Archive for the ‘Rafael Correa’ Category

Ecuador: Demonstrations against Correa

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Protesters in Ecuador Demonstrate Against Correa’s PoliciesNew tax proposals from Ecuadorean president are especially unpopular

Thousands of protesters on Thursday took to the streets of Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, to protest against the policies of President Rafael Correa, especially new tax proposals.

The Guayaquil demonstrations, led by Mayor Jaime Nebot, were part of the third week of protests against Mr. Correa’s government. On Thursday mass protests also took place in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and in other cities.
. . .
A bill to tax inheritances up to 77.5% and a 75% tax for capital gains from real estate ignited protests which included complaints about other economic policies of the government and what critics describe as President Correa’s dictatorial attitude.

95% of businesses are family-owned, according to the WSJ report.

The theme of the protests was “enough is enough,” according to Ecuador En Vivo, which broadcast live the demonstration in Guayaquil.

Whether the protests have any effect remains to be seen. As Oswaldo Toscano puts it, Correa Is Not Ecuador’s Problem, Socialism Is

Ecuador: Hasta la vista, dollars!

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Dollarization brought great benefits to the Ecuadorian people, as Steve Hanke (who 14 years ago was the chief intellectual architect of Ecuador’s switch to the dollar) points out,

Ecuadorians know that dollarization has allowed them to import a vital element of the rule of law — one that protects them from the grabbing hand of the State. That’s why recent polling results show that dollarization is embraced by 85% of the population.

Prof. Hanke also knows that going off the dollar will have dire consequences for Ecuador’s economy:

“If you go off, the fiscal deficit gets bigger, the level of debt gets bigger, inflation goes up and economic growth goes down. All the economic indicators just go south.”

So pres. Rafael Correa is attempting to de-dollarize, but not blatantly. How so?

Ecuador Mandates Bank Participation in National E-Money Initiative

Ecuador’s e-money initiative, which kicked off earlier this year after the country outlawed bitcoin, is about to see wider institutional involvement following a government directive.

The country’s banks were ordered late last month to adopt the payment system within the next year, according to a report by Pan-Am Post’s Belén Marty. The pace at which the banks are required to add support for the initiative, which is a digital representation of the US dollar – Ecuador’s official currency – depends on their size.

So it’s not even bit-coin, but it’s compulsory:

The nation’s central bank has given them 360 days to get on board, with a mandate inResolution 064-2015-M, released on May 25 in the official register.
. . .
The resolution gives a sweeping and vague definition of “macroagents” for adoption: “companies, organizations, and public or private institutions; financial institutions of the popular and cooperative system; that maintain a network of establishments available for clients and are capable of acquiring mobile money, distributing it, or converting it into varieties of money.”

Additionally, the Central Bank of Ecuador (BCE)’s crypto-currency transactions carry no privacy.

The dollar is taken out of the picture, and protection from “the grabbing hand of the State” is erased. Hasta la vista, baby!

More at the circus: Correa & Obama, BFFs

Monday, April 13th, 2015

From the VII Summit of the Americas circus, 2 items:

Rafael Correa managed to tear himself away from Twitter to give a speech condemning the U.S., and portraying Latin America (and especially Ecuador) as a paragon of freedom and human rights. Mercifully, he did not try to inflict it on his audience in English.

You can watch the whole speech (subtitled in English):

Barack Obama was next, and, as you can see, he agreed with Correa (emphasis added),

I wanna make one last comment, er, addressing er, some of the points that er, president Correa raised that I’m sure will be raised by a few others during this discussion. Er, I always enjoy the history lessons that I receive, er, when I’m here.

Having prefaced that, Obama continued,

I am a student of history so I tend to actually be familiar with many of these episodes that have been mentioned. I am the first one to acknowledge that America’s application to concern around human rights has not always been consistent. And, I’m certainly mindful that there are dark chapters in our own history in which we have not always observed the principles and ideals upon which the country was founded. Just a few weeks ago I was in Selma, Alabama celebrating the 50th anniversary of a march across a bridge that resulted in horrific violence and the reason I was there and the reason it was a celebration is because it was a triumph of human spirit in which ordinary people without resort to violence were able to overcome systematic segregation. There voices were heard and our country changed. America never makes a claim about being perfect, we do make a claim about being open to change.

Here’s a quick glance at International rankings of Ecuador, and you can read the Human Rights Watch report on Ecuador.

