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Ecuador

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The Republic of Ecuador (Republica del Ecuador) is a Western South American country which borders the Pacific Ocean at the Equator and is located between Colombia and Peru. [1]


Population

In July 2006, Ecuador's estimated population was 13,547,510: [2]

  • 65% mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white), 25% Amerindian, 7% Spanish and others 7%, and 3% black
  • 95% Roman Catholic and 5% other
  • Spanish is the official language but there are also Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)

Social interests

Ecuador is a country in which the "Indigenous movement proposes to assume its own power. ... Given the rejection by Ecuadorian president Alfredo Palacio of the demands made by the popular sector, the indigenous movement is today to assume power itself and convene a popular consultation on the Free Trade Agreement." [3]

Oil interests

Ecuador is a country which could produce vast wealth through its oil industry. However those prospects are problematic because, in "the northern Amazon, Indians are suing (ChevronTexaco) a U.S. oil company over environmental damage they say ruined their land and made people sick. Further south, indigenous demonstrators have led violent protests to keep firms off their property. ... Ecuador is one of Latin America's least stable nations and has a powerful Indian movement. But it is also one of the region's most promising nations for oil development with a government eager to tap five billion barrels in reserves." [4]

"The lawsuit so far hasn't put off investment, analysts say, citing a new $1.4 billion pipeline built this year by private oil firms. But companies are keeping an eye on an eventual ruling that could affect the industry, they said.
"Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, says it followed accepted procedures during its two decades in the Amazon and paid for a $40 million clean-up that was approved by the Ecuadorean government after its contract to produce crude with state oil company Petroecuador ended in 1992. ... Texaco no longer operates oil blocks in Ecuador."
"Ecuador's government is hoping for a second oil boom now that the new pipeline has been built -- which could double the nation's crude output -- to reduce the poverty blighting the lives of 60 percent of its people.
"But more than 125 miles further south, Argentine oil company CGC and U.S. Burlington Resources Inc. have had government contracts to explore for crude for more than three years and neither has been able to drill a single well. ... Achuar Indians have protested against oil development by kidnapping workers and holding demonstrations, saying they must protect the pristine forest where they've lived for decades. They are betting on an ecotourism project instead of oil."
"One reason Ecuador has been unable to convince jungle dwellers of the benefits of oil is that the cash it generates is channelled to the central government instead of the Amazon region, where 78 percent of people are poor."

Media

The BBC says of the country's media:

The constitution provides for freedom of speech, and journalists are able to report without hindrance. However, some self-censorship, especially regarding politically-sensitive issues and stories about the armed forces, is exercised. Also, defamation is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison. Thus the media are generally non-confrontational and measured in tone.
Under a law which requires the media to give the government free space or air time, governments can and have required TV and radio to broadcast programmes produced by the state.
Internet use is limited by high access costs. Less than 10% of Ecuadorans have web access.[1]

U.S. military base in Ecuador

The U.S. has a naval and air force base at Manta since signing a ten year lease in 1999. In November 2006, left-leaning Rafael Correa was elected president, promising not to renew the lease when it comes up for renewal in 2009. He said, "We can negotiate with the U.S. about a base in Manta, if they let us put a military base in Miami."

Luis Angel Saavedra writing for the Fellowship of Reconciliation said, "Seven years of U.S. military presence have shown that the base’s main activities are not related to fighting the drug trade. Instead, it provides logistical support for the counterinsurgency war in Colombia, giving real-time information on the movement of guerrilla forces that operate there. It also exercises immigration control by locating boats with people trying to reach the United States in search of the so-called "American dream."

"Although the agreement restricts maritime interdiction to the Ecuadorian Navy, U.S. military ships have conducted more than 45 illegal actions, boarding boats that carried immigrants or were at work fishing, as well as sinking or causing damage to at least eight Ecuadorian boats between 2001 and June 2005.

"Ecuadorian media have also uncovered several attempts by the U.S. company Dyncorp to convert Manta into a center for recruiting mercenaries. Since March 2002, Dyncorp has had a work force of 134 people on the Manta base.

"In August 2005, media documented the existence of a company called EPI Security & Investigators, owned by Jeffrey Shippy, a former fireman tied to the Dyncorp team in Manta. Shippy maintained a Web site that recruited Colombian mercenaries to be sent to Iraq. EPI had hired nearly a thousand Colombians and had received files of several Ecuadorian ex-soldiers interested in working as mercenaries in Iraq. They were offered salaries from $2,500 to $5,000 a month, depending on their “operational capacity.” But EPI Security & Investigators disappeared from the Web, and its supposed owner also disappeared, so that Dyncorp again remained safe from any connection to these events." [2]

Leaders

  • Rafael Correa, President, elected in 2006, he is promising a social revolution to help the poor.[1]

Related SourceWatch articles

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Country profile: Ecuador, BBC, accessed April 2008.
  2. Luis Angel Saavedra, "The Manta Base: A U.S. Military Fort in Ecuador", Fellowship of Reconciliation, Winter 2007.

Websites

General

Maps

  • Ecuador, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Ecuador, WorldAtlas.com.
  • Ecuador, Holt, Rinehart and Winston World Atlas.

Videos

Books

  • Marc Becker, Indians and Leftists in the Making of Ecuador’s Modern Indigenous Movements (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008). (review in Monthly Review)

News links

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