Your Friendly CIA at Work in Latin America February 22, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in About Ecuador, Bolivia, Ecuador, Latin America, Venezuela.
Tags: alliance for progress, Alvaro Uribe, bay of pigs, Bolivia, chauvin, cia, cold war, cold warriors, Communism, Cuba, Ecuador, Evo Morales, felipe calderon, gates, hillary clinton, Hugo Chavez, john kennedy, leon panetta, mark sullivan, monroe doctrine, Obama, peace corps, Rafael Correa, Raul Reyes, roger hollander, venezueal, war against terror
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By Roger Hollander
February 22, 2009
John Kennedy was a true cold-warrior, make no mistake about it. But, like Barack Obama, he was a man of culture and class. His brilliant creations – the Alliance for Progress (for Latin America) and the Peace Corps – were nothing more or nothing less than instruments to combat Communism in the Third World. But they were designed to do so with finesse and sophistication and they carried high levels of intrinsic PR value. Unfortunately for JFK, he inherited from his Republican predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, advanced plans to invade Cuba. Unable or unwilling (more likely the former, in my opinion) to abort the invasion, his Latin American strategy was all but destroyed by the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Today’s “Cold War” goes by the name of the “War Against Terror.” But the “enemy” is still whatever or whomever threatens U.S. geopolitical interests. In Latin America today’s Cold Warriors feel menaced in particular by the governments of three of the five Andina nations: Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, who are proponents of a progressive nationalism (which they call “socialism”) that directly challenges U.S. commercial and military influence. With center-left governments also in power in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Nicaragua, United States sway in the sub-continent is at a low that has probably not been seen since its proclamation of the infamous Monroe Doctrine. It’s only two reliable allies are the Calderón government Mexico, which most Mexicans believe stole the election, and the drug and paramilitary infested government of Alvaro Uribe in Colombia, a nation that has been armed to the teeth by the United States to combat (in the name of the phony war on drugs) a leftist insurgency that has its roots in events that took place in the 1950s.
This is what Obama has inherited. Although he campaigned as a peace candidate, his selection of Clinton (State) and Gates (Defence), his missile attacks on Pakistan, and his troop build-up in Afghanistan indicates to us that he is a Cold Warrior at heart. But, like Kennedy, his foreign policy rhetoric has been more of a conciliatory nature (from his inaugural address: “And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capital to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity …”).
He would be wise, therefore, to order Leon Panetta to rein in his CIA operations in Latin America – that is, assuming that a United States president has de facto power over its cantankerous and unwieldy espionage Leviathan.
Virtually no one in Latin America believes that the CIA was not behind the failed coup d’etat attempt to unseat Hugo Chávez in 2002. The result of that botched coup only served to bolster Chávez’ popularity both within Venezuela and throughout Latin America. In Bolivia, working through the DEA and USAID contingents, its crude attempts to support the ultra-right violence against the government of Evo Morales backfired and contributed to Morales’ sweet victory in their constitutional referendum.
Today, there are signs that the CIA is at work in Ecuador. Ecuadorian daily newspapers are packed with news about a potential scandal that could embarrass the leftist government of Rafael Correa (as in Venezuela and Bolivia, the corporate media are virtually unanimous in their opposition to the ruling leftist governments, which thrive on popular support nonetheless). José Ignacio Chauvin, a former high level ministerial aide who served for three months in the Correa government, is under investigation by Ecuador’s National Police for friendship with alleged drug dealers (the Ostaiza brothers). Chauvin, a member of an extreme leftist faction of Correa’s Alianza País party, also has acknowledged visits with the Colombian guerrilla leader, Raúl Reyes, prior to his assassination last year in Ecuadorian territory by the U.S. supported Colombian military, which resulted in severed ties between Ecuador and Colombia.
This information provides lurid grist to the anti-Correa mill, over which the opposition has been salivating. But Correa has shown himself to be a more than worthy adversary, and is well on to the counter-attack. Last week his Chief of the National Police suspended three high level police officials suspected of turning over computerized information to the U.S. Embassy. He also fired Manuel Silva, the Chief of Special Investigations in charge of the Chauvin investigation for failure to capture Chauvin in a timely manner, and he ordered the expulsion of U.S. Diplomat Armando Eslarza for meddling in Ecuadorian police affairs.