How’s that for history lessons?

Ecuador: Correa tweets!

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Ecuador’s president tweets ‘Heil Hitler’

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Thursday tweeted a slogan famous for praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Correa posted the controversial message after a Twitter critic accused him of being a fascist. The South American leader responded with a chant first heard in World War Two-era Germany.

“Heil Hitler!” Correa tweeted at @WKybalion on Thursday.

The crashed plane Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

An Argentine turboprop airplane crashed and burned shortly after taking off, killing all 10 people aboard,

Witnesses at the airport said that a few minutes after takeoff they heard a significant explosion followed by a huge fireball.

The passengers were members of the Argentine company La Rural which is an associate in a project to exploit a Convention Center under construction in the Atlantic resort of Punta del Este and had flown to Uruguay for a business conference with their Uruguayan partners and the local government.

La Rural is a leading company in Argentina and Latin America in the fairs, congress and events industry.

Was it an accident?

ARGENTINA
Exactly two months after his murder, Argentine Government Accuses Nisman of Embezzlement

Dead Argentine prosecutor was zeroing in on a terror threat to the entire Western Hemisphere

Investigan un supuesto refugio de jerarcas nazis en Argentina

BRAZIL
POLL NUMBERS!!! Dilma’s drop

Why is Brazil so angry?
Big Question: Over a million people took to the streets over the weekend calling for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, five months after she won a general election

CHILE
Hundreds protest over Chile bishopProtesters shout as Rev Juan Barros enter the Osorno cathedral
Hundreds of people in Chile try to stop the ordination of Catholic Bishop Juan Barros, accusing him of covering up a sex abuse scandal.

COLOMBIA
Drug Gang Led by Female Trafficker from Mexico Nabbed in Colombia

Guerra y paz en Colombia

CUBA
[pdf file] An Illusory Opening to Cuba:
Why Florida Shouldn’t Walk Through the Breach

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Where “Cold War Charm” is the half-century long misery endured by the inmates of the island-prison: Cuba’s Cold War charm has D.R. wary about losing U.S. tourists to next-door neighbor

ECUADOR
#19M Protests Put Correa’s Citizen Revolution on Notice
Thousands March in Ecuador as Anti-Authoritarian Outrage Boils Over

Populist Playbook: The Slow Death of Democracy in Correa’s Ecuador

HAITI
Clinton Foundation’s chickens coming home to roost in Haiti?

WaPo Reporter: Bill Clinton ‘So Disliked’ in Haiti After Charity Work ‘He Couldn’t Even Run for Mayor’

HILLARY CLINTON’S BROTHER DEFENDS HAITI GOLD MINE DEAL: ‘I RAISE MONEY FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE’

HONDURAS
Are Special Economic Zones the answer? How ZEDEs Can Make Honduras Prosperous
Next-Generation Zones for an Anti-Poverty Success Story

Honduras sends soldiers to protect ‘lost city’ from drug cartels
Expendition team reportedly split on how to safeguard artefacts from looters after ‘lost city’ rediscovered in Honduras jungle also used by drug trafficker

JAMAICA
US Say Courts Crippling Ja Narcotics Fight

MEXICO
US Court Convicts Mexican of Kidnapping Mexican in Mexico
Federal Jury Convicts Mexican Citizen Living in San Antonio for His Role in Kidnapping Scheme

NICARAGUA
Wang Jing: The man behind the Nicaragua canal project

PARAGUAY
Paraguay and Latin America are officially the happiest nations in the world, in a Bobby McFerrin sort of way?

PERU
Peru’s Premier Removes Senior Spy Officials
Peru’s prime minister removed the head of the National Intelligence Service and other high-level officials, as allegations widened that the spy agency for years gathered information on a broad range of well-known people.

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s Catholic Church Calls for Referendum on Gay Marriage

SOUTH AMERICA
The Islamization of South America

URUGUAY
After years in Guantanamo, ex-detainees find little solace in Uruguay Apparently they don’t have Uruguayan passports yet.

VENEZUELA

Unbroken: Former Venezuelan Political Prisoner Speaks Out
Police Chief Lucchese Describes His Year Behind Bars at Ramo Verde Military Prison

Enabling Maduro’s Tyranny in Venezuela
US Sanctions Give Perfect Excuse for Crackdown on Dissent
. I disagree – the crackdown has been going on, well before any sanctions.

