Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ecuador's gutsy "stick it"

MGR's view - Ecuador flips the bird at U.S.

Guadalajara -
Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is an easy guy to not like. Or at least to make fun of. But don't underestimate the leader of the 15 million strong Amerindian nation on South America's Pacific coast. He's nobody's fool.

President Correa is actually Dr. Correa. He holds a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, both awarded in Economics, a very demanding discipline. He holds another Master's degree from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. If you don't have a Ph.D. certificate hanging on your wall, ask someone who does. It's not easy to earn.

Correa is a hothead, to be sure. During the September 30, 2010 National Police coup d'état (I use the term liberally), Correa marched into police headquarters in Quito, ripped open his white dress shirt and screamed, Mátenme! - Kill me! I don't recommend doing the same, should you have the misfortune of finding yourself caught up in a Latin revolution. But Correa did, and he survived without a scratch.

This week many inside the Belt Way have gleefully taken turns using president Correa as a whipping boy. The overbearing, loud mouthed Republican representative from Florida for instance, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who never shuts up long enough to listen to anybody else. She's too busy selling a bill of goods to her Cuban-heavy constituency, trying to convince them that any day now, they'll be on the next plane to Havana to recover homes and businesses seized by the Castro brothers 54 years ago. That's not going to happen, of course. Now she's threatening Ecuador. The congresswoman would better serve her country by working towards an exchange of the Miami Four (imprisoned in the U.S. since 1998) for convicted USAID smuggler Alan Gross, who has been cooling his heels in a Havana lockup since 2009. It's time for everybody to go home, and one man could do it today.

Then there was U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who's been busy warning Correa and Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro about the terrible consequences if they welcome Edward Snowden. Busy, that is, until Russian president Vladimir Putin made Kerry look like a schoolboy standing low before a Jesuit Prefect of Discipline (yes, I do remember that experience). Never mess with a guy who holds a 6th dan in judo, by the way.

Finally, there was the usually staid Washington Post, which on Monday ran an editorial dripping with sarcasm and jingoistic bombast. Minions locked away in the bowels of the Post labored mightily, and put forth a piece reading more like a State Dept. press release, warning the Ecuadorian president of dire economic consequences - so-called bread-and-butter threats. Correa told them where to stick it.

I'm under no illusions. I know president Correa is light years from perfect. His record on freedom of the press is nothing short of abysmal, and I have acknowledged so. But it was refreshing this morning to see that Dr. Correa - the economist - put his and his nation's money where his unrepentant mouth is. Ecuador unilaterally cancels beneficial trade pact with U.S.

I like Rafael Correa. He's got a pair. Huevos, cojones, whatever you want to call them, far too many American pols lack them. Including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

July 4 - Nicolás Maduro rejects U.S. request on Snowden
July 4 - Mexico solidly backs Bolivia on Evo Morales grounding
July 2 - U.S. likely to have more troubles with Bolivia, after aircraft carrying Morales is forced down
May 1, 2013 - Bolivian president Morales expels "subversive" USAID

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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