian courts have acted according to the law and in good faith. Bloom also stated that “the validity of the interim awards is under revision,” so currently there is no breach of obligations. “Chevron is asking the USTR to determine Ecuador’s tariff preferences in the middle of a dispute,” he added. Bloom urged the Subcommittee “to let the legal process continue its course and to refrain from pre-judging issues that are being contested at the moment.”

The USTR does not have a set deadline to make a decision on this petition. Ecuador will continue to be a beneficiary of the GSP while the process is still open. The Ecuadorian-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), which brings together American companies that operate in Ecuador, and the Ecuadorian Federation of Exporters (Fedexpor), have supported Ecuador’s position in letters sent to the USTR, highlighting the benefits that the GSP generates in both countries.

The GSP is a tariff preferences system that benefits more than 120 countries, whereby Ecuador exports fruits, natural fruit juice, vegetables, seafood, wood, flowers, electric conductors, ceramics, and other goods to the United Stated with preferential tariffs through the GSP. This program has helped Ecuador diversify its exports and has facilitated new industry development and investment, which also has generated significant employment and income opportunities for vulnerable sectors of the mountain region and those areas near to our borders, prone to illegal activities related to transnational crimes.

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