Archive for the ‘Rafael Correa’ Category

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.

Ecuador and the ‘straitjacket’

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Many of you approaching retirement age may have read multiple public relations articles touting Ecuador as A Top Retire-Overseas Choice. Among the reasons listed,

– Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar meaning no exchange-rate risk for American retirees.

If that’s a reason for your relocation, don’t get packing yet: Rafael Correa has other plans,
Ecuador Weighs Escape From Dollar ‘Straitjacket’

Congress has until the end of today to vote on President Rafael Correa’s proposal to change the South American nation’s financial laws, which would allow payments in “electronic money.” Lawmakers are debating whether to insist the central bank back the new currency with a one-to-one dollar guarantee.

As a current-account deficit drains dollars from the economy, making it harder for Correa to fund a burgeoning budget gap, a new currency could be used to meet government payments, said Jaime Carrera, a former deputy finance minister and director of the Quito-based Fiscal Policy Observatory. It could also lose its value quickly if not backed by the central bank, he said.

You may recall, seven years ago

Rafael Correa said Ecuador’s economy will remain dollarized during his four-year mandate

Of course that was before he changed the constitution to allow for his “indefinite re-election.”

Much water under the bridge and many debts later,

Correa, who calls the South American country’s use of the greenback an economic “straitjacket,” has already started paying some pension obligations in government bonds, which brokers are refusing to redeem at face value.

Additionally, Correa wants to issue electronic money without explicit public guarantees.

I can’t wait for him to turn to bitcoin.

Too bad Putin didn’t include Correa in the upcoming BRICS bank.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Ecuador: Selling gold

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Having defaulted “by choice” in the past, Correa continues to pave the way for issuing debt in the future:
Ecuador Sends Gold Bricks to Goldman Sachs in Liquidity Hunt

Ecuador agreed to transfer more than half its gold reserves to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for three years to give the government easier access to cash.

Money quote (emphasis added):

The deal comes as the South American country’s government, which defaulted on about $3.2 billion of bonds five years ago, seeks to cover a budget deficit forecast by the Finance Ministry to swell to a record $4.94 billion this year. President Rafael Correa said in April he also planned to sell about $700 million of foreign debt this year in the country’s first international bond sale since the 2008 and 2009 default.

Correa must be counting on enough suckers being born every minute.

Sing it!

Ecuador: Adiós, Security Cooperation Office

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Ecuador Expels Pentagon Group Attached to U.S. Embassy
Move Further Strains Relationship Between Correa, Obama Administrations

Ecuador has ordered 20 U.S. Defense Department employees attached to the U.S. Embassy in Quito to leave the country next week, U.S. officials confirmed, further straining an already rocky relationship between President Rafael Correa and the Obama administration.
. . .
In January, Mr. Correa had said that Pentagon workers were used to “infiltrate” Ecuador. The order ousting the Americans came days after Mr. Correa wrapped up a U.S. tour that included talks at Yale and Harvard universities and television interviews where he described himself as a “modern socialist” who wanted to improve relations with the U.S.

While the above article mentions that

Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas policy group in Washington, said the number of embassy officials Ecuador ordered to leave is noteworthy. “In the past, it has been limited to kicking out an attaché or a couple of officials but this is clearly designed to get attention,” Mr. Farnsworth said. “There will have to be a tit-for-tat retaliation. There will have to be some kind of response.”

the AP reporter says

As there is no accusation of espionage, U.S reciprocation is not anticipated.

Correa threw them out because there were ‘too many of them.’

A lack of response from the U.S. will signal further erosion of American influence in our hemisphere.

In other Ecuador news, Correa is refusing to accept more funding from USAID, since they are required to utilize the funds to promote gay marriage acceptance in the predominantly Catholic country.

Over in Germany, police have 265lb of cocaine hidden among crates of bananas in a container shipped from Ecuador – their second big seizure of the drug from South America this year.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!


Ecuador: Rafael Correa at Yale UPDATED

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Rafael Correa wants your money. Carlos Eire reports:

He demanded the “hegemonic” industrialized nations pay Ecuador and all other nations with rain forests for the oxygen produced by the trees in those forests. I let out a chuckle. Much to my surprise no one else laughed.

He also demanded that Ecuador be paid for all of the petroleum that he refuses to extract from its soil in order to keep the rain forest pristine. Not drilling for oil costs Ecuador billions of dollars, he complained. Some clapped enthusiastically.

And he demanded that the “hegemonic” industrialized nations pay fines to the non-industrialized nations as recompense for the air pollution caused by their industries and vehicles. More applause.

Even more applause greeted his proposal to abolish intellectual property and patents. No one should charge for what they invent, and perhaps not even for what they manufacture, he argued.

