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Statement from the Embassy of Ecuador to the United States Regarding Agreement to Scale Back US Military Presence in Ecuador

Friday, April 25th, 2014

In light of improvement in political stability and increases in the defense capacity and internal security of Ecuador, together with a general decrease in regional tensions, Ecuador, in communication with the United States in the last few months, has been reevaluating the need for bilateral military cooperation in our country.

Ecuador has decided to restructure the military relationship and reduce the presence of United States military personnel in Ecuador; and the United States has accepted the said decision. This position reflects the increase in capacities and resources of Ecuador to directly assume security and defense efforts independently. For example, in the last few years, Ecuador has considerably increased its investment in all areas of security, and now invests the highest percentage of GDP of all countries in Latin America in these efforts. As a result, we have seized more than 57 tons of narcotics in 2013, and more than $67 million of illegally laundered funds, which has led the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to include Ecuador among the top 10 most successful countries in efforts against drug trafficking.

This new security scheme will reduce the number of U.S. military personnel assigned to the United States Embassy in Ecuador starting in the end of April. A central group of military attachés will remain in the Embassy, as is common in normal bilateral relations. Furthermore, a limited number of programs financed by the United States of an approximate amount of $7 million annually will be transferred to the Government of Ecuador for evaluation, and if necessary, financing.

As the United States Embassy in Quito confirmed the declarations this morning on Ecuador TV, this provision will not affect bilateral relations, as the United States government respects this decision.


Friday, April 25th, 2014

Funds will be ensure greater effectiveness of the control system of the Government of Ecuador

WASHINGTON, DC (April 24, 2014)- Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States Nathalie Cely signed today a $20 million loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The funds will finance the implementation of a program to improve the control functions of the State Comptroller General.

“I am very excited to be here on behalf of the Government of Ecuador signing this loan agreement with the IDB,” said Nathalie Cely, Ambassador of Ecuador to the US. “We look forward to using these funds to strengthening the efficacy of our State Comptroller General’s office and the services it provides to our citizens.”

The objective of the program is to contribute to developing a more effective government control system by improving the quality, coverage, and timeliness of the Office of the Comptroller General of Ecuador’s control of public funds. To achieve this objective, the program provides for the implementation of activities that include: (i) improving standards, processes and information systems, (ii) development of human talent and strengthening of capacities, and (iii) improvement in the interaction of the Comptroller General with public managers and citizens.

The Government of Ecuador is pleased to have signed this loan agreement with the IDB and looks forward to new opportunities for cooperation that will contribute to further the Government of Ecuador’s mission to improve its services.

President of Ecuador Rafael Correa to Charlie Rose: “Our Economic Performance is One of the Best in the Region”

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

In candid interview, President Correa discusses US-Ecuador relations, Julian Assange, and the development of Latin America

NEW YORK (15 April 2014)– In a half-hour interview that aired nationally in the U.S. and across the globe, President of Ecuador Rafael Correa sat down with Charlie Rose on Friday to describe the country’s growing economy, the importance of creating just societies, the relationship between the United States and Latin America, and the decision to grant asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

During the interview, President Correa highlighted Ecuador’s commitment to eliminate poverty and increase social equality by implementing policies, institutions and programs that ensure the country’s wealthiest are no longer given unfair privileges. This included the success that the country has had in the areas of education, health systems and economic growth.

“Our economic performance is one of the best in the region,” said President Correa. “For instance, our unemployment rate is around 4%.”

He added that, “To eliminate poverty… is the moral imperative for our government. We are underdeveloped because we have historically been controlled by powerful elites. So we have to change this power relationship, and we are doing exactly that through a very democratic process.”

President Correa also expressed that although he believes that Ecuador and the United States have a good relationship, he “would like to improve these relations” by increasing understanding between the two sides.

“I think we have good relations, but it could be better,” he said. “[We could] know each other in a better way, to understand what is going on in Ecuador. To know a little bit more, not just Ecuador, the whole Latin America.”

“The foreign policy of the United States hasn’t taken into account Latin America and this is a mistake,” President Correa added. “Perhaps the biggest economies, but there are several other countries that are not much taken into account. And that is a situation that must change.”

President Correa also addressed Ecuador’s decision to grant asylum to Julian Assange, saying, “Perhaps I don’t agree with what Julian Assange did. But that is not the problem. The problem is not politics. The problem is justice. We examined for two months the request of asylum of Julian Assange, and we concluded that … there was not a guarantee of due process. For that reason we gave asylum to Julian Assange.”

Finally, President Correa also addressed Ecuador’s diverse and colorful media environment, and the important efforts to encourage free press independent of powerful interests.

“It’s a good thing to have public media, which is not controlled by the government. [Public media] has independence and can criticize the government,” he stated. “Private media criticizes the government everyday. Many of them are owned by the elite.”

In addition to the Charlie Rose interview, President Correa was also welcomed by many esteemed business, cultural, academic, media, and environmental figures during his visit to New York, who accepted invitations issued by the Embassy of Ecuador to the United States in the spirit of friendship in which they were offered. While there was no compensation for any attendees of any event involving the President, guests walked away with keen desires to visit and explore Ecuador’s beauty and opportunities further.

