Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, who wants to dissolve his country’s Congress by an assembly with powers to rewrite the volatile nation’s constitution, a la Hugo, is knocking at our door asking for free trade:
Presidents Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia, are both running notoriously anti-American regimes. They have blasted the U.S. as a capitalist oppressor, and said their whole national mission is to slip its imperialist shackles. Needless to say, they’ve been no friend to the U.S. in the United Nations. Worse yet, they’ve forged alliances with some of America’s worst enemies, like Iran and Cuba. They’ve also grown increasingly slack and obstructive in even fighting the drug war that plagues the entire Andean region. Morales has increased coca production by 8%, keeping the street price of cocaine steady even as Colombia’s production falls 9%. Ecuador has emerged as a major drug transshipment point and money laundering center – something that is evident by its well-developed illegal immigrant smuggling routes to the U.S., which are the region’s best. Ecuador has announced “irrevocably” that it will shut down a tiny U.S. military base at Manta port that tracks drug planes, in order to kick out the U.S. imperialists.
But in exchange for fighting the war on drugs, they’ve both been recipients of large amounts of U.S. aid in 2006 – $120 million in Bolivia’s case and $500 million in Ecuador’s. Along with this aid, which is both humanitarian and technical, they both have preferential “ATPDEA” trading privileges to sell their goods duty-free in the U.S. without having to reciprocate the favor to American firms.
With a setup like that, they can, in practical terms, reject and obstruct the idea of real free trade, which would ask them to open their markets to U.S. competition, as long as they retain their current trade privileges. Thus, America’s generosity to them has provided a platform for them to condemn real free trade with impunity. But under the radar, they feverishly want a continuation of these one-way US trading privileges, which is why they’re suddenly telling America they never really meant it about the ‘imperialismo’ charges and all that as the expiration beckons.
Investor’s Business Daily has more:
Foreign Relations: Should the U.S. offer preferential trade privileges to hostile anti-American regimes that view them as cheap handouts? Offering nothing in return, Ecuador thinks so. We are less sure
The U.S. doesn’t ask much from Ecuador. Sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has only provided a tiny “forward operating base” at the port of Manta, with 300 U.S. troops conducting aerial surveillance to keep Colombia’s FARC Marxist narcoterrorists from bringing war to Ecuador as they have to their own country.
Instead of helping on that front, Ecuador now vows to shut down the Manta base and let the skies there go unpatrolled.
The Manta shutdown ends any rationale for APTDEA. So does Correa’s refusal to recognize the FARC as a terrorist organization or to chase its operatives from Ecuadorean soil.
Worse, Ecuador has harassed Colombia with lawsuits as it tries to eradicate coca fields, making Colombia’s war that much harder.
In other, “Gimme, gimme!” news, Castro Says U.S. Must Change Its Cuba Policy `Unilaterally’.
But, is he still wearing his jogging suit?