Celebrating Correa’s Re-election 94


I am going to an election party in the Ecuador Embassy on Sunday. I shall do so with no sense of guilt. Since Correa gave political asylum to Assange, many with no record of concern for human rights in Ecuador – and who still show absolutely no concern for human rights in Bahrain or Uzbekistan – are suddenly immensely critical of Correa’s human rights record. Many of the same people are suddenly concerned for the appalling plight of rape victims, despite no track record whatsoever of concern for women’s rights.

No country in the world has a perfect human rights record. I am sitting in a country which recently incarcerated people in Belmarsh jail in solitary confinement for six years without informing them what the accusations were against them. Which shot dead a Brazilian electrician on the tube for looking a bit like an Arab. Where police beat one of Babar Ahmad’s eyes to blindness. Where a woman was jailed for reading out the names of Iraqi war dead at the cenotaph.

Ecuador is not perfect either, and the use of (pre-existing) criminal defamation laws against journalists is unequivocally wrong. But some of the criticisms are a bit rich, for example that the government appoints judges. Who on earth do you think appoints them in the UK? And the study of the political complexion of the Supremem Court as vacancies occur under different Presidents is an industry itself in the United States. If Assange goes to Sweden, he will be tried without a jury by a panel of three, two of whom are straight and unqualified appointees by political parties.

Of course all human rights abuse, and particularly in Ecuador free speech restraint, should be, must be, eliminated. But I am very impressed indeed by Correa’s achievement in forcing the multinationals to pay up a fair share to the nation for their exploitation of mineral resources, and then in applying that money to the benefit of ordinary Ecuadoreans.

I see the opposite in Ghana, and its devastating effect on ordinary people. Ghana is the fastest growing economy in the world, at an annual rate of over 20%. But tragically little of that benefits ordinary Ghanaians. Newmont Mining of the USA make income of over 1.5 billion dollars a year from gold mining in Ghana, wreaking huge environmental destruction, and pay not one cent in corporation tax, and indeed very little tax of any kind. The total amount of the income from the huge Jubilee Field oil discovery which in any way will actually benefit Ghanaians will be a maximum of 15% – the rest is entirely offshore.

I hope that, throughout the developing world, peoples will force their governments to follow the Ecuadorean path. It has the potential fundamentally to change the world for billions of people. I shall be at the Ecuadorean Embassy on Sunday.

Without shame.


94 thoughts on “Celebrating Correa’s Re-election

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  • glenn_uk

    That’s another pretty penny of taxpayers’ dollars the US has just wasted, trying unsuccessfully to meddle in the elections of yet another country.

  • skipjack

    what happened to the western plot to throw the election to make sure correa didn’t get in and implant a government that would withdraw assange’s asylum that you wrote about?

  • Mary

    Raise a glass* on our behalf to Ecuador, President Correa, Ana Albán Mora their Ambassador in Hans Crescent and to Julian.

    Saw this earlier linked on Medialens by Joe Emersberger.
    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/cepr-paper-on-ecuadors-financial-reforms-helps-explain-why-voters-likely-to-re-elect-correa

    *
    Aguardiente, a kind of herbal vodka/gin made from sugar, consumed straight, or in a mixed drink

    Cachaça, a sugar rum, most popular drink from this is very similar to a mojito

    Pisco, a kind of brandy, very yummy in a pisco sour cocktail

    🙂

  • Herbie

    How refreshing to see again that rare creature at The Guardian, a writer who does detail, knows what he’s talking about and more importantly doesn’t claim to be bored by his material. Perhaps he could spare some time to give Marina, Amelia and the other flippertygibbets a few lessons.

