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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'Assange's days in Ecuadorian Embassy in London are numbered' – Correa to RT

The days of Julian Assange’s residence in the Ecuadorian embassy in London are numbered, the country’s former president Rafael Correa, who was still at the helm when he offered the WikiLeaks founder asylum, has told RT.

Correa’s remarks came amid speculation that his successor, Lenin Moreno, may soon kick Assange out, probably to be arrested by British authorities. According to Assange himself, this would lead to the unsealing of a secret US indictment against him and his extradition to America.

Moreno this week said that, sooner or later, the whistleblower will have to leave the diplomatic mission. However, Ecuador wants to make sure that nothing “poses danger” to the whistleblower's life, the president stressed.
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FILE PHOTO: The Ecadorian embassy in central London © Toby Melville Assange will eventually have to leave our embassy in London – Ecuador President

“You can be sure that he [Moreno] is a hypocrite. He already has an agreement with the US about what will happen to Assange. And now he's just trying to sweeten the pill by saying he's going to have a dialogue” about conditions of the transfer, Correa told RT Spanish. “I'm afraid ... that Assange's days in our embassy are numbered.”

Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, has made no secret that Assange’s refuge was a nuisance for his government, which he inherited from Correa. The Australian has been living at the compound since 2012 and has lately been barred by his Ecuadorean hosts from any communications.

Accusing the incumbent Ecuadorian president of “reducing [Assange] to a hacker who snooped in private emails,” Correa pointed out that Moreno cannot grasp the complexity of Assange's role in exposing human rights abuses by the US government, or the harsh punishment the 47-year-old will face if extradited to the US.

Correa, who now hosts a show on RT’s Spanish service, noted that unless Assange secures safe passage guarantees, he is likely to be prosecuted for espionage and treason “which may carry the death penalty.” While Moreno said on Friday that he is trying to negotiate Assange's security guarantees, Correa believes that the activist’s fate has already been sealed.

“[Moreno] talks about a dialogue, but everything has already been agreed with the UK government, especially after Vice President Pence's visit to Ecuador a few weeks ago,” Correa said.

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Rafael Correa and the Ecuadorian Injustice

Just as they have done with Lula in Brazil, Rafael Correa is being victim of the political persecution in a judicial path to terminate him in many ways. They have come at him so hard that I dared say it holds personal grudge at different levels.

For Correa "the strategy towards me is to kill me, put me in jail or prevent my return to Ecuador. We must stop the judicialization of politics. Let them try defeating us at the polls, not with their tricks!", said the former Ecuadorian president.

The order of imprisonment without bail was passed against him by judge Daniella Camacho who accused him for the alleged kidnapping of former legislator Fernando Baltra, that took place in 2012, but the controller assigned as well as the attorney that pursues him was finger picked, without proceedings, which is illegal, but that doesn’t matter, because the question was, or rather is, to put him in jail.

The order of imprisonment without bail was passed after the former leader didn’t show up at the headquarters of the National Court of Justice in Quito, but he did show up in the Consulate of Ecuador in Belgium, where he lives with his family for a year. Besides the detention order, the judge accepted the request of the Attorney’s Office of asking Interpol his arrest and extradition.

Commenting the case Balda’s kidnapping, Correa denounced that it’s a "huge ridicule with no perspective of success at all in the international arena". “Balda was at large from the Ecuadorian Justice" and “he was running illegal actions in Colombia", and he highlighted that “it’s clear that it was a police abuse". “A few policemen tried to arrest him and saw that with false testimonies could involve the very President of the Republic", he denounced.

“They know I live in Belgium. The District Attorney asked me to show up in the Consulate of Belgium every 15 days, but the judge establishes that I must show up every 15 days in Ecuador knowing that it’s impossible", says the former leader.

“There is no evidence, not a hint against me", emphasizes Correa while he brands the detention order as "an absolutely illegal mechanism that would be impossible in any country". "But the world looks the other way. If this had happened during my government with a political opponent, I would already be in the International Court of The Hague", he highlighted.

PLOT

Ten years of Civic Revolution in which great social achievements and a decrease of the poverty were part of an honest policy that made more equal the sharing of wealth. It was really a thorn on the side for the national oligarchy, while imperialism saw with concern the style of government of a leader who did not work for his interests.

That’s why is annoying to think how the current leader, Lenin Moreno who was always supported by Correa, has acted according to the enemies of the former President and obeyed rules that jeopardize the achievements of previous administration, nothing clear and that seems moved by desires of vengeance, I don't know the reasons why.

Undoubtedly, this action against Correa is part of the imperialistic task of coapt justice to pursue left-wing leaders.

At regional level, the case against Correa is not the only one, because there are the results of accusations against former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, the former Argentinean president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the Ecuadorian vice-president Jorge Glas. Let’s remember that the former President of Ecuador had already been accused fruitlessly of wrong oil pre-sales, wrongfully negotiated contracts in that field, organized crime, traffic of influences, and everything in the last months, because they saw the strategy of judicializing politics.

