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11/04/2011 | Ecuadorean-American relations - A new scalp

The Economist Staff

ALTHOUGH the American diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks contain damaging accusations about public officials all over the world, no country formally expelled its United States ambassador in response to the documents for five months after they were first released. That streak ended on April 5th, when Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, had Heather Hodges named persona non grata for her “malicious and reckless” comments and demanded she leave the country.

 

Mr Correa’s ire was triggered by an article published a day earlier in El País, a Spanish newspaper. It reprinted an American cable speculating that he had chosen Jaime Hurtado, a police officer accused of involvement in kickbacks and blackmail, as head of the force in 2008 in order to have a “chief whom he could easily manipulate”, despite knowing about the corruption allegations against Mr Hurtado. The note recommended stripping Mr Hurtado and his wife and daughter of their American visas. Mr Hurtado has denied the corruption charges, and said the claims stem from his moves to stamp out American influence in the police.

Among the Latin American countries with populist, leftist governments, Ecuador has so far been the friendliest to the United States. It stood pat when Bolivia and Venezuela expelled their American ambassadors in 2008. Last June Hillary Clinton, America’s secretary of state, visited Quito, Ecuador’s capital, leading Mr Correa to reminisce about the “happiest four years of my life” he spent getting a doctorate in the United States. Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was sufficiently bothered to complain that Mr Correa had “smothered her in kisses”.

Mr Correa has reason to be sensitive about allegations of corruption. An independent commission reviewing public contracts won by his older brother found that the president knew about dealings that cost the treasury at least $140m. Mr Correa’s deputy interior minister is currently a fugitive, in hiding from smuggling charges.

The government has sought to undermine the allegations in the cable by noting they were published just one month before a controversial referendum on constitutional reform. The timing of the release “is really suspicious”, says Doris Soliz, the politics minister. In an official statement, the government said it had made an aggressive effort to fight corruption in the police, which it claimed helped to provoke a police mutiny on September 30th that Mr Correa calls an attempted coup.

Ecuador may pay a steep price for expelling Ms Hodges. On April 7th, America announced that it would reciprocally expel Ecuador’s ambassador in Washington, and had cancelled bilateral talks scheduled for June. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee in America’s Congress, called Ecuador’s decision “irresponsible”, “whimsical” and “impulsive”, and said the country could no longer expect the United States to restore its expired trade preferences anytime soon. Mr Correa will need the price of oil to remain high to make up for this lost economic opportunity.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 


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27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House