This week Correa expelled Mark Sullivan, a Regional Affairs officer in the U.S. Embassy in Quito, accusing Sullivan of being the CIA’s Director of Operations for Ecuador and attempting to use the Chauvin affair and the media to destabilize his government. In the aftermath of Colombia’s violation of Ecuadorian territory last March to murder Raúl Reyes and his comrades, Correa alleged that his National Police were thoroughly infiltrated by the CIA, and he vowed to rectify the situation if it cost him his presidency or his life.
None of this is hard proof that the CIA is at work to destabilize the Ecuadorian government, but given past history and the debacles in Venezuela and Bolivia, it is difficult to believe otherwise.
That such activity almost always turns out to be counter-productive, giving more support and legitimacy to the targeted governments both domestically and abroad doesn’t seem to bother their instigators. Clandestine and overtly military operations seldom achieve the desired results (cf. Iraq and Afghanistan); and most “experts” counsel diplomacy and social development as alternatives. But these latter strategies do not sell tanks, and guns, and bombs, and sophisticated aircraft and missiles – and many believe that is what it is all about.
The question then is: will Obama stand up to the Super Spies, the Pentagon and the Military-Industrial Complex in compliance with his campaign rhetoric; or will his administration amount to business as usual in Latin America?
One, Two, Three … Many Ecuadors? December 22, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in A: Roger's Original Essays, About Ecuador, Economic Crisis, Ecuador, Latin America.
Tags: Alberto Acosta, commercial banks, Economic Crisis, Ecuador, ecudor dictatorship, external debt, illegal debt, illegitimate debt, IMF, Latin America, latin american parliament, Rafael Correa, roger hollander, third world debt, third world poverty, washington consensus, World Bank
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© Roger Hollander, 2008
Four the past fourteen months a Commission appointed by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to “audit” the nation’s public debt in the period from 1976-2006 has been labouring away on a report that landed like a bombshell when it was issued on November 20.
La Comisión de Auditoria Integral del Crédito Público (Commission for the Integral Audit of the Public Debt) was made up of senior government officials, representatives of Ecuadorian social movements and international organizations. Its mandate was to investigate the legitimacy and legality of external and internal debt incurred by governments in the designated period through the examination of conventions, contracts, and other documents related to acquired public debt and entered into between governments, multilateral financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, etc.), commercial banks, and the private sector both national and foreign.
If the Commission’s conclusions can be verified, a virtual revolution with respect to public debt could very well occur within the entire Third World, for there is little doubt that the kind of financial shenanigans uncovered by the Commission in Ecuador are not unique to that country.
The Commission’s 172 page report outlined various categories of illicit and illegal debt, including “odious debts” incurred by the military dictatorship (1970-1979), usurious debts, and corrupt debts (contracted under conditions that do not conform to the legal norms of the lender or debtor or international norms). It went on to cite instances of illicit and hidden clauses, uncontrolled and disproportionate expenses and commissions, excessive arms sales, capitalization of interest, and fraudulent collusion between lending institutions and government officials that served individual interests at the expense of the Ecuadorian nation.
According to Patrick Esteruelas, analyst at Eurasia Group, the report found “multiple irregularities in debt contracted between 1976 and 2006, such as double payments, abusive clauses, false justifications and negligence on the part of high-level government officials and multilateral institutions.”
Esteruelas, who has seen a copy of the audit report, said that it recommends that Ecuador suspend payments on all three of its global bonds, at least 45 multilateral loans and its debt to the Paris Club of international lenders. “The government will likely use these findings to enter into talks with bond holders over restructuring terms, driving a very hard bargain that will hamstring any negotiations and could likely lead the government to default,” Esteruelas said.
Perhaps the most controversial and explosive finding of the report is that not only private financial institutions but also multilateral lending institutions such as the IMF and World Bank are accused of being guilty of colluding with local government officials to impose impossible conditions and to “socialize” private debt. It alleges that false and misleading information was used to promote indebtedness and makes the general assertion that the lending institutions were guilty of policies that violated national sovereignty in favor of implementing the neoliberal policies of the “Washington Consensus.”
The Report advocates the notion of “co-responsibility” for illicit debt, a concept that the industrialized lending countries and multilateral funding institutions have roundly rejected. The situation may be analogous with the sub-prime rate mortgage lending “scandal” in the United States where lenders knowingly created debt that could not likely be repaid. Many believe that the lender as well as the borrower should share in the responsibility for the disastrous consequences of such practices.
