Ecuador Suspends Participation in UNASUR, To Formally Withdraw

The organization, meant to integrate South American countries as a counter to U.S. hegemony, has five remaning members.

In a letter addressed to the Secretariat of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) Pro Tempore Monday the Ecuadorean government formalized the decision to suspend its participation and withdraw from the Constitutional Treaty of Unasur thereby leaving the bloc.

RELATED Duque: Colombia Will Create Prosur To Replace Unasur

"Ecuador will stop participating in all activities and commitments of the organization and initiate internal procedures for the retraction of the treaty," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, Jose Valencia, to his Bolivian counterpart, Diego Pary, whose country is in charge of the Pro Tempore Secretariat.

The government of Lenin Moreno is now the second to formalize its abandonment of the treaty, joining Colombian President Ivan Duque, who on Aug, 27, 2018 made a similar decision. Since April 2018, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru suspended their participation, leaving Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and Uruguay as active members.

The decision comes six months after the Ecuadorean foreign minister publicly ruled out that his country would leave the organization during a press conference where, instead announcing withdrawal from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, the Trade Treaty of the American Peoples (ALBA-TCP).

Former President Rafael Correa, expressed via Twitter that this decision is "a death sentence for the organization." This possible dissolution occurs at a time of ascension for right-wing governments in the region, with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera proposing a new regional bloc called Prosur.

However, Ecuador’s withdrawal will not be immediate. According to article 24 of the Constitutional Treaty of Unasur, the pullout will take effect after six months from the date the notification was received by the body. The Ecuadorean constitution of 2008 itself states that leaving international treaties are required to pass through the countyr’s National Assembly.

Once the retreat becomes official, it’s headquarters, located in Quito, and whose property was donated by the government of Rafael Correa, will return to state hands, leaving the body without any building. In July 2018, Lenin Moreno announced his plans for the building, where he hopes to create an intercultural university.

Unasur has promoted regional integration since its creation in Brasilia on May 23, 2008, under the leadership of the Bolivarian revolutionary, Hugo Chávez.

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Former Ecuadorean Leader Rips Current Administration As 'Toxic'

Ecuador is making right-ward movements, looking for IMF loans, that could mean impending hardship for the Ecuadorean people.

Former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa denounces the current administration of Lenin Moreno as “toxic” and warns that he’ll return to Ecuador if required to run as member of the National Assembly or as a vice-presidential candidate.

RELATED Ecuador: IMF Loan Yet to Be Granted, Austerity Measures a Condition for Agreement

The former head of state currently lives in Belgium and hosts his own online program called Enlace Digital in which he makes commententary on world issues and Ecuadorean politics. His 9th show was dedicated to what he calls the “betrayal” of the Moreno government and its failure in avoiding “elite control of the country for the next 30 years” as Ecuador moves further toward embracing the neoliberal policies that culminated in its economic collapse of 1998-1999.

He appealed to the "people to take out the government which has only betrayed them" calling on the current president to issues a "muerte cruzada," a term referring to the power of the executive to dissolve the government and call for new elections.

On Feb. 20, Ecuador’s General Secretary of Communications issued a statement, signed by President Lenin Moreno, confirming the signing of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for USD$4.2 billion.

Social groups fear this means the beginning of the Moreno government’s move towards damaging neoliberal reforms. The agreement signed by the IMF was a “Staff Level Agreement,” which means that the USD$4.2 billion loan will only be granted to cash-strapped Ecuador if it complies with certain conditions first.

These conditions are likely to mean austerity for the Ecuadorean people, however no announcements have been made thus far on what these measures will look like. The relative experience of other Latin American countries, like Argentina, provides a hint at what may occur.

Argentine social movements have called attention to the fact that the recent IMF bailout agreed to in their country has, in fact, worsened the economic situation. Several demonstrations have already happened in Argentina to protest the IMF-backed austerity economic measures implemented by the government of President Mauricio Macri.

The inflation rate for Argentina from January 2019 vs January 2018 was at 49% making life extremely difficult for poor and middle class Argentines.

Despite these warnings, Ecuador is moving forward with these agreements.

Correa was president of Ecuador from 2007 to 2017 and was responsible for the country’s “pink tide” movement to left-wing policies which saw poverty decrease by 14% and an annual GDP growth of 1.5%.

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Ecuador expels Venezuelan ambassador after minister in Caracas called Moreno a ‘liar’

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister has ordered Venezuelan Ambassador Carol Delgado to leave the country over ‘offensive statements’ made by the country’s communication minister about Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno.

