Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa Seems to Want All US Government Programs Out of His Country

According to The Latin American Tribune, Ecuador's government has told the US Agency for International Development (USAID) that it will not renew its agreements with the South American country, according a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

The November 26, 2013 letter sent to the US Embassy in Quito says, the "USAID must not execute any new activity," nor widen any existing projects in Ecuador.

Gabriela Rosero of Ecuador's international cooperation agency, who signed the letter addressed to USAID program officer Christopher M. Cushing, said in a subsequent interview with the AP that the agency must leave Ecuador by September 30, 2014.

COMMENT: President Correa suggested in December that the USAID's programs were no longer welcome in Ecuador, saying on one of his regular Saturday programs on television and radio that "we don't need charity."

Bilateral relations have been less than cozy since Correa assumed power in 2007.

Ecuador expelled two US Embassy officials in 2009, accusing them of interfering in the country's internal affairs.

Correa's government ordered the US Embassy's military group, a unit amounting to 20 Defense Department employees, to leave Ecuador by the end of April this year.

The anti-drug unit at the mission, which is not connected to the DEA, has been notified that it has to leave Ecuador by September 2014.

Embassy spokesman Jeffrey Weinshenker said that the US government had worked with Ecuador for more 60 years to deliver "more than $800 million in development aid that had enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ecuadoreans."

According to US Embassy reports, USAID in Ecuador had a $15 million budget for fiscal year 2013.