The full interview can be viewed at http://www.charlierose.com/watch/60375171

Modernizing foreign direct investment for the 21st century, Op Ed by Ambassador Cely

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Published by THE HILL
April, 10, 2014

As economies around the world become increasingly connected and intertwined, we must put a global trade system in place that can adapt to this ever-changing 21st century world. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has the potential to contribute significantly to sustainable economic development but we must have trade policies that meet the needs of not just the industrialized world, but also developing economies.

For decades, FDI has been largely guided by bilateral or multilateral investment treaties. Currently, there are more than 3,000 bilateral and regional agreements for the protection of investments around the world. These agreements provide the underlying legal structure for the international system of investments.

However, the implementation of these treaties has increasingly led to negative consequences to developing countries like Ecuador, leading to a growing wave of criticism. Those consequences have included the outsized power of international arbitrators to interpret these treaties; the lack of transparency in the process; and the marginalization of the capacity for a state to implement oversight policies. This all can have a negative impact not only on a government but on the people it serves.
For example, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has correctly observed that this system has significantly hindered the ability of developing countries to protect their environment from extracting activities carried out by mining and oil companies; their citizens’ health from the tobacco companies; and their economies from the ruinous financial products that played such a large role in the 2008 global financial crisis.

In the mid-20th century, countries in Latin America often fell victim to this imperfect system as their resources were exploited by foreign companies drawn to newly discovered oil. Most of these nations at the time, like Ecuador, suffered from the lack of a cohesive structure for dealing with foreign companies and investors. We also suffered institutional weaknesses that undermined the ability to formulate appropriate public policies to regulate our markets.

Now, in 2014, countries in Latin America are seeing unprecedented growth due in part to reforms that have stabilized markets and have encouraged investments for the economic and social development of each nation. The region has experienced growth rates surpassing 4 percent for the last decade – during a time when even countries like the United States were experiencing economic difficulties.

Since being elected in 2007, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has been instrumental in achieving economic stability after nine presidents were dismissed from office since 1996. The steadiness during his presidency has positioned Ecuador as a regional leader, drawing recognition from the World Bank for advancing from being a middle-income economy to an upper middle-income one. Most recently, one major U.S. multinational company committed to expand by $1 billion over the next five years. Additionally, Ecuador has adopted one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly Constitutions – it provides nature with rights and a regulatory framework governing public and private operations.

On a broader scale, we convened a conference this week with the VALE Columbia Center on Sustainable Foreign Investment with world-class economists, attorneys and academics to discuss and develop solutions to improve development and investment treaties. To that end, Ecuador’s story provides an important lesson as we expand global trade initiatives and work to fix the current investor-state arbitrator system.

Oil was discovered in the Ecuadorean Amazon in the 1960s and its extraction controlled by Texaco (now owned by Chevron). Our rainforest is considered to be one of the most bio diverse habitats, and yet its ecology has suffered devastating damages as a result of the callous techniques used under Texaco’s direction. Over the past 20 years there have been countless legal actions between harmed citizens, Texaco, Chevron and the Ecuadorean state.

Despite years of litigation – ten in the United States and ten in Ecuador – the damage is not remedied. The Chevron case is a textbook example of why the arbitration system needs overhauling – the endless litigation has yet to produce a viable resolution and our people still suffer.

Reform should address the legitimacy, consistency, and predictability of the system by instituting: 1) a transparent selection of arbitrators who only exercise this role and do not defend companies in other venues, which can result in obvious interest conflicts, 2) the establishment of an appellate body within the arbitration system, 3) the incorporation in investment treaties investors’ obligation to file claims only after local legal avenues have been exhausted, and 4) the incorporation of the right of States to exercise their regulatory capacity on issues related to health, environment and industrial policy, among others.

These needed reforms cannot happen overnight but we must have open and transparent discussions on reforming the system so that we can have a regulatory and legal framework that works in the modern, global 21st century economy. The hard lessons we painfully learned in Ecuador must be a teachable moment. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by.

Embassy of Ecuador in Washington, D.C. Issues Response to U.S. Senators’ Letter to President Correa

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

It is disappointing that a small group of U.S. Senators have chosen to publicly misrepresent the actions and policies of the Republic of Ecuador, especially after the Embassy has engaged in ongoing direct communications with these same officials in order to share further information on the issues they raised in their letter.

As we have informed this small group of Senators, the move by USAID to halt operations in Ecuador was a unilateral decision by USAID, not the Government of Ecuador. We value constructive cooperation with the U.S. that contributes to the development of our country, such as the cooperation being established during the President’s visit to the U.S. this week. We welcome future dialogue in this respect.

Additionally, the legal and political issues referenced in the letter have been reviewed and processed by an independent judiciary, consistent with national and international law. Political opposition is welcome and encouraged in our Ecuador, and we encourage the Senators to read the hundreds of Ecuadorian newspapers to discover the colorful diversity of views that are freely expressed every day. We value diversity of opinion as part of our healthy, robust democracy; we cannot countenance the intentional dissemination of lies.

Finally, regarding the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Ecuador is one of many countries calling for increasing the effectiveness of rapporteurs for women, children, indigenous people, and others in order to strengthen the system.

It is disappointing and disingenuous that these facts were not shared or referenced in today’s letter. The Embassy of Ecuador remains open to continuing these conversations with all representatives of the Senate, and we recognize that these 8 Senators do not represent the opinions of the entire U.S. government or the American people.

As President Correa visits the U.S. this week, we are excited by the many new opportunities for education exchange, technology transfer, and increased trade and investment that are being discussed. We and many others recognize the mutual benefits of such cooperation for our countries.