The Venezuelan minister Jorge Rodríguez on Wednesday accused the Ecuadorean president of inflating the number of refugees arriving across the border from Venezuela. Quito said it “will not tolerate any sign of disrespect to its authorities” when announcing the expulsion of the diplomat. The statement published by Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry said the country will continue to provide aid to Venezuelan refugees and added that its own chargé d’affaires will be recalled from Caracas for consultations.

This appears to be the Rodriguez statement attacking Lenin Moreno that caused to expel the Venezuelan ambassador in Quito.

Ministro de Comunicación venezolano, Jorge Rodríguez, llama "mentiroso" al Presidente de Ecuador , y afirma que las cifras de migrantes venezolanos están "infladas".

Rodríguez called Moreno a liar over his statements that each day 6,000 Venezuelans were arriving in Ecuador, fleeing form the economic crisis in their country. The Venezuelan minister argued it was logistically impossible.

 
© Global Look Press / imago stock&people 

“He is a liar, and dares to lie on the podium of the United Nations because that was what he was ordered to do to boost this hoax,” Rodríguez told a media conference, referring to Moreno’s speech before the UN General Assembly last month.

The Ecuadorean president at the time called the refugee crisis “the largest exodus” in Latin America’s history and called on other nations to respond to it in solidarity with each other.

The Venezuelan official claimed that most of the refugees living in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina were “fed up with hate crimes” they face there and want to return to their home country.

An estimated two million people have left Venezuela since 2015, when the country plunged into economic and political problems, which are aggravated by a mounting burden of economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

Ecuador used to be a close ally of Venezuela, with both pursuing a socialist model of development. Moreno, who took office last year, has been distancing Quito from socialism and seeking closer cooperation with Washington and its regional allies.

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Ecuador Rejects Reports on Assange but It Admits New Protocol

Ecuador on Wednesday rejected reports about pressure from UN officials on the government, regarding the situation of Julian Assange, but it accepted to implement a new Special Protocol to maintain his asylum status.

'The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador rejects with indignation such stories and underlines that the president of the Republic did not even discuss the issue of Mr. Assange's asylum with the United Nations high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, or with the United Nations special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, David Kaye,' an official statement said.

According to the press release, the fake reports aim to maintain that UN officials pressured Ecuador to make the decision to issue a Special Protocol with regulations on the minimum conditions of the asylum seeker's stay at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

In the document, the Ministry explained that the UN and UNHCR representatives in Ecuador, who participated in the meetings, corroborated in statements to the media that the issue was not dealt with in any of the gatherings.

It also added that according to the specifications of Filippo Grandi, the founder of WikiLeaks, the portal published thousands of classified documents from several countries, mainly the United States, is not a refugee, but an asylum seeker in a diplomatic mission and therefore, the issue is outside the jurisdiction of its organization.

After insisting that the information published by digital media 'shamelessly' tried to note the pressure exerted on the national government, the Foreign Ministry concluded: 'Nothing further from the truth: Ecuador is a sovereign State, which takes its foreign policy decisions with autonomy and looking only at the defense of its national interests, with strict adherence to international law.'

The official statement was issued in response to news published by several sites that mentioned a 10-page Special Protocol, with indications on the payment of food, laundry and medical care (which will also be strictly regulated), visiting regime and the use of communications, which Assange must comply with, in order to maintain his condition as asylum seeker.

Ecuador Rejects Reports on Assange but It Admits New Protocol

Ecuador on Wednesday rejected reports about pressure from UN officials on the government, regarding the situation of Julian Assange, but it accepted to implement a new Special Protocol to maintain his asylum status.

'The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador rejects with indignation such stories and underlines that the president of the Republic did not even discuss the issue of Mr. Assange's asylum with the United Nations high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, or with the United Nations special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, David Kaye,' an official statement said.

According to the press release, the fake reports aim to maintain that UN officials pressured Ecuador to make the decision to issue a Special Protocol with regulations on the minimum conditions of the asylum seeker's stay at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

In the document, the Ministry explained that the UN and UNHCR representatives in Ecuador, who participated in the meetings, corroborated in statements to the media that the issue was not dealt with in any of the gatherings.

It also added that according to the specifications of Filippo Grandi, the founder of WikiLeaks, the portal published thousands of classified documents from several countries, mainly the United States, is not a refugee, but an asylum seeker in a diplomatic mission and therefore, the issue is outside the jurisdiction of its organization.

