September 15, update
– Dry, dry season
– No mining news is good news?
– Very disturbing rumors
– Political climate check and… welcome to scandalville
– Get Ready, the Chinese are coming!
Dry, dry season.
One of the driest seasons on record in most of Ecuador. So far eight provinces have declared States of Emergencies – including our Imbabura- due to the hundreds of fires affecting cities as well as rural areas. Quito and surroundings has been specially affected. All fires have been set intentionally.
Intag is also undergoing a severe dry season, and fires set to prepare land to plant corn and renew pastures are now affecting native forests. All Parish governments are reporting problems with the fires (yet none are doing squat about it). Unfortunately, the Ministry of the Environment is doing nothing whatsoever about the situation here- not even investing in talks or radio program. DECOIN is financing the airing of 10 radio clips on the issue. We are hoping more organizations and local governments also do their share (by the way, we are about the only organization financing the operation of the radio–PLEASE donate if you want the radio to continue)
No mining news is good news?
Happily we have no hard news to report regarding the mining madness. However, an organization out of Guayaquil, Sambito S.A. Has been showing up in a lot of places lately asking to be allowed to do botanical studies; including within the Junin community reserve- and very close to the mining site. They say they have an agreement with the Minister of the Environment to do foresty studies This same outfit does environmental impacts studies for mining companies, however. So far, they have been turned back on three occasions by communities, but they keep insisting.
Very disturbing rumors.
(check back in a day or two)
Political climate check and welcome to scandalville
New elections in February and it’s hard to keep track of the scandals associated to the government and to the election process. The latest one has to do with hundreds of thousands of falsified signatures affecting the legality of several (all opposition) parties. Two of those opposition parties; the MPD and Pachacutic were already accepted as legitimate by the elections authorities, then later were told that tens of thousands of the their signatures were false, and unless they get the required signatures by the 24th of this month, that they will not be able to participate in the elections. Both parties have been participating in elections for decades. Main opposition leaders are accusing the Election Commission of being manipulated by the Executive. Correa’s party did not scape the scandal, however, and over 120,000 falsified signatures detected by the pro-government election Commission, but since the government party had plenty of extra signatures, it will not effect their ability to participate in the election. One of the many sub-scandals related to this is that there is a campaign (written papers) warning people not to give their signature to any party, which obviously will affect the opposition party trying to get new signatures. Alberto Acosta, a close ex-ally of Correa and co-founder of Correa’s Allianz Pais party, is now the leading opposition candidate, and just about all of the parties on the left have united, as never before in Ecuadorian history, to support a single candidate against Correa. He is opposed to large-scale mining and actually has a very good chance of wining- if the government keeps from playing too dirty (and THAT, dear readers is a very big IF)
The Chucky Seven… The above is just one of the numerous (and growing) scandals lately affecting this government. One of the more troublesome scandal has to do with the 40 million dollar decision in favor of Correa suppossedly given to the judge in finished form.
Correa sued the owners of Ecuador’s largest newspaper for, El Universo, for frankly, I forget exactly what- there have been so many lawsuits against journalists and newspapers by this government. Ok, I remember now, it was for libel; apparently one of the articles their paper published contained something nasty about Correa (can you imagine a journalist saying something nasty about a polititian????). The author of the article is exiled in Miami*, as he was also sued and faced several years in jail for writing it (If you are wondering whether this is the same government that recently gave Julian Assange asylum, you would be 100% right)
To make a very long and interesting story short, the owners of the paper sued the judge that ruled against them an in Correa’s favor, and had indisputable evidence that someone outside the court system, using a computer with the nickname Chucky Seven, had written the full court decision. There have been allegations that it was Correa’s defense lawyer who drew up the decision for the presiding judge. The judge overseeing the case against this partial judge threw it out for no real reason. I think in the end he the new judge claimed that there was nothing illegal in a judge using a pre-written decision!!!! The defense lawyers said they’ll take it to international tribunals.
**Miami is also the city where one of Correa’s closest collaborator and current head of the Central Bank (and o happens to be Corra’s cousin) recently bought a home. Correa himself has an apartment in Brussels. Yes, folks, this is the government of the People’s Revolution, who despise the imperialistic north (North except for China, that is).
Get Ready the Chinese are Coming!!
The government of Ecuador seems to be enthralled by the Chinese these days. They recently declared that they are ready for the Chinese to help them with infrastructure projects. This is besides the petroleum and mining companies that are already installed in the country (recently, a new Chinese company expressed interest in acquiring another mining company in Zamora Chinchipe). The Chinese are also funding and working on the two biggest hydroelectric projects, and have shown interest in helping Ecuador with a very large petrochemical plant on the coast (12 billion $ worth). The announcement of the infrastructure interest came not too long after the largest bridge in Northern China collapsed 9 months after its inauguration. The announcement also coincided, to the day, of denouncements made public by Ecuadorian employees working for the two hydroelectric projects of poor treatment (abuse for some)!!! As I’ve mentioned before, the Chinese have money up their ying-yang, and need copper and petroleum (and regional presence). Ecuador needs money, since most international lending institutions don’t want to lend them money for past payment defaults. Currently Ecuador owes China about 8 billion $, which they are paying back mostly with petroleum (at 7% interest)