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El Comercio, Ecuador

Ecuador 'Rejects' Objectives of Negroponte's Tour

 

"Behind the scenes of the meeting, a certain chill was evident between the two delegations … there was a rejection of the objective of Negroponte's tour, which is to open channels of dialogue on the subject of trade."

 

By Santiago Zeas

 

Translated By Barbara Howe

 

May 14, 2007

 

Ecuador - El Commercio - Original Article (Spanish)

Ecuador's reservations in regard to the free trade and the regional security policies of the United States, as well as Ecuador's request that an agreement on preferential trade privileges be extended [the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act, or ATPDEA], were the topics of the brief meeting between President Rafael Correa and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte.

 

Behind the scenes of the meeting, a certain chill was evident between the two delegations, the fruit of a recent disagreement over the sudden change of headquarters for the UNITAS military maneuvers, as well as Ecuador's ambivalent position in regard to the Treaty of Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments, which expires this week.

 

[Editor's Note: The Correa government refuses to participate in the UNITAS 2007 military exercises, which also take place in Colombia, Chile and Peru, because of the attitude shown by WashingtonQuito's note of protest to the U.S. says that Ecuador will not accept impositions and refusals of control over the entry of U.S. troops into the country’s waters. This decision led the U.S. Southern Command to withdraw the UNITAS 2007 headquarters from Ecuador and move it to Colombia. Quito's communiqué further reads that "faced with these unusual, unilateral, and unacceptable decisions, we decided not to participate in the naval exercises." In regard to the Treaty of Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments, that expires this week, this provides for certain protections for U.S. investors in Ecuador - especially in regard to natural resources - and for Ecuadorian investors in the United States . The other treaty that expires this week - which Ecuador wants extended - the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act, provides special trade benefits and aid for countries that cooperate with the U.S.-led "war on drugs"].

 

In the east wing of the Salón de Gabinete de Carondelet , Negroponte, Secretary of the Office of Hemispheric Affairs, Thomas Shannon, and U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador, Linda Jewell, had to wait several minutes before President Correa arrived. The greeting was cordial but cold. A single handshake was performed for the benefit of photojournalists.

 

Correa immediately issued a formal welcome to the visitors. His words left a sense that his government would distance itself from certain policies of the White House, which supposedly violates Ecuadorian sovereignty. Without mentioning it directly, the President referred to the friction over the U.S. Southern Command's decision to remove the headquarters for the UNITAS naval exercises from Ecuador.

 

"You are welcome [here]. Ecuador has a government that is deeply committed to democracy and freedom, but like the United States, it is also committed to its sovereignty" said Correa, who said this weekend that the Ecuadorian Navy was not part of the navy of the United States.

 

Before the press left the room, the President hinted - while reiterating the interest of his government in extending the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act - that he would express his doubts over the trade and anti-drug policies of the United States.

 

"The United States in its war on drugs, with all due respect, should have a more integrated vision, because certain isolated measures can be very counter-productive. There are many agriculturalists, many farmers and many land-holders who, thanks to ATPDEA, can export to the United States."

 

Moreover, he said that he didn't understand how it is that despite the fact that his country is the most effective in seizing narcotics, annual U.S. financial aid has dropped from $40 million to $7 million.

 

And during the private meeting, the Chief of State expressed his arguments for opposing the free trade policies of the U.S., which have been accepted by other countries such as Colombia, Chile and Peru.

 

He began by putting forward the government model that he wishes to implement. From that perspective, Correa elaborated on the views of Ecuador's government regarding the ATPDEA, the war on drugs and trade policies.

 

In a conversation with this newspaper, Minister of Defense Lorena Escudero said that Correa described the model of development and economic and political democracy that he is pursuing.

 

"In that context, he spoke of the necessity of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act ... supporting development projects, because people need jobs, as a way of combating illegal activities."

 

On this point, Minister Escudero explained that Plan Ecuador looks to mitigate the collateral effects of the armed conflict in Colombia by "development and peace as the way toward human security." This is the opposite of Plan Colombia which is financed by the United States, which prefers military solutions.

 

According to Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa, it was against this backdrop that discrepancies in the trade environment arose in the talks. Espinosa said she expressed to the visitors that, "Ecuador doesn't agree in the format and contents of the [U.S.-backed] Free Trade Agreement, but we do believe in creating predictable commercial accords of mutual benefit. We are inclined to initiate talks with the United States on this, and by all means, the result will be very different from what the U.S. was negotiating before."