Maduro’s English in action,

Yes, Venezuela is a security threat

Drums of War or Pipes of Peace?

Ecuador: Thousands protest

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Thousands Protest Against Government in Ecuador
Protesters rail against economic, labor and social policies

Thousands of people took to the streets in Quito and at least 12 other cities in Ecuador Thursday to protest against the government of President Rafael Correa, asking for changes in economic, labor and social policies.
. . .
Protest leaders said they are protesting against planned labor and land reforms, to reject large-scale mining and new oil tenders, and against planned constitutional reforms that will open up the possibility for indefinite re-election for elected posts. Leaders also said they are against new tariffs for 38% of the imported products. Economists said the tariff increase would cause a general increase in prices, affecting mainly the middle class.

Protesters marched about two kilometers in central Quito, carrying signs that read, “We want democracy” and “No more tax and tariff increases” as well as “Say no to re-election.”

As you may recall, last year Rafael Correa was pondering whether to continue as president after 2017, even when the constitution prevents it.

Last year he also came up with a fake currency to cover up a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion. This year he asked China for help.

.

Ecuador: John Oliver goofs on Correa

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

‘TWITTER WAR’ GOES INTERNATIONAL
Ecuadoreans hail John Oliver for taking a swing at their ‘sensitive’ president
(video here)

Correa was not amused,

But Acción Ortográfica was vigilant on the grammar,

Correa spelling

Venezuela: Maduro does/doesn’t get $20billion UPDATED

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

After Russia, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro headed to China in his search for funds. He wore a suit:

He didn’t get what he was after:

When Nicolas mentioned US$ 20 billion, the Chinese smiled. An unscrutable [sic] smile at that. US$ 20 billion, they said, we would not pay that for all of Mongolia, said one of the Chinese. Nicolas argued back saying Sidor alone was worth US$ 10 billion, to what Ling Pin answered: “Chavez paid US$ 1.97 billion for it when it was functioning and eporting [sic]”. As we went out Maduro asked me what that was about and I said: “I did not know that”

Devil’s Excrement has the unofficial Road Trip or The Fantastic Voyage tale.

Bloomberg has the serious take:
Maduro Says Venezuela Gets $20 Billion New China Investment.

Let that heading sink in: Maduro says.

Moving right along (emphasis added),

The impact of the announcement will depend on how much of the $20 billion will be a cash transfer instead of long-term contracts for Chinese goods and labor, Eurasia Group analyst Risa Grais-Targow said in an e-mailed report.

“The funds do not necessarily represent freely available cash that the government can use for imports or to make debt payments,” Grais-Targow said.

Venezuela owes China over $45 billion in loans over the past decade, mostly in return for oil supplies, including a $4 billion loan in July. [Note: In Wednesday’s podcast, I said that Venezuela owes China over $50 billion, not including the July 2014 $4b. I stand corrected.]

Things are bad enough that

Foreign companies working to develop some of Venezuela’s most prized oilfields are asking to be compensated with crude as a way to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid cash owed to them

which, by the way, also avoids the foreign currency control mess.

But wait!

Maduro’s not the only guy looking to China for a handout:
Correa Heads to China for Financial Lifeline
Ecuadorian President Secures US$7.5 Billion Loans to Plug Oil Shortfall

Correa has already netted loans worth US$7.5 billion and signed nine bilateral cooperation agreements with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

China Boosts Support for Latin Leftists
China Pledged Billions of Dollars of Financing to Venezuela and Ecuador, Two South American Energy Exporters Battered by Falling Oil Prices

Experts said it was unclear without further details what kind of impact the new financing would have on the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian economies.

Next thing you know, Nic & Rafa may have to start building canals.

UPDATE:
The planned investment is weird stuff

Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

. . . he hires Putin’s PR people.

Two items from Ecuador,

First:

I’ve been hesitating to review Paul M. Barrett’s new book, Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing to Win about fraudster Steven Donziger.

While the book is interesting, I find statements like “While not a materialistic person driven by financial rewards, Donziger sometimes groused about the cost of his career choices” (page 134) exasperating. Paul Barrett may believe that Donziger was not “driven by financial rewards” while setting up a Gibraltar corporation to hold proceeds of the judgment, but readers of Law of the Jungle should read Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, which quotes Donziger’s personal notebook on April 4, 2007:

. . . I sit back and dream. I cannot believe what we have accomplished. Important people interested in us. A new paradigm of not only a case, but how to do a case. Chevron wanting to settle. Billions of dollars on the table. A movie, a possible book.I cannot keep up with it all.