Beyond narrow legal and financial considerations, the Report speaks of the social costs to the people of Ecuador. Its external debt rose from $241 million in 1970 to $16.6 billion in July 2006 (a 690% increase). From 1980 to 2006, the Ecuadorian government’s expenditure on education decreased from 30% to 12% and on health from 10% to 7%, while the percentage of the government budget to service the debt rose from 15% to 47%. A 2006 Report (“Comparte”) indicates that poverty affects 65% of Ecuadorians, and the 70% of Ecuador’s children live in extreme poverty. 30% of Ecuadorian children do not complete primary education.
When President Correa called into question the $30 million coupon on Ecuador’s Global 2012 bonds that was due on November 15 (with a 30-day grace period) ,Ecuador’s credit rate has plummeted. S&P has lowered Ecuador’s long-term sovereign credit rating to CCC- from B-, citing the severe uncertainty regarding the government’s willingness and likelihood to pay during the grace period. Meanwhile, Moody’s downgraded Ecuador’s B3 foreign currency government bond rating to Caa1 and placed them on review for another downgrade. They claim that Ecuador has “ample liquidity” and that the government’s action has demonstrated its “poor willingness” to pay.
True to form, a Moody’s senior analyst, Alessandra Alecci, was quick to “blame the victim.” “It seems that the [Ecuadorian] government’s stance towards bond holders is motivated by political and ideological factors, given the very small fiscal relief that a default would bring compared to the damage to the government’s ability to access international markets,” she said.
Now that Correa has announced that he will not meet the final December 15 deadline, the rating is expected to plummet. According to a report in the Globe and Mail, “Ratings agency Standard & Poor is likely to downgrade Ecuador’s credit rating to “Selective Default” from triple-C-negative, one of the agency’s analysts said after Mr. Correa’s announcement.”
Ecuador’s Alberto Acosta, a highly respected economist who served as President of the country’s recently concluded Constituent Assembly, challenges the position of the lender community. “Debt and corruption,” he says, “are two sides of the same coin.” He points out that “the developed countries have denied any co-responsibility whatsoever in their capacity as lenders, and, in fact, have blocked any investigation of the processes of indebtedness, their legality and, especially their legitimacy.” He cites as an example of the suffering of the underdeveloped nations as a consequence of the vicissitudes of the policies of the wealthy nations the fact that the soaring interest rates of the 1980s resulted in a net loss of financial resources in Latin America of 210 Billion dollars.
The Ecuadorian government has retained U.S. Attorney Paul Reichler of the law firm Foley and Hoag to advise on international law applicable to their case. It is considering an appeal to the World Court at The Hague.
Should Ecuador succeed in its ground breaking attempt to call to account the wealthy nations of the world and their multilateral lending institutions for at least co-responsibility for the enormous social and economic damage to the world’s poorest nations that has resulted from external indebtedness, we very well might see a domino effect. On December 5, the 22 countries that make up the Parlamento Latinoamericano (Latin American Parliament) threw their support behind Ecuador and urged its member to begin similar actions. In Spain, a coalition of more than 50 NGOs has sent a letter to the President of Spain asking the government to forgive its part of the Ecuadorian debt and to review its debts with other countries to verify their legitimacy.
Unwanted fuel to the fire given the state of the world’s financial institutions, on the one hand. On the other, some of the world’s poorest and most exploited nations may be finally taking a stand against the capricious and destructive lending that has deepened their levels of poverty.
Home website of the Comisión de Auditoria Integral del Crédito Público:
http://www.auditoriadeuda.org.ec/ (contains complete Report)
Polya Lesova, “Fears Rise Over Possible Ecuador Default,” MarketWatch, November 19, 2008; http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Fears-rise-Ecuador-may-default/story.aspx?guid=%7B46EE5CFA-6F60-4688-906C-4889080A83FF%7D
“Ecuador: A New Perspective on External Debt,” Third World Resurgence #198/199 (Feb/Mar 2007)
CENSAT, “Informe de la Comisión de Auditoría Integral del Crédito Público de Ecuador,” En Deuda con los Derechos – Sep 25, 2008,
Paulina Escobar & Julia Chávez, “La sucretización es una ilegalidad por sancionar,” El Telegrafo, Guayaquil, Ecuador, November 26, 2008,http://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/macroeconomia/noticia/archive/macroeconomia/2008/11/26/La-sucretizaci_F300_n-es-una-ilegalidad-por-sancionar.aspx
“Comisión hace público informe de auditoría,” Diario El Mercurio, Manta, Ecuador, Novermber 27, 2008
Alberto Acosta, “Un paso histórico para una solución definitiva,” unpublished; from [Yapapolitica] Deuda external illegal de ecuador – Alberto Acosta; private e-mail to the author, firstname.lastname@example.org, November 25, 2008
“Ecuador contrata abogados estadounidenses para disputa de la deuda,” El Universio, Guayaquil, Ecuador, December 2, 2008, http://www.eluniverso.com/2008/12/02/0001/9/2CF4A5CF4CEB48ECB3380718D219763C.html
“Acreedores nerviosos por posible efecto contagio en pagos de deuda,” El Universio, Guayaquil, Ecuador, December 8,2008. C:UsersrhollanderDesktopEL UNIVERSO – Acreedores nerviosos por posible efecto contagio en pagos de deuda – Dec_ 08, 2008 – Economía.mht
“ONG solicita a España anular deuda ilegal,” El Universio, Guayaquil, Ecuador, December 12, 2008 (paper edition).