 

That position represented a rejection of the objective of Negroponte's tour, which is to open channels of dialogue on the subject of trade. This was even more true, when the Correa government announced that it is studying the option of joining the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean, now comprised of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua. [The Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean is a rival trade deal championed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is a close ally of Ecuadorian President Correa].

 

NEXT STOP: LIMA

 

Even though the dispute over the UNITAS military maneuvers was not addressed in detail during the meeting, the U.S. delegation lamented the dispute sparked by a statement of Michael Greenwald, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Quito. Greenwald indicated that the "impasse" occurred because the U.S. doesn't recognize a 200-mile maritime boundary.

 

[Editor's Note: The exact quote from Greenwald was: "They're trying to argue in the international community that they have a 200-mile maritime boundary. Our long-standing position in the United States is that we support the internationally recognized 12-nautical mile territorial sea. It seems that the statement was a bit too blunt for the Negroponte delegation, so perhaps they wished to soften the blow by promising a different response later.]

 

Foreign Minister Espinosa said that this statement was "unfortunate," and indicated that the note of protest submitted to the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday followed the normal course, and eventually arrived in the hands of John Negroponte himself. His delegation said that an explanation would be provided.

 

At the end of the day by way of a government communiqué, Ecuador indicated that during the meeting, President Correa emphasized the bonds of friendship between his country and the United Sates, even recalling that he himself lived in the country for some four years.

 

In the evening, Negroponte held a briefing with certain members of the press - but it was not a full-blown press conference. The next stop on his tour is a visit to Lima. There he will meet with Peruvian government of Alan Garcia. He will later move on to Panama.

 

A group of activists from the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights held a symbolic protest over the presence of John Negroponte, staging a parody denouncing the abuses at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq.

 

Spanish Version Below

 

El Gobierno marca sus diferencias con Estados Unidos

 

Santiago Zeas

Las reservas del Ecuador a las políticas de libre comercio y de seguridad regional que auspicia EE.UU., así como el pedido de que se extiendan las preferencias arancelarias (Atpdea), marcaron la breve reunión de ayer entre el presidente Rafael Correa y el subsecretario del Departamento de Estado, John Negroponte.

Desde los entretelones de la cita, se evidenció cierta frialdad entre ambas comitivas, fruto de las recientes desavenencias a propósito del cambio repentino de la sede de las maniobras Unitas, así como la ambivalente posición ecuatoriana frente al Tratado Bilateral de Protección de Inversiones, que vence esta semana.

 

En el ala este del Salón de Gabinete de Carondelet, Negroponte, Thomas Shannon, secretario para la Oficina de Asuntos Hemisféricos, y la embajadora Linda Jewell debieron esperar algunos minutos hasta que llegara  el presidente Correa.

El saludo fue cordial, pero frío. Solo se registró un apretón de manos a pedido de la prensa gráfica. De inmediato Correa dio un mensaje formal de bienvenida al visitante. Sus palabras dejaron sentado que su gobierno marca distancias frente a ciertas políticas de la Casa Blanca que, supuestamente, afectan a la soberanía ecuatoriana. Sin mencionarlo, el Presidente  se refirió al roce ocasionado por la decisión del Comando Sur de retirar al Ecuador la sede los ejercicios navales Unitas. “Sean bienvenidos, Ecuador tiene un Gobierno profundamente amante de la democracia, de la libertad pero, al igual que los Estados Unidos, también de la soberanía”, dijo Correa quien el fin de semana dijo, a propósito de esos ejercicios, que la armada ecuatoriano no era parte de la Armada de los EE.UU.

Antes de que la prensa abandonase el salón, el Presidente brindó pistas de que expresaría sus reparos frente a la política comercial y antinarcóticos de EE.UU., cuando reiteró el interés de su gobierno de que se amplíe la Atpdea.

Estados Unidos en su lucha antidrogas, con todo respeto, debe tener una visión integral porque ciertas medidas aisladas pueden ser muy contraproducentes, ahí hay muchos agricultores, muchos campesinos, muchos tenedores de tierra que gracias a la Atpdea... pueden exportar a Estados Unidos”.