That said, Barrett is now under attack by the Republic of Ecuador’s U.S. public relations advisers, New York-based Ketchum. His article, What It’s Like to Be Attacked by Putin’s American Flack explains the latest,

Ketchum’s memo about my book connects the dots regarding why Ecuador cares so passionately about the case. Among the “difficult questions” Law of the Jungle raises, according to Ketchum:

Barrett’s book does raise many questions, among them,

• “Ecuador took the biggest part of the income obtained from petroleum extracted from the Amazon, approximately $23.5 billion against $1.6 billion for Texaco-Chevron.” The precise figures are subject to dispute, but according to government records, the split was roughly 90-10 in favor of Ecuador. This contradicts a central theme of the plaintiffs’ (and Correa’s) narrative: that Texaco derived all the benefit from industrializing the rain forest and left the host country with only the nasty side effects. The Ketchum memo warns the embassy that my reporting raises additional questions: How did Ecuador spend its majority proceeds from oil exploitation? Why wasn’t this money spent on environmental controls? Why was the money not used to help those harmed by the drilling?

Make sure to read Barrett’s full article. You can find all of his very interesting Business Week/Bloomberg articles here.

Ecuador engages in “widespread repression of the media”; now they try to export the repression to our shores via a public relations firm.

The second item:

As you may recall, president Rafael Correa has come up with a fake currency to cover up a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion.

Correa claims there’s no plan to replace the dollar. Steve Hanke, who 14 years ago was the chief intellectual architect of the nation’s switch to the dollar, is skeptical,
Ecuador’s Dollarization Architect Doubts Correa’s Pledge

“What Correa’s trying to do is kind of loosen the straitjacket that dollarization has him in,” Hanke said. “If you go off, the fiscal deficit gets bigger, the level of debt gets bigger, inflation goes up and economic growth goes down. All the economic indicators just go south.”

Correa is expected to run for a fourth presidential term in 2017, having changed the law on presidential term limits.

Ketchum may be looking forward to it.

RELATED:
For Ecuador’s PR Firm, Celebrity Backing Carries Hefty Price Tag
MCSquared paid more than $500,000 for Mia Farrow, Danny Glover junkets

UPDATE,
Linked to by Bad Blue. Thanks!


Ecuador’s new fake currency

Monday, August 25th, 2014

And it’s not even bitcoin.

Mary O’Grady writes about Ecuador’s Phony Bitcoin Ploy
President Correa’s new ‘electronic currency’ will make it easier to engage in monetary devaluation.

This year Ecuador will run a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion, more than 9% of GDP. That’s what happens with budgeting that forecasts that oil prices will grow to the sky. It will be hard to shrink bloated state payrolls and subsidies, and the cost of servicing rising debt levels isn’t getting any cheaper.

To return this year to the international capital markets with a $2 billion 10-year bond, Ecuador had to pay a whopping 7.95% coupon. It also took out a $400 million three-year loan from Goldman Sachs against Ecuadorean gold to meet budget shortfalls. China holds $11 billion in Ecuadorean debt, not including billions of dollars in loans from Beijing secured by future oil shipments at an undisclosed price.

Now Mr. Correa is planning for when he runs out of other people’s money. The central bank says its new money will be a parallel currency backed up by dollars or the “equivalent” and used to pay its 500,000 bureaucrats in a “hygienic” manner. But if so, why not use dollars? In today’s world, there’s nothing special about transferring money electronically. Implying that this is a “virtual” currency is an attempt to lend Bitcoin-like cachet to what will essentially be IOUs issued by a country with a rather dodgy credit history.

And, if you think Ecuador may be a good place to retire, keep in mind that

Ecuadoreans are not free to speak against this threat to their earnings and savings. Mr. Correa is well known for using the judicial system and the army to threaten and silence his critics. Earlier this month he won the passage of a new law that makes it a crime—punishable by up to seven years in prison—to “publish, broadcast or spread” news that creates “economic panic.”

Panic indeed.

A “parallel currency backed up by dollars”? Don’t be the next Lord Crawley.