All this has contributed to the boost of the right-wing in South America and the breaking of an institutionality that is essential for a good life.

Meanwhile, several personalities and world leaders have already expressed their solidarity with former Ecuadorian leader. Bolivian President, Evo Morales has criticized the "politicization of the Ecuadorian justice" and has also denounced the "interference of the U.S. in an attempt to incarcerate an innocent". Other people who expressed their solidarity with Correa the former leaders Ollanta Humala, from Peru, and Ernesto Samper, of Colombia, something necessary, even insufficient, to get the attention on the so-called Ecuadorian injustice.

Rafael Correa to teleSUR: 'We're Heading to Economic Disaster'

“I hope I am wrong, but this administration is leading the country to another crisis,” stated the former president.

In an exclusive interview for teleSUR, Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa shared his views about the current administration one year after his successor and Lenin Moreno took office, denouncing the “betrayal” of his political successor.

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

Correa recalled that only a few weeks after the administration started, he acknowledged the political rupture: “They made a pact that they never mentioned to the party Alianza Pais, not even to the board, to Ecuador, for instance, the pact with the Social-Christian party, and gave the banks, the media, and everyone their share (of demands).”

But the former head of state said he later took the real measure of the “betrayal,” when members of Alianza Pais were probed on corruption charges, governing and using “political power to favor private interests” while “taking away subsidies for the poorest.” “This is the real corruption,” he added.

As for the economic policies, Correa said they were “a disaster.”

“Despite the drop of oil prices, despite losing trials in international courts, despite the devastating earthquake, we managed to recover the economy without increasing poverty and inequality in a record time.”

Quoting a recent report issued by the International Monetary Fund, Correa said the economic growth was positive with 3 percent by the end of 2013, denying Moreno's allegations that the national economy was going through a deep crisis when he took office.

However, at the beginning of 2018, the country started a recession despite the increase in oil prices. “I hope I am wrong, but this administration is leading the country to another crisis.”

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Venezuela Protests against Ecuador for Interventionist Positions

Caracas, Jul 6 (Prensa Latina) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela today delivered a protest note to the business manager of Ecuador, Elizabeth Mendez, for interventionist expressions by that country's government.

According to a press release published by the Foreign Ministry, the Deputy Foreign Minister for Latin America, Alexander Yanez, held a meeting with Mendez to express Venezuela's position on the ideas expressed in the letter delivered to his government on July 4.

The Deputy Minister highlighted Venezuela's respect for the people and institutions of Ecuador, and noted that the protest note states that President Lenin Moreno offered statements and interviews with the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, some of which refer Venezuela's internal affairs.

'It is important to note that the representative of the U.S. government has threatened Venezuela with a military operation and has imposed unilateral coercive measures against the Venezuelan economy and people,' said the source.

The protest note also stressed that the Bolivarian Government has never questioned the legality and legitimacy of the last Ecuador's electoral process, and therefore it urged that country's authorities to respect the will of the Venezuelan people, who constitutionally re-elected the President Nicolas Maduro.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yanez said that former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is considered a friend of Venezuela, where he is admired and respected for his ethical, political and humanistic qualities.

In this regard, for the Venezuelan Government it is a duty to express sincere solidarity with Correa and his family, given the circumstances and the manner in which unsuspected and undeserved acts against his person and political environment have been developed, he pointed out.

The Deputy Minister assured that the Executive of Venezuela is aware of the importance of the bilateral relations between the South American peoples, so he ratified the will to develop deep relations of high strategic interest for the Latin American integration.

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Ecuador: Rafael Correa Supporters March To Protest Detention

Thousands of Rafael Correa supporters marched through one of Quito's main arteries on Thursday in defense of Ecuador's former president, accused of orchestrating a failed kidnapping attempt in 2012 – a charge he vehemently denies.

Carrying giant 'No, Neoliberalism' signs and shouting "a people united will never be defeated," demonstrators marched along Quito's 10 de Agosto Avenue towards the Plaza Grande, outside President Lenin Moreno's executive offices, but were blocked by police forces.

Moreno has been accused by political opponents of betraying Correa's socialist-leaning Citizens' Revolution by favoring big business and private enterprises. He had previously served as Correa's vice president.

On July 3, Ecuador's National Court of Justice ruled that Correa should be taken into preventive detention. The court is accusing the former president – a popular, progressive politician who governed for a decade until he was replaced by Moreno last year – of 'illicit association' and being involved in the failed kidnapping of opposition lawmaker Fernando Balda in Bogota, 2012.

Balda claims that five people tried to kidnap him in the Colombian capital, but police stopped the attempt. Evidence supporting the allegations has yet to be made public.