    Why Ecuador loves Rafael Correa

    “It’s not luck but good financial judgment that has set the president on the path to victory in forthcoming elections”

    “Correa has had some bad press for going against the conventional wisdom and – perhaps worse in the eyes of the business press – succeeding. The worst media assault came when Ecuador offered asylum to WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange. But here, as with economic policy and financial reform, Correa was right. It was obvious, especially after the UK government made an unprecedented threat to invade Ecuador’s embassy, that this was a case of political persecution. How rare, and refreshing, for a politician to stand firm against such powerful forces – the US and its allies in Europe, and in the international media – for the sake of principle. But Correa’s tenacity and courage has served his country well.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/15/rafael-correa-ecuador-elections

  • Villager

    “I hope that, throughout the developing world, peoples will force their governments to follow the Ecuadorean path. It has the potential fundamentally to change the world for billions of people.”

    Ecuador and Correa are a good, fortunate combination for each other, rare in the developing world.

    He is young, well-educated, charismatic with a depth of personality, with an apparently good grasp of economics incorporating a genuine concern for improving the lot of his people. And he is courageous.

    Ecuador, with its 15 million people is a relatively small and manageable population for a developing country, with a fair literacy rate to boot, reasonably blessed with natural resources. Its literacy rate is way higher than countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and probably most of the Middle East and Africa.

    Good matches are hard to find, but i agree with your sentiments. Don’t people usually deserve better than they are able to find or get?

  • Mary

    Craig linked to a HRW piece by Tom Malinowski,

    With a CV like this, is his opinion worth anything? Tainted by association I would say.

    Tom Malinowski Washington Director

    Tom Malinowski, Washington Director for Human Rights Watch and an expert in United States foreign policy, is responsible for the organization’s overall advocacy efforts with the US government. He frequently appears as a radio, television, and op-ed commentator on US human rights policy. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Malinowski was special assistant to President Bill Clinton and senior director for foreign policy speechwriting at the National Security Council. Before working in the White House, he was a speechwriter for Secretaries of State Christopher and Albright and a member of the State Department’s policy planning staff. Malinowski holds degrees in political science from the University of California, Berkeley and Oxford University.

    ~~~~
    What the contributors to Medialens think of Malinowski, Roth and Galasco.
    http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1356890451.html

  • Arbed

    I wonder if the voters giving Correa a 50% lead in the polls miss not having a “free press” like we have here in the UK…?

    Party down, Craig!

  • Villager

    Nice one, Arbed! 🙂

    Yes this superiority and inferiority amongst nations has to stop, just like amongst some peoples in conflict…

    But i’m afraid, its people that are going to have to change (an internal human revolution), before we can expect our leaders to change. Personally i don’t have much faith in the collective if the ground they stand on is not fertile. The web can of course be a great facilitator.

    Here’s an interesting and unusual presentation at the UN from 1985. Unsurprisingly, not much has changed:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fzV8QH1JeE

    (Forgive me if you’ve seen this before as i have linked it earlier, but it fits fit the aspirations that Craig refers to.)

  • Arbed

    Villager,

    Oh, I’m all for Human Revolution of the inner kind. A change of heart in a single individual can change the world – just ask Mr Mandela, Mr Gandhi, Mr Luther-King – because a change of heart ripples out, inspires others, is contagious…

  • Villager

    Thank you, Arbed and yes statesmen, as opposed to your regular politician can make a difference. And yes there aren’t enough real statesmen in the whole big bad world today to count on the fingers of one-hand….this is an open challenge to all to counter-propose.

    What i’m referring to, in the context of Craig’s ‘hope’ (personally i don’t believe in hope) is that each one of us needs to be a light unto oneself and yes it can be contagious in the sense that it could begin to change the content of human consciousness. One may then reach a critical mass of a tipping-point where we can live in a truly humane way. I can’t remember where i read today….Earth is probably some other planet’s hell!

    If you’re interested, you may want to watch this interview with the accomplished journalist Bernard Levin:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1AvljMbU8c

    if you do, suggest you do watch the whole half hour.

    I’m afraid one can’t rely on statesmen any more than one can on the New Statesman (what a superficially supercilious title!). As much as we need them in politics. But then life is not divorced from politics–its a lot larger.