Maria Eugenia Tello, (Reuters, December 12, 2008) “Ecuador defaults on foreign debt,” The Globe and Mail,” December 13, 2008. http://business.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081212.wecuador1212/BNStory/Business/home
Membership of the La Comisión de Auditoria Integral del Crédito Público (Commission for the Integral Audit of the Public Debt)
Minister of Finance and Economy
President of the Civic Council for the Control of Corruption
- JUBILEO 2000
- ACCION ECOLOGICA
- RADIO LA LUNA
- MINISTERIO DE LA COORDINACIÓN POLÍTICA
- MINISTERIO DE FINANZAS
- OBSERVATORIO CIUDADANO DE LA DEUDA EXTERNA EN ECUADOR
- JUBILEO SUR
- FEDERACIÓN LUTERANA MUNDIAL
- AUDITORÍA CIUDADANA DE BRASIL
- CONSEJO MUNDIAL DE IGLESIAS
Ecuador Overwhelmingly Adopts Progressive Constitution September 29, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in About Ecuador, Ecuador, Latin America.
Tags: Alianza Pais Ecuador, Ecuador, Ecuador Consititution, Ecuador Constitutent Assembly, Ecuador Correa, Ecuador Election, Ecuador Government, Ecuador politics, Ecuador Politics and History, Ecuador Progressive Nationalism, Ecuador referendum, Rafael Correa, roger hollander
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Roger Hollander/September 29, 2008
In voting to approve a new progressive and nationalistic constitution, the vast majority of Ecuadorians have again scored a major victory against the traditional right and the capitalist “owners” of the country.
Last year an unprecedented 81% of Ecuadorians had voted to create a Constituent Assembly with a mandate to propose a new Magna Carta for the country, and then gave the supporters of President Rafael Correa a healthy majority in the Assembly. Now, in a referendum held ysterday, September 28, by an overwhelming margin of nearly three to one, the people of Ecuador voted to adopt the new constitution.
The new constitution provides for the protection of the nation’s natural resources (including land and water), creates a pluri-national state in which the rights of women, racial minorities, and Indigenous communities are protected. It places a major emphasis on human rights; allows for civil union for gays and Lesbians; free health care for seniors, women who are pregnant and nursing, and those with major illness such as cancer and AIDs; and free public education up to the university level. It prohibits the establishment of foreign military bases within its borders (Correa has already made it clear that the large U.S. airbase in the major port of Manta will be dismantled when the treaty that created it expires in 2009).
Although the new constitution was put together in haste and is an unwieldy document of more than 200 pages (and it remains to be seen if the government can generate the financial resources or has the capacity to create the institutional infrastructure to comply with its objectives in a timely manner), its approval by the Ecuadorian masses represents another victory for Rafael Correa, a U.S. educated economist who refers to himself as a “Christian Socialist.” It provides a base for continued reforms aimed at the various forms of capitalist imperialism that have plagued the country since its inception. This includes a determination to re-distribute wealth through taxation and subsides, protective tariffs for local industry, and fair labor laws. The government already has shown a determination to challenge unfair international debt and to expel industries that violate its laws and damage the environment. Although the government is not without its internal critics, it is by and large supported by all the progressive social movements in the country, along with the Indigenous communities and organized labor.
What is perhaps most astonishingly refreshing is to see nearly seven out of every ten Ecuadorians say “Yes” to a constitutional initiative that resoundingly rejects the corrupt traditional political parties of the right, the financial and capitalist industrial sector, the traditional economic oligarchies, and the reactionary hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. This in spite of a Rovian type campaign against the constitution that was based upon distortion and fear; raised the spectre of dictatorship, rampant abortion, homosexuality and godlessness; and which had the support of the majority of the media, the Church, the banks, the industrial sector, the political pundits, and the far right Social Christian Party, which has ruled on the Coast of Ecuador for decades (I find it fascinating to ponder why Ecuadorians seem to be more “Rove-proof” than North Americans).