He called these proposals “a new distribution of labor” and railed against the present “world order” as unjust and “immoral.”

Maybe I ought to demand that Ecuador pay me for the oxygen produced by the trees in my yard, and for not fracking on my property, for the sakes of “a new distribution of labor” or something.

UPDATE:
The Five questions for President Correa that Dr. Eire was not allowed to ask.

4. Mr. President, it is common knowledge that Ecuador wants to return to international financial markets to borrow money again following its 2008 default. Yet you yourself have publicly attacked bond holders, calling them “true monsters.” Outside institutions tend to think that the rule of law and protection for investors is weak in Ecuador. So what is the case you make for investing in Ecuador today?

You can watch the whole lecture here (the YouTube starts right away) below the fold:

(more…)

Ecuador: Pass the Ketchum

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

In anticipation of the bonds-for-the-incurably-gullible issue, Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa has hired Ketchum:

Ketchum has inked a $35K-a-month contract with Ecuador’s Washington embassy, covering economic development, trade and tourism of the South American state of 14.5M people.

The contract became effective March 1 and runs through the year. It covers services such as ongoing strategic counsel, day-to-day campaign management, social media outreach, crisis PR, influencer outreach to think tanks/foundations, spokesperson trading and collaboration two white papers.

Ketchum created the “All you need is Ecuador” campaign, complete with a middle-age-sounding male voice reciting Beatles’ lyrics:

“All You Need”: A Tourism Campaign to Disguise Correa’s Strongman Rule
Will “Love” Be Enough to Overcome Negative International Press?

The government’s ad campaign sings a tune based on love, but Correa lays out a discourse founded on antagonism, while insulting his opponents and classifying all dissent as treason. What good is it to promote tourism to the outside world without first advancing the rule of law, our democracy, and the guarantee of individual liberty for Ecuadorians themselves?

In this context, the ad campaign appears to not only be geared towards boosting tourism, but also to countering the bad publicity the country has received during Correa’s tenure. There was little talk of Ecuador until the country began receivinginternational press recently, and not in a good way. Problems such as anauthoritatarian president, the persecution of media outlets, and support fortotalitarian regimes have demonstrated to the world an image of government that — far from “loving” — maintains control through fear.

While on the “loving” groove, Harvard to Host Correa, but No Free Press in Ecuador Can Cover It.


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 31st, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina Is Joined In The Supreme Court By The Coalition Of Weasels

Why Argentina Is Struggling to Find Lifelines

Argentina Moves to Trim Subsidies
Argentina will cut expensive natural-gas and water subsidies this year as it struggles with growing deficits that have been financed through inflation-fueling money printing.

BARBADOS
US Congress honours T&T and Barbados born judges

BOLIVIA
Bolivia clashes over anti-drugs base
Dozens of people in Bolivia clash with police in a protest against the construction of a military anti-drugs base in a coca-growing area

CHILE
Chile’s Codelco 2013 profit halves

COLOMBIA
Colombia current account deficit ends 2013 at 3.4 percent, “as lower prices for some key exports contributed to the near halving of the Andean nation’s trade surplus.”

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica’s two top political parties agree to runoff presidential debate, with or without candidates

In lieu of a candidate to support, PLN lawmaker Luis Villanueva said the campaign was about “ideas, programs and the emphasis” of each party.

CUBA
Azuuuucar !!! Chong Chon Gang returns for another load

Ukraine Angle to Cuba’s “Purchase” of Russian Antonov Planes

Tread carefully in Cuba’s ‘open’ economy: Experts

ECUADOR
Ecuador President Rafael Correa to Speak at Harvard
Has been criticized for anti-American rhetoric, crackdown on press freedoms

Correa has long pursued a multi-billion dollar judgment against oil company Chevron for alleged pollution that occurred in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region. A U.S. federal judge ruled earlier this month that the judgment could not be enforced in America because the plaintiffs’ attorneys bribed a judge in Ecuador, ghostwrote purportedly neutral scientific studies, and conspired to break the law.

Correa in December dissolved a nongovernment organization protesting state oil drilling in the Amazon. He previously called the Free Beacon“corrupt” for reporting on the Chevron case.

Correa has also emulated Chavez by frequently decrying the alleged “imperial” influence of the United States in Latin America. He has expelled an American ambassador, shut down a joint U.S. anti-drug base, and grantedasylum to WikiLeaks founder and privacy advocate Julian Assange despiteallegations that Correa’s government has spied on reporters.

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador opposition admits defeat
El Salvador’s Arena party finally accepts the defeat of its candidate to former rebel leader Salvador Sanchez Ceren in a tight vote earlier this month.

