Ecuador: Chevron, Fraud, Julian Assange, And Still No Friend to the U.S.
As many long time readers here know I’ve been writing about the Chevron Ecuador case for many years now, going back to 2008, a couple recent examples can be found here and here. So when Ecuador President Rafael Correa granted asylum to Julian Assange, it was just the latest in a string of actions meant to defy the United States. Through its treatment of U.S. companies and disregard for international law, to its crackdown on the press and increasingly close ties with Iran, the Correa administration has a history of showing disdain for the U.S. and now, its allies. Ecuador:
Here are the facts:
- Right now, Ecuador is the only country left in the Andean Trade Preferences Act.
- In June, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual report, in which it raised “concerns about the government’s long-term commitment to international arbitration for the settlement of investor disputes.”
- Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote the US Trade Representative raising serious concerns about Ecuador’s willful neglect of international arbitration awards and how this violates the terms of the ATPA.
- On July 31, 2012, Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) and Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) introduced a bipartisan resolution “condemning the conditions of democracy and human rights in Ecuador and expressing concern over Ecuador’s business and security practices.” According to the release, the legislation “represents Congress’ resistance to renew the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA).”
- At a hearing on July 31 of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on business in Latin America, Senators on both sides of the aisle criticized the Ecuadorian government’s refusal to honor international arbitration awards and noted how this should endanger their status under ATPA.
- Leading business and pro-trade groups – US Chamber, NAM, ECAT, USCIB – have all urged the US to remove Ecuador’s trade benefits given their refusal to abide by international arbitration rulings in the Chevron case, among numerous other actions, which is a key criteria for eligibility for these trade privileges.
Ties with Iran, China
- Ecuador is becoming a key Latin-American ally of Iran as President Rafael Correa has enthusiastically embraced Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a diplomatic friend.
- In early 2012, Ahmadinejad traveled to Ecuador to strengthen bilateral cooperation. The two countries have also already signed 32 agreements to strengthen cooperation in areas like renewable resources, technology, and health.
- Then in July, the government of Ecuador pledged to buy $400 million of Iranian fuel, defying US and European sanctions on Iran as it pursues nuclear capabilities.
- In July, Ecuador entered into talks with China National Petroleum Corp. over a potential investment in a refinery project. Essentially, China is looking to heavily invest in Ecuadorian crude oil assets and finance development.
Crackdown on Media
- Just since May, Correa’s administration has shut down 11 radio broadcasters. Since the beginning of 2012, a total of 17 media outlets have been shut down.
- Also, earlier this year an Ecuadorian court settled Correa’s libel lawsuit against three owners of the newspaper El Universo, by handing down hefty fines and three-year prison terms. Correa eventually forgave the sentences, but the message was clear: the media better watch its step.
- Correa has exerted numerous controls over the media, like instructing government officials not to give interviews to private media entities, and making it illegal to directly or indirectly promote a political candidate within 90 days of the election.
Chevron Lawsuit and Disregard for International Law
- When an international arbitration panel at the Hague ordered Ecuador to take “all means necessary” to stop enforcement of the multibillion-dollar judgment against Chevron, Correa simply ignored and denounced the ruling.
- At home, the lawsuit against Chevron led by U.S. trial lawyers has been rife with fraud and political interference by corrupt Ecuadoran government and court officials. At least 8 U.S. federal judges have used the term “fraud” when describing the actions of the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
It’s high time that the United States take serious action against Ecuador and it’s clear disdain for American and international policies as well as its overt anti-Americanism. With President Rafael Correa at the helm Ecuador is no friend to the US.