This, of course does not mean that the capitalist class and the right are acknowledging defeat. As with the four separatist provinces in Bolivia, which have brought that country to the brink of civil war through U.S. supported sabotage and right-wing terrorism, Jaime Nebot, Mayor of Guayaquil and leader of the Social Christian Party has threatened to initiate a separatist movement (which is specifically prohibited by the new constitution) and has made it clear that continued resistance to progressive reform will continue with a vengeance. However, his hand has been weakened significantly by the overwhelming “Yes” vote at the national level, and even a slim plurality over the “No” vote both in Guayaquil and the broader coastal Province of Guayas.
All this also does not mean that Correa necessarily understands the law of value and is prepared to lead a frontal attack against capital itself. He is radically progressive in a nationalist sense, but not a socialist in the Marxist sense. Nonetheless, he symbolically heads a movement that represents the masses of Ecuadorians who are passionate for fundamental change against the corruption and plundering of the nation’s wealth, which has left a legacy of poverty and hunger. It is a movement that is not going to rest until a genuine humanistic society replaces that of inherent capitalist exploitation.
Elections in the U.S., Canada and Ecuador, and the Influence of Karl Rove September 24, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in About Canada, About Ecuador, About Repubicans, Canada, U.S. Election 2008.
Tags: Canadian Election, Conservative Party, Ecuador Consititution, Ecuador Constitutent Assembly, Ecuador Election, Ecuador politics, Ecuador referendum, Ecuadorian right, election 2008, Karl Rove, Karl Rove stragegy, lies, manipulation, McCain and Karl Rove, Palin and Karl Rove, Republican Party, roger hollander, Rove, spin, U.S. election
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I have ties with three countries, the United States, Canada and Ecuador, which happen to be — all three– in the midst of election campaigns.
A single word comes to mind: Rove. As in Karl Rove. In the States Rove and his protégés are firmly in control of the McCain campaign. And it’s all about Sarah Palin, who combines the characteristics of motherhood and apple pie at the same time as she comes across, as one commentator described her, as a toned down porn star. Issues be damned. It’s about Sarah, right to life (for the foetus if not for American soldiers and Iraqi and Afghani civilians), gay marriage, flexing American muscle in the face of terrorism, taking advantage of every vestige of racism that remains strong in the American psyche, and, of course, playing the religion card. It’s a form of triumphalism that would make Joseph Goebbels proud.
In Canada, where a former Prime Minister, once famously said elections are no place to discuss issues, Conservative PM Stephen Harper has not forgotten the infamous Willie Horton commercial that sunk Michael Dukakis in the 1988 U.S. presidential election. He is promoting life sentences for 14 year old gang members (with parole eligibility after 25 years – let no one ever say that Harper doesn’t have a heart). In an attempt to paint his opponents as latte drinking, quiche eating elites, he has justified his cutting of funding to arts and culture because ordinary folks don’t care about the arts. He went on to add: “average Canadians have no sympathy for ‘rich’ artists who gather at galas to whine about their grants.”
But it is in Ecuador, which is in the midst of a referendum to approve or reject a new progressive Constitution, that even Karl Rove could learn a thing or two. The “No” campaign has stooped to lows that the master of lies, distortion and spin might not dare to descend. The Ecuadorian right, along with its conservative allies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, are shouting at the top of their collective voice (with the support of most Ecuadorian media) that the under the proposed new Constitution, the State will promote abortion, homosexuality, dictatorship, poverty and hunger (including the latter two is bitterly ironic in that those who for generation have held power and are desperate not to relinquish it, are the very ones responsible for the high degree of poverty and hunger that exist in the country in the first place).
Riding through the streets of Guayaquil, the nations largest city and principal seaport, I saw scores of humble apparently home-made “No” signs. I said to myself that the “No” campaign must be somehow getting to ordinary people. On closer look, however, I discovered that the signs, which appeared to be clumsily made with ball point pens, were in fact mass produced lithographs. You might try that one some day, Karl.
No here is what for me is the most interesting irony. In the U.S. and Canada, the Rovite candidates are poised to celebrate victory. In Canada, Conservative PM Stephen Harper seems to be on the verge of converting his minority government into a majority one. In the States, McCain still holds a slight edge over Obama, despite the fact that the popularity of the Republican Party is at an all-time low. These campaigns are far from over, and could still turn around in favor of more moderate parties.