JAMAICA
The Petrocaribe Trap

LATIN AMERICA
Life after the commodity boom
Instead of the crises of the past, mediocre growth is the big risk—unless productivity rises

As Obama Dismisses Russia As “Regional,” It Expands Its Reach

Latin Leftists with Blood on Their Hands

MEXICO
Stranded: In One Week Authorities Found 370 Abandoned Immigrant Children Wandering Around In Mexico

Mexico Intercepts 63 Guatemalans Headed for U.S.

OIL
Here Comes $75 Oil
Lower energy costs will have a salutary effect on the U.S. economy. Not so Russia, where oil provides 50% of government income.

PANAMA
Crimea: The Panama precedent

PARAGUAY
Cocaine Distribution Hub Dismantled in Paraguay

PERU
Peru Received $2.7 Billion in Remittances During 2013

PUERTO RICO
Census Reveals Population Drop Across Puerto Rico by 3%

URUGUAY
Uruguay To Track Pot By Genetic Markers

VENEZUELA
The Obama Administration seems indifferent to the crisis in Venezuela. Why?

US Senator Menendez Calls for International Condemnation of Venezuela

Lawsuit filed in Miami accuses Venezuela top official, Diosdado Cabello, of bribery
A lawsuit filed in Miami accuses the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly of receiving at least $50 million in bribes from a company doing business in that country.

Venezuelan government takes on crossword writers in protest crackdown
After expelling an opposition parliamentarian and arresting three air-force generals, the Venezuelan government has now taken aim at a new enemy: crosswords

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: How Hugo Chávez turned the country over to Cuba

Brazil: We shall soon be hearing about the “excellent healthcare”

Venezuela: more censorship, in “one of the most democratic nations on Earth”

#ThanksLarry: In praise of Larry Kudlow

The Isaías, on @Instapundit’s post

#SOSVenezuela: Marco Rubio’s speech

Mexico: Navigators helping people sign up for Obamacare regardless of citizenship

Mexico’s Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies

Venezuela: Slingshots vs tanks

En español: Terapia intensiva #201

Venezuela: Leopoldo López, Hun School alumnus

Uruguay: Gitmo releases will be free to leave

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
No, Joe, illegals are not citizens

Book review – Eyes On Target: Inside Stories from the Brotherhood of the U.S. Navy SEALs

The Goodbye, Columbus Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 10th, 2014

LatinAmerWhile more important stories were in the headlines, Cristina Fernandez took the cake by attempting to remove all traces of Christopher Columbus from the royal palace executive mansion, no matter that Columbus never set foot in the Country, and the Italian-born navigator shared a native land with millions of Argentinians.

ARGENTINA
Ted Turner Hospitalized In Argentina For Undisclosed Ailment
A security guard at the Instituto Argentino de Diagnostico y Tratamiento confirmed to The Associated Press that Turner was hospitalized there.

Pope Francis: the priest of the slums
Peter Stanford, author and former editor of the Catholic Herald, retraces the trip Pope Francis used to take to the outskirts of Buenos Aires to try to understand the man who was known as ‘the priest of the slums’

BOLIVIA
Footbridge collapses at Bolivian parade killing at least four people
Three musicians among the dead as an overloaded metal footbridge collapses during the opening parade of carnival in highlands city of Oruro

BRAZIL
Dilma Rou$$eff

Fresh deal to end Rio rubbish strike
Rio de Janeiro officials and street cleaners say they have reached a deal to end a strike which has left litter piling up in the Brazilian city.

CHILE
Chicago Latino Film Festival to honor Chilean actress Paulina Garcia
The Chicago Latino Film Festival will confer its career-achievement award on Chilean theater, film and television actress Paulina Garcia, organizers said.

Incoming Chilean Finance Minister Promises to Boost Investments
Alberto Areas Says New Bachelet Administration Will Take Over Slowing Economy
: expect more government spending, more debt.

COSTA RICA
Governing Party Candidate Pulls Out of Costa Rica’s Presidential Campaign
Sinking in the polls a month before Costa Rica’s presidential election, Johnny Araya, the candidate for the country’s governing party, pulled out of the campaign on Wednesday

CUBA
At least 8 new political prisoners in Cuba in February

French Banks Investigated for Sanctions Violations

ECUADOR
TWO Capt. Louis Renault moments:
1. Presidente plantea enmienda constitucional sin que se llame a referéndum

2. Ecuadoran President Correa Blasts NY Fed Judge’s Ruling for Chevron

EL SALVADOR
Leftist party ahead in El Salvador polls
Elections in El Salvador will decide whether the incumbent leftist government will gain a mandate for another five years. The winning party must tackle gang violence and address the country’s economic problems.

