In June, major business groups including the NAM wrote U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging his careful review of Ecuador’s trade preferences under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act. The government of Rafael Correra had undermined the rule of law, the letter argued, noting:
In particular, there are serious concerns within the U.S. business community about breaches of the basic rule of law that are occurring in Ecuador, contrary to the basic eligibility requirements of section 203(c). As found by the State Department in its annual human rights report on
Ecuador released in February 2009, there are concerns with “corruption and the denial of due process within [Ecuador’s] judicial system.” U.S. businesses have also continued to see Ecuador’s repudiation of its legal obligations to U.S. investors and a politicization of the judicial system.
The Obama Administration took these and other objections seriously, and the Administration’s report on Ecuador and Bolivia’s compliance with the trade act cited Ecuador’s serious violations. While denying Bolivia continued trade advantages under the law, the Administration extended Ecuador’s terms; still, Ecuador had been put on notice.
Correa doesn’t care. The Washington Times today takes editorial note of Ecuador’s recent, serious transgressions against the rule of law, international comity and democratic freedoms. From “Cut Off Ecuador“:
On July 15, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said that in his new role as president of the Union of South American Nations, he will try to create a regional organization to shut down critics in the media. This frightening move against a free press came two weeks after Mr. Correa began efforts to shut down Ecuador’s Teleamazonas television network.
On July 16, Ecuador’s state-owned Petroecuador oil company seized the oil fields of the Anglo-French Perenco Corp. This was despite a demand in May from an official arbitration body of the World Bank that the Ecuadorean government stop seizing oil. The expropriation of oil is nothing new. In 2006, Ecuador did the same thing to the American Occidental Petroleum Corp.
Most damning of all, Associated Press reported on July 17 that “an hourlong video” of a rebel leader “appears to dispel any doubts that Colombia’s largest rebel army gave money to the 2006 election campaign” of Mr. Correa.
This is the same government celebrated by the trial lawyers and activists who are pursuing a dishonest publicity campaign against Chevron, trying to bludgeon the company into settling a $27 billion lawsuit. (Ecuador laywyer, Pablo Fajardo: “President, this is my colleague, Steven Danziger.” Correa: “Wonderful. Keep it up!”) The debasement of Ecuador’s rule of law vitiates the legal claims against Chevron, which is why the activists are so fervent in their PR extortion.
In any case, with its active hostility against a neighboring democratic country and attacks against foreign investment, Ecuador has demonstrated its unworthiness to enjoy any trade advantages from the United States.
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