In Ecuador, however, despite the heavily financed campaign for the “No” vote coming from the traditional rightist parties and their corporate sponsors, and despite the backing of most of the media and political pundits for a “No” vote; the “Yes” campaign appears to hold a solid majority. The majority of Ecuadorians, who live in a country where the levels of illiteracy and under education far exceed those of the United States and Canada, somehow have found a way to see through the lies and manipulations and have continued to support the Alianza País Party (which has created the proposed new Constitution) and its President, Rafael Correa, who have maintained high degrees of popularity despite constant attacks from the right and the media.
There is a powerful slogan that is often used at political rallies: “El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido” (“the people, united, will never be defeated”). In Ecuador, this seems to be developing into reality. I have hopes for the same in the two North American alleged democracies.
Stealing Elections for Dummies: the Referendum in Ecuador September 11, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in About Ecuador, Ecuador, Latin America.
Tags: Ecuador Consititution, Ecuador Constitutent Assembly, Ecuador Government, Ecuador politics, Ecuador referendum, Karl Rove stragegy, roger hollander, Stealing Elections
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Stealing Elections for Dummies
©Roger Hollander, 2008
You will, of course, recognize the author of “Stealing Elections for Dummies,” a man whose name will go down in infamy for his gift to the American people and the world of none other than George W. Bush.
I have just returned for another stint in Ecuador, and if Karl Rove is not here in the flesh, his spirit certainly has arrived to haunt an important election. For nearly a year an elected Constituent Assembly has been at work to hammer out a new Constitution for the country, one that will, if adopted, mark the beginning of a new era of government. The thrust of the proposed new Constitution would be to create government where priority is given to social justice and human rights, in a country where poverty, economic inequality and corruption have ruled since time immemorial.
A nation-wide referendum will be held on September 28 to either accept or reject the proposed new Constitution. Campaigns for “Sí” and “No” are in full swing. The left-progressive government of President Rafael Correa along with allied political parties and virtually every civil social movement are hard at work to promote the “Yes” vote. The ruling oligarchy and the traditional center and right parties are desperate to achieve a negative result.
And this is where students of the fine art of Karl Rove come into play. Although the Constituent Assembly worked diligently to put together a draft Constitution that deals with the economy, natural resources, health, education, culture, provincial autonomy, the military, etc.; the “No” campaign is talking (yelling, screaming) about only two issues. You guessed it … gays and abortion. In a country that is over 90% Roman Catholic.
The new Constitution would define marriage as that between a man and a woman; but it does allow for the equivalence of civil unions for gays. “No” campaign bumper stickers boldly carry sweet slogans like “No to Faggots.”
But an alien visiting Ecuador right now might thing there is a referendum on nothing other than abortion. The new Constitution protects the sanctity of life beginning with conception. However, it allows for the right of families to limit the number of children, which in essence gives legitimacy to birth control; but it goes further to state the abortion is not considered a legitimate form of birth control. This somehow is not good enough for the Catholic Church leaders in the country, who have allied themselves with the political right in the “No” camp.
By far the most ubiquitous “No” campaign slogan is a simple “No to Abortion.”
Such strategies in the U.S, along with other nefarious tactics (such as denying voting rights to minorities who would likely vote Democratic and outright manipulation of electronic voting where there is no paper trail) have worked for Professor Karl Rove and his eager Republican students; and the McCain/Palin campaign has already began to clobber Barak Obama with what is tried and true.
The same “consultants” who advise the Republican Party in the U.S. also made there way to Mexico in 2006, and majority opinion in Latin America is that the presidential victory of rightist Felipe Calderón over progressive reformer López Obrador by less than one hundredth of one percent was another example of electoral thievery.
In Ecuador, however, where the young charismatic and progressive Rafael Correa came virtually out of nowhere to win the presidency in 2006; and where the referendum to hold a Constituent Assembly to restructure the nation’s political system was supported by a whopping 80% of the population; and where the supporters of Correa won over two thirds of the Constituent Assembly seats; a victory for the “Yes” campaign is almost universally expected to overcome the lies and distortions and approve the new Constitution. We will know on September 28.
Assuming this to be the likely outcome, it is nice to know that somewhere in the world, even in the political backwater of a small country such as Ecuador, with its population of only 12 million, the wisdom of ordinary people can see through the manipulations of those powerful interests that have kept them in poverty and misery for such a long time.