LATIN AMERICA
The Economist: iPhonenomics
One phone, many countries
Costly Brazil, dysfunctional Argentina, bureaucratic Mexico. Our correspondents go shopping for the same Apple product

MEXICO
Court Setback for Mexican Drug Kingpin
A Mexican judge has denied the drug kingpin Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán Loera an injunction against any extradition to the United States.

Andres Oppenheimer: Mexico’s new friend: Castro’s Cuba

If Peña Nieto wanted to keep Cuba and Venezuela from firing up Mexico’s left, he could have done the same with polite diplomacy, without the need to praise as a “moral leader” a dictator who is responsible for thousands of deaths and has not allowed a free election in five decades. In an effort to distance himself from his predecessors, Peña Nieto has gone overboard.

ANALYSIS: FORMER MEXICAN CARTEL LEADER KILLED AGAIN

NICARAGUA
Busted in Nicaragua: ex-Rep. David Rivera’s pal, Ana Alliegro, in FBI custody over campaign scheme

PANAMA
Panama demands Venezuela pay $1bn debt
President Martinelli asks Caracas not to use decision to cut diplomatic ties with Panama as “excuse” to not pay debt.

PARAGUAY
’7 Boxes’ review: fast-paced thriller from Paraguay

PERU
Peru to ‘eliminate’ key environmental rule for oil and gas firms, says minister
Announcement that seismic tests won’t need Environmental Impact Assessments sparks controversy and concern

PUERTO RICO
Felix Salmon on Why Puerto Rico’s bonds are moving to New York: it all comes down to default protection for the bondholders.

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan president to visit Iran next month

La libertad en las calles
PIEDRA DE TOQUE. Venezuela ya no es un país democrático y la gran movilización popular es para que haya todavía elecciones de verdad en ese país y no rituales operaciones circenses como son las de Cuba

Scenes from Venezuela, 3/8/14 #8M #SOSVenezuela

Venezuela’s Opposition Is United Against Maduro, But Internally Divided

A Growing Crisis in Post-Chavez Venezuela

Los Guayabitos: The Venezuelan town where La Revolución reigns supreme

Venezuelan Crisis Plays Out On The Floor Of The United Nations

Large Protests Continue As Venezuelan Government Celebrates OAS Victory

Late Friday in Washington, the Organization of American States approved a declaration that rejected violence and called for justice for the 21 people the government says have died in weeks of street protests. The resolution also offered “full support” for the Venezuelan government’s peace initiative, in which the opposition has so far refused to participate.

The week’s posts:
Don Mario se quita los guantes y le cae encima al fascista Maduro: En español: Vargas Llosa a puño limpio

Argentina: Goodbye, Columbus

Colombia: Congressional elections tomorrow

Marco Rubio at #CPAC2014: “America must be involved in leading the world”

Argentina: Still in the hole for $185 million

Venezuela: Waiting to buy food

Cuba: Mario Díaz-Balart explains to the dense why Cuban oppression is bad

Venezuela: Door-to-door raids, AWOL colonels, Panama out

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez is still dead

Ecuador: Donziger guilty of fraud against Chevron

En español: Terapia intensiva

BREAKING NEWS Ecuador: Chevron wins

Venezuela: Big shoes and misreports

At Da Tech Guy:
Marco Rubio at #CPAC2014: “America must be involved in leading the world”

Ecuador: Donziger guilty of fraud against Chevron

Ecuador, Iran, Syria: The new axis?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Lachlan Markay writes in the Washington Free Beacon on The Correa-Khamenei Axis
Ecuador pumping up its relationship with Iran and Syria, experts say

Correa, who began his third term as president on Friday, reaffirmed Ecuador’s alliance with Iran.

“We would ratify it a thousand times over,” Correa said of the alliance during his inaugural address, according to a translation of the speech.

Iran’s vice president for international affairs, who attended the inauguration in an official capacity, said the two countries “have elite people and revolutionary governments and we are happy that the ‘Citizens’ Revolution’ — the slogan of Ecuador’s president — can live on,” according to a report from Iranian state-owned media.

Correa also expressed support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which also sent an envoy — its former ambassador to Venezuela — to Correa’s inauguration, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.

Iran’s relationship with Ecuador appears to be mirroring its arrangement with Venezuela, according to Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, who has called Ecuador “one of Iran’s largest money-laundering hubs in Latin America.”

As you may recall, The Ecuadorian Finance Co., Inc. (COFIEC), a bank that was seized a decade ago by the former Deposit Guarantee Agency (AGD) would be the legal vehicle used by the Ecuadorian state to conduct financial transactions with Iran. The purpose is to help Iran evade sanctions.

Additionally, two years ago, Deutsche Welle was reporting that Ecuador had become the new hub for international crime.