After insisting that the information published by digital media 'shamelessly' tried to note the pressure exerted on the national government, the Foreign Ministry concluded: 'Nothing further from the truth: Ecuador is a sovereign State, which takes its foreign policy decisions with autonomy and looking only at the defense of its national interests, with strict adherence to international law.'

The official statement was issued in response to news published by several sites that mentioned a 10-page Special Protocol, with indications on the payment of food, laundry and medical care (which will also be strictly regulated), visiting regime and the use of communications, which Assange must comply with, in order to maintain his condition as asylum seeker.

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Ecuador To Partly Restore Internet Access For Julian Assange

London: The Ecuadorian government will partially restore communications for Julian Assange at the country's embassy in London, Wikileaks said.

The Wikileaks founder, who has been holed up at the embassy since 2012, was stopped from using the internet or a mobile phone to communicate with the outside world in March.

"Ecuador has told WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that it will remove the isolation regime imposed on him following meetings between two senior UN officials and Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno on Friday," Wikileaks said in a statement on Sunday.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks editor in chief, described the move as "positive" but said it is "of grave concern that his freedom to express his opinions is still limited".

The decision to cut off Assange's communications was taken because the Australian had broken a 2017 promise to not interfere in other countries' affairs while in the mission, the Ecuadorian government said at the time. 

It came days after he used Twitter to challenge Britain's accusation that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian former double agent in the English city of Salisbury. 

He also attacked the arrest in Germany of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont under an EU warrant issued by Spain over Puigdemont's failed bid last year to declare independence for his Spanish region. 

Ecuador installed a jammer to prevent him from accessing email and restricted the number of visitors he can receive.

Assange took refuge in the diplomatic mission in 2012 after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault there.

Assange claims the accusations were politically motivated and could lead to him being extradited to the United States to face imprisonment over WikiLeaks' publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

Sweden dropped its investigation last year, but British authorities say they still want to arrest him for breaching his bail conditions.

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Ecuador gets UN praise for ‘freedom of expression’ as Assange remains gagged in embassy limbo

A UN official praised Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno for his treatment of journalists despite the fact that the leader is said to be preparing to hand over WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to the governments persecuting him.

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye commended Ecuador and Moreno for supposedly promoting freedom of speech – the same Moreno that recently cut off communications to fugitive whistleblower Julian Assange and has been mulling handing him over to the UK and the US to be tried as a spy.

Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, was granted political asylum by Moreno’s predecessor Rafael Correa in 2012 and became an Ecuadorian citizen in December 2017. In order to hand Assange over, Moreno would have to strip him of that citizenship first, as Ecuador’s extradition treaty with the UK precludes turning over its own citizens.

 
Moreno’s government invited Kaye to meet Ecuadorian authorities, journalists, academics, and civil society groups during a recent visit. The UN official was briefed on “ongoing legal and policy changes” instituted by Moreno, who has taken a hard right turn from the government of his predecessor Correa, most notably in resuming military cooperation with the US.

Kaye’s fulsome praise for the Moreno government rang especially hollow where he discussed whistleblowing and the internet: “He also urged strong promotion for independent journalism and the safety of journalists […] including by developing strong whistleblower protections for both public officials and private employees; and several steps to improve the rights people in Ecuador enjoy online.”

Assange is famous for developing WikiLeaks as a secure, anonymous platform for whistleblowers. His supporters were outraged when Moreno revoked his internet access earlier this year, leaving him completely cut off from the outside world. Moreno has maintained that he will respect Assange’s asylum as long as the journalist doesn’t engage in “political activity,” but he remains incommunicado despite this promise.

By inviting Kaye to visit Ecuador, Moreno may hope to preempt some of the international outrage that would result from sending an Ecuadorian citizen off to possibly spend decades in prison for doing journalistic work. Assange, after all, merely published information that he was given by whistleblowers, as journalists have for hundreds of years. Such acts are protected by US and UK law. But since some of that information concerned the shady conduct of American diplomats, military, and spies, Washington treats Assange as an enemy of the state. And once the UK has custody of Assange, it is assumed he will be transferred to the US.

Assange's last video before communications cut at Ecuadorian Embassy in London (FULL)

Assange is not the only Ecuadorian who Moreno has betrayed. Correa himself, who gave Moreno his blessing as his successor, was forced to flee to Belgium earlier this year after what he claims was a politically motivated prosecution for the alleged 2012 kidnapping of a political opponent. Correa turned on his protege after Moreno proposed a constitutional referendum that would have barred Correa from running for office again, and Moreno – whom he now calls a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” – has since overturned many of his predecessor’s reforms.