Es más, expresó que no comprendía cómo es que a pesar de que el país es el más efectivo en la incautación de narcóticos, la cooperación  de EE.UU. haya disminuido de 40 a 7 millones de dólares.

Ya durante la reunión privada, el Jefe de Estado expuso sus argumentos para oponerse al libre comercio estadounidense, que es aceptado  por otros países, como Chile, Perú y Colombia.

Empezó por exponer el modelo de gobierno que desea impulsar. Desde esta perspectiva, Correa profundizó en las visiones  del  Gobierno ecuatoriano frente al Atpdea, la lucha antidrogas y las políticas comerciales.

En diálogo con este Diario, Lorena Escudero, ministra de Defensa, indicó que Correa expuso   el modelo de desarrollo y de democracia económica y política que  persigue. “En ese contexto, se habló de la necesidad de la Atpdea... apoyando acciones de desarrollo, porque la gente necesita empleo,
como una forma de combatir las actividades ilícitas”.

En ese punto, la ministra Escudero explicó que el Plan
Ecuador  busca mitigar los efectos colaterales del conflicto armado colombiano, a travésdel desarrollo y la paz, como el camino para la seguridad humana”. Esta es una tendencia opuesta al Plan Colombia, financiado por EE.UU., que privilegia aspectos militares .

En este contexto, llegaron las discrepancias en el ámbito comercial, según informó la canciller María Fernanda Espinosa. La diplomática dijo que durante la cita se expresó que
Ecuador no comulga con formatos y contenidos de tratados de libre comercio, pero creemos en acuerdos comerciales predecibles y de mutuo beneficio y sobre esto estamos dispuestos a iniciar conversaciones con EE.UU. y, por supuesto, el resultado será muy diferente a lo que Estados Unidos estaba negociando antes”.

Esa posición significó un revés al objetivo de la gira de Negroponte que buscaba abrir canales de diálogo a partir de asuntos comerciales. Más aún, cuando el gobierno de Correa ha anunciado que estudia la opción de sumarse a la ALBA de Venezuela,
Cuba, Bolivia y Nicaragua.

Próxima parada: Lima

Aunque el roce por las maniobras Unitas no fue tratado detalladamente en la reunión, la comitiva de EE.UU. lamentó las declaraciones de Michael Greenwald, agregado de prensa de la Embajada en
Quito. El funcionario dijo que el ‘impasse’ se dio porque EE.UU. no reconoce las 200 millas como mar territorial.
 
La canciller Espinosa  dijo que esas declaraciones fuerondesafortunadas”. Señaló que la nota de protesta remitida el martes a la Embajada seguirá su curso normal, hasta que llegue a las manos
del propio John Negroponte. La misión dijo que realizará la aclaración respectiva.

Al final de la jornada,a través de un comunicado, el Gobierno ecuatoriano señaló que durante la reunión Rafael Correa subrayó los lazos de amistad con EE.UU. Incluso recordó que durante cuatro años vivió en ese país.

Por la tarde, Negroponte sostuvo un conversatorio con ciertos medios de comunicación, mas no una rueda de prensa. La siguiente escala de su gira es Lima. Allí se reunirá con el gobierno peruano de Alan García. Posteriormente se desplazará hasta Panamá.
 
Un grupo de activistas de la Asamblea Permanente de DD.HH. realizó una protesta simbólica por la presencia de John Negroponte. Escenificaron una parodia por las denuncias de abusos a los reos  de Guantánamo e
Iraq.

 

 

 


















In Quito, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa appears to look aver U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, just before rejecting just about every request of Washington that Negroponte was there to deliver, on May 9. Negroponte's past makes him an individual of great suspicion in some quarters of Latin America - particlularly amongst left-leaning leaders.

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: President Bush praises the support of Colombia, as protest are quelled by a 'massive' police presence, Mar. 12, 00:02:06RealVideo





President Rafael Correa listens to Negroponte, after which the Ecuadorian President stuck by his decisions to end a reciprocal investment treaty with the U.S, not renew leases for the U.S. to use an Ecuadorian air base, pull out of the IMF and World Bank and not participate in U.S.-led military exercises.


The insignia for UNITAS 2007, an annual U.S.-led militray exercise with Latin American allies. Ecuador has withdrwn from the Exercises.





Negroponte meets woth Peru's President, Alan Garcia at the Government Palace in Lima, May 10. Garci was much more amenable to U.S. concerns than Ecuador's Correa.