  • Arbed

    No, no Villager – you have completely misunderstood me. Before any of those three names I tossed in there came to be considered a Statesman, they were each just an ordinary human being – no different to you or I – and it’s at that stage that they experienced their ‘change of heart’, the inner Human Revolution as I like to call it, which led them to fight for the values they believed in, and to ultimately win over the world to those values.

    That’s what I meant. I am referring to exactly the same thing as you are in your second paragraph – I just used those names to show how spectacularly successful it can be. You or I could do the same. Mandela, Gandhi, King – they weren’t Gods or Statesmen to start with, they were ordinary human beings – just ones who listened to their hearts, and fought accordingly.

  • Tom Welsh

    I will always adore Correa for that wonderful statement that the USA can have an air base in Ecuador if Ecuador can have one in the USA.

    It’s so obviously absurd that you have to laugh. Then you wonder why it’s absurd, Then you start to think a lot.

  • Indigo

    “But I am very impressed indeed by Correa’s achievement in forcing the multinationals to pay up a fair share to the nation for their exploitation of mineral resources, and then in applying that money to the benefit of ordinary Ecuadoreans”.

    And long may he succeed.

    Multinationals in ex-colonial companies have tried not to pay tax ever since the end of Empire and it’s only now that some countries try to stand up for their rights (Sorry Bob).

    Having been a resident of Jamaica when Michael Manley did his level best to make Reynolds, Kaiser, Alcan et al actually pay some and seen where that led him I don’t, sadly, have much hope. But perhaps Manley was before his time and leaders in these countries today will, like Correa, happily surprise us all.

  • Cryptonym

    Smile Jamaica: even musicians who supported Michael Manley, were targetted for assassination.

  • craig Post author

    Arbed

    Its just a troll posting under other people’s names. Deleted them for that reason, though some of the questions would have been perfectly valid and allowed had he not wanted to pretend to be other commenters.

  • Arbed

    MODS!!!!!!

    Somebody has hacked the thread. Comment under my name at 11.20pm isn’t me either.

    Ok, signing off now. Jon, please remove all posts with my name after 11 o’clock except for the one at 11.17 (and remove that one too if you think that riposte is in poor taste.)

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Note to the Eminences : instead of obsessing about me, you’d do better to worry about the people posting (falsely) as Craig and Arbed (see various posts, above).

    ********

    La vita è bella, life is good! (and will be even better once the false posters are dealt with)

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    OK, problem apparently dealt with; you can delete mine (23h29) too as redundant if you wish.

    Good night all.

  • resident dissident

    I would be a little cautious of placing all your eggs in the Correa basket. As Craig quite rightly points out his use of defamation laws against journalists leaves a lot to be desired – and as the referenced article in Guardian points out there are some to the left of Correa who have identified dictatorial tendencies in Correa, not just those on the political right. I genuinely hope that does not come to pass – but shining a light on Correa’s less acceptable behaviours (as I thought used to be the original objective of Wikileaks with regards to all politicians whatever their political postion) is no bad thing whatsoever.

    If I were in Team Assange I might also want to read and think about this attached article
    http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Content?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/elcano/elcano_in/zonas_in/garcia-encina_malamud_correa_assange_rusi

    It demonstrates that Correa is at times prepared to work with the US when he sees it as being in Ecuador’s interest and that he hasn’t always been as keen on Wikileaks and Assange as might be imagined. I somehow doubt that the usual treatment doled out by Team Assange to those who become apostates will carry out much weight with Correa should he see Ecuador’s interests as laying elsewhere.

    I should also add that the Gambier solution mentioned in the article might also be a way out of the Assange impasse – although I suspect that progress in that direction will only be possible by quiet diplomacy rather than the usual techniques of Team Assange.

    Indigo – again be a little wary, perhaps Correa is swapping one set of multinationals for another. The Chinese may have a different approach and business model to western corporates but it is not always as beneficial for the local population as you might think.

    BTW I have a long interest in human rights having been a member of Amnesty for over 20 years and was even a member of the United Nations Association as a schoolboy. I have also worked in Uzbekistan but stopped doing so when Karimov’s human rights abuses came to light which was well before Craig accepted his position as Ambassador there.

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