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Ecuador: Correa Accuses Gov’t of US Pact After Chevron Ruling

Lenin Moreno's government said the state is obliged to reverse a Constitutional Court ruling stating Chevron should pay for environmental damages.

Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa has accused the government of past ally Lenin Moreno of “doing homework ordered by (the United States Vice President Mike) Pence” after Ecuador’s Solicitor General, Iñigo Salvador, said the country would have to pay economic reparations to oil giant Chevron, a company local courts ruled should pay US$9.5 billion for social and environmental damages.

ANALYSIS: 'Self-Sabotage:' Ecuador Embraces Neoliberal Reform and US Interests 

“How well are they doing homework ordered by Pence! Julian Assange, International Monetary Fund austerity, a boycott of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), exit form ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), a ‘security’ office with spy planes and Chevron. And it will continue. They want to be outstanding students,” Correa tweeted Friday.

Pablo Fajardo, a lawyer for the communities affected by Chevron's actions, has also asked the Moreno government to answer similar accusations. 

In 2006, Chevron sued Ecuador for violating a bilateral investment treaty with the U.S., which was signed in 1997, to avoid liability for environmental damage caused in an area where Texaco operated for three decades. However, the bilateral investment treaty was signed years after Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, finished its extractive operations in the country.

Ecuador’s former defense team argued the investment treaty couldn't be applied retroactively and spent years defending itself and supporting the people affected by Chevron-Texaco. Correa government also led an international campaign known as the "Dirty Hand of Chevron" that aimed to raise public awareness of the environmental disaster Texaco left behind and mount pressure for a cleanup.

RELATED: Ecuador's Constitutional Court Rules Against Chevron, in Favor of Indigenous Communities

The ruling by the Permanent Arbitration Court in the Hague, Netherlands, announced by Salvador was not unusual. As Pablo Fajardo explained: “ the system of international arbitration is designed to protect corporations.”

What stirred controversy was the Ecuadorean government’s response to the court’s ruling. Salvador not only said the country will have to pay Chevron without announcing any actions against the ruling but also announced the state had the responsibility to nullify the US$9.5 billion ruling against Chevron and in favor of the affected communities, ratified earlier this year by the Constitutional Court, Ecuador highest court, which was suspended a week prior to the Chevron announcement.

The Ecuadorean government has also accepted an ordered to nullify a Constitutional Court ruling when there is no Constitutional Court to challenge the executive's power.

Criticism of the government’s “passive” reaction was not limited to opposition groups and Correa supporters. Several ministers within Moreno’s cabinet and state institutions have issued statements in support of the Constitutional Court ruling and urging the state to continue defending the “national interest.”

Moreno’s education minister Fander Falconi said via Twitter: “Chevron’s grave harm against our people and ecosystem are obvious… We must condemn the ruling and those responsible, its contents threaten the right of the people of the Amazon.”

Moreno’s former minister of the environment Tarsicio Granizo said: “I think a campaign by the state against the ruling of The Hague is necessary to show the world the harm Chevron caused to the Amazon and its people.”

The Defensoria del Pueblo, or Office of the Ombudsman, urged the “national government to seek a solution that prioritizes the right of communities in the Amazon to integral reparations and restoration of nature.”

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Ecuador: Guayaquil to Host 4th International Book Fair

Quito, Sep 4 (Prensa Latina) The Ecuadorian coastal city of Guayaquil will host the 4th International Book Fair, scheduled from September 5 to 9 at the Convention Center.

With Spain as the guest country, the event will be attended by six Spanish authors: Javier Sierra, Juan Manuel de Prada, Javier Moro, Elena Medel, Maria Elvira Roca Barea, Miguel Gane and Nerea Perez de las Heras, who will present their books and will participate in colloquiums.

More than 600 titles from major publishing houses and a selection from the publication service of Spanish Cooperation will be available at Spain's stand.

The fair will also be attended by the authors Carmen Boullosa and Julian Herbet (Mexico), Ariana Harwicz and Rocardo Liniers Siri (Argentina), Giuseppe Caputo (Colombia), Frank Baez (Dominican Republic) and Alberto Montt (Chile-Ecuador).

According to organizers, the main objective of the fair is to promote reading as a practice to train the personality and citizenship of Guayaquil residents, as well as attracting new regular readers.

In addition to the commercial fair, those visiting the Convention Center of Guayaquil will enjoy literary zones, areas for children and youths, contests and other activities.

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