The arrest warrant came shortly after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Ecuador on June 27. "There is a whole roadmap, there is a whole plot," Correa told AFP from Brussels, where he now lives with his family, insisting that Moreno "is behind this."

The Chief Prosecutor's office has requested that Interpol be notified of the request for Correa's arrest and extradition, but Correa told AFP he doubted Interpol or Belgian authorities would act on the warrant.

"Interpol takes its time, analyses the case and, if it is political, rejects it. We have a deep conviction that this is going to be thrown out because what is going on is nothing more political," said Correa. "The Belgian authorities will never process this nonsense."


In Quito, marchers carried a giant banner bearing the faces of Kristina Fernandez, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales: nearly all former progressive presidents in Latin America who are now being prosecuted by their respective right-wing governments.

A Correa supporter holds an Ecuadorean flag in front of the national police that prevented thousands of Thursday's protesters from entering the Plaza Grande. July 5, 2018. Photo credit: Marco Varese
In Brazil, former president turned candidate Lula has been in jail since early April, accused of having accepted an apartment as a bribe in the wide-reaching Lava Moto ('Car Wash') scandal.

Lula was jailed on the basis of testimonies alone, with no evidence submitted, and his lawyers have been denied due process to appeal

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Rivadeneira: Justice is Being Manipulated Against Rafael Correa

“An enormous challenge has arrived; the manipulation of the justice system with the payment of political favors is evident," Rivadeneira said.

Leader of the Citizens' Revolution movement, and former leader of the National Assembly of Ecuador, Gabriela Rivadeneira, has said that the justice system is being manipulated to wage a political war against former President Rafael Correa and the movement he led.

RELATED: Ecuador Suspends New Ambassador Trip to Venezuela

“The hardest hit is the effort to diminish, de-legitimize, not only the leader of the Citizens' Revolution, but an entire project that began from below, that had strength for ten years, that had made itself one of the biggest political forces of our day. This is what they want to end through judicial processes because they can't arrive to power through the popular vote,” Rivadeneira said in an interview with teleSUR's Enclave Politica.

Rivadeneira, a key Correa ally, said that the current government has reversed the gains of the Correa administration.

“It's been thirteen months since the government changed, and in thirteen months we have seen a backstep in national policy in economic terms, social terms, and sovereignty,” she said. “The economic elite of Ecuador have taken the public debate once again, through control of media corporations, and of the mouthpieces for the current government.”

“An enormous challenge has arrived; the manipulation of the justice system with the payment of political favors is evident.”

She also affirmed that Ecuador already has one political prisoner, Jorge Glas, regarding whom they “still have not presented a single bit of evidence that would demonstrate that he was indeed implicated in the crimes they claim.”

Ecuadorean lawyer Eduardo Franco Loor was invited to the discussion, where he pointed out that “there is no part of the conviction that determines that Rafael Correa was a participant, author, or accomplice (to said crime).”

“Rafael Correa has every right to request international protection... as a citizen that is being politically persecuted by his government.”

Ecuador's chief prosecutor requested a preventive detention of Correa for supposed involvement in a kidnapping, charges which he vehemently denies and says there is no evidence for.

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Ecuador: Correa 'Attacked' While Campaigning in Esmeraldas

Correa's life was reportedly threatened by violent opposition members who surrounded a radio station where he was being interviewed.

Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa has denounced an attack carried out on his motorcade and a building where he was being interviewed in Quininde, a city in the northern province of Esmeraldas.

RELATED: Ecuador's Referendum: Conciliation or 'Coup'?

According to a series of tweets posted by Correa and local media reports he was being interviewed at Radio Magia’s building when the individuals encircled the building and vandalized vehicles that formed part of his motorcade.

“The situation is very serious in Quininde. The radio where I was being interviewed is surrounded by people from the city council led by some people from the MPD (Popular Democratic Party), who were also in Brobón. I am sorry for the country! I embrace our beloved Quininde. Many people waited for the caravan,” Correa stated.

He also said leaders of the aggression had armed bodyguards and claimed they threatened his life and physical integrity. During an interview with TeleSUR, Correa claimed they were waiting for police protection to leave the radio station.  

Supporters of president Lenin Moreno's referendum (locally known as popular consultation) allegedly participated in the attack. In a video uploaded to multiple social media platforms, one attacker can be seen wearing a t-shirt supporting the referendum. 

"#UltimoMinuto (LastMinute) Aggression against #Ecuador former president Rafael Correa's caravan has been denounced. The radio where he was being interviewed in the province of #Esmeraldas had been surrounded. Rafael Correa confirmed the situation is serious. #ConsultaPopular2018 (#PopularConsultation2018)."

Correa's caravan was vandalized by the opposition members. "@MasiRafael caravan was attacked in the city of #Quininde, in the province of #Esmeraldas."

Ricardo Patiño, one of Correa's closest allies has said "it is the national government's responsibility to provide security for a former president. That is intelligence and efficacy."   
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