“Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted… but to weigh and consider.”
I read today in the Guardian UK (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/27/ecuador-us-trade-pact-edward-snowden?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2) that Ecuador has waived preferential trade rights with Washington over the Edward Snowden affair even as the whistleblower’s prospect of reaching Quito seem dim. These preferential trade rights are contained in what is called The Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (TATPDEA).
The ATPDEA agreement was initially signed by President George H.W. Bush in December 1991, allowing the countries involved to sell goods to the USA without paying import duties. It was designed to boost trade between the U.S. and Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru and ‘fight drug trafficking’.
The waiving of preferential trade rights followed threats from members of the US congress to drop the ATPA in July, when it is due for renewal, unless Ecuador toed the line on Snowden and refused to grant him asylum. The calculation that lay behind the decision has to do with the fact that even before Snowden ‘came out’, the Ecuadorian government feared losing the trade preferences with the US; this due to the fact that the ruling class in the US is trying to destroy Ecuador and its popular government by damaging its economy, among other things.
According to the Guardian, Michael Shifter, of the Inter-American Dialogue stated:
“The Ecuadorans got word that renewal of ATPDEA was a long shot in any case, so instead of waiting for rejection, they took the initiative and the high road” (ibid).
There is no doubt that losing the trade preferences with the US, which exclude thousands of products such as roses, tuna and broccoli from export duty will affect the Ecuadorian economy. Ecuador is second largest trade partner with the US next to Colombia of the above nations.
Ramiro Crespo, director general of Analytica Investments, a Quito-based consultancy stated:
“This will have serious consequence for Ecuadorean producers. “These products which are exported to the United States have become major industries in Ecuador. If commerce is restricted there’s going to be unemployment … This does not penalize the government, it penalizes the people” (ibid).
According to Cristian Espinosa, executive director of the Quito-based Ecuadorian-American Chamber of Commerce More than 50% of Ecuador’s exports go to the USA. In a statement right after the cancellation of the TATPDEA, Espinosa stated:
“The U.S. is our main trading partner. We’ve been trying for years to make this relationship richer and deeper. When we see political events that might hinder our work, we of course are … concerned. We hope that these political events do not affect trade because both countries benefit a lot from bilateral trade” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/06/27/ecuador-us-trade-relations-snowden/2462687/).
The main export product is oil, $5.4 billion worth of which was exported to the USA last year under the terms of the pact. But the second largest export is cut flowers — a whopping $166 million sold to the USA alone. Fruits, vegetables and tuna also are covered by the agreement. In total, the exports were worth $9.5 billion last year, according to the U.S. government (ibid).
Ecuador will have no problem selling oil to other countries to make up the $5.4 billion dollar shortfall from the US. The issue is the squeeze on its other exports to the US.
It is true that around a quarter of a million people depend on the cut flower import sector, with 100,000 directly employed by it. Royal Flowers (http://www.royalflowersecuador.com/) stated that the new duty on cut flowers could price Ecuadorian roses out of the US marketplace (ibid).
So then what is really going on?
The issues arising out of the Snowden affair are cause for concern. On one side President Rafael Correa’s government said it was renouncing the Andean Trade Preference Act to thwart US “blackmail” of Ecuador in the former NSA contractor’s asylum request.
Fernando Alvarado, the communications secretary for Ecuador stated on June 27, 2013 when the agreement was cancelled:
“Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, nor does it trade with principles or submit them to mercantile interests, however important those may be. “Ecuador gives up unilaterally and irrevocably the said customs benefits” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/27/ecuador-us-trade-pact-edward-snowden?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2).
However, no request by Snowden has been granted, contrary to reports.
The renunciation of the TATPDEA has now created divisions within Ecuador’s government between those who have embraced Snowden as an anti-imperialist symbol and the business community who wishes to profit off the export economy and overthrow Correa.
But there is more:
Many officials of the ruling class in the United States have argued that the United States fears that Ecuador may become a sanctuary country for whistleblowers and it is seeking to damage the Ecuadorian economy in hopes of toppling president Rafael Correa.
By seeking to cause divisions in the country’s population between those who support Correa and the ruling elites in Ecuador who have worked to topple his newly elected government, the US hopes to cause revolutionary violence, the overthrow of the government and thus place Ecuador squarely in the “backyard of the US” where it has been prior to the Correan government. The US press is full of propaganda regarding this news stating that the poor workers will be hurt by Correa’s cancellation of the TATPDEA. They look to put the blame squarely on the Ecuadorian president’s shoulders, which of course is designed to create a popular uprising.
As I have documented and as Julian Assange has noted, Ecuador was a client state of the US for decades and notably during the Kissinger years in the 1970’s. This all changed in late 1970’s (http://www.dailycensored.com/americas-backyard-new-reports-on-ecuador-by-wikileaks/). Read John Perkin’s book: “confessions of an Economic Hitman” for more.
Jaime Roldós Aguilera took office as Ecuadorian president on August 10th, 1979 in a democratically led election after years of dictatorships. Roldos’ was loved by the Ecuadorian people after having to live under the yoke of semi-feudal dictatorships fostered by the US, the Rockefellers, The United Fruit Company, US Tuna entrepreneurs and other bourgeoisie interests. His major accomplishment was his struggle for human rights for Ecuador at a time when Latin American governments were under the thumb of military dictatorships supported and in some cases, placed into power by the CIA (ibid).
Roldos had met with the democratically elected governments of Venezuela, Colombia and Peru at the time and proposed the signing of The Charter of Conduct, in which the principles of universal justice and human rights were too be established. He also formed ties with the new Sandinista government and the Democratico Frente from El Salvador (http://www.wattpad.com/1240500-cia-hit-list-jaime-rold%C3%B3s-aguilera-president-of#.UYp6AUrYHgw). These actions no doubt sealed his fate.
On May 24, 1981 Roldos also died in an “unexplained’ airplane crash, along with his wife and Minister of Defense, right in “America’s Backyard”. This is the policy that the despicable Secretary of State John Kerry says he now continues to support. The death of Hugo Chavez should give rise to suspicions that the CIA is still an active participant in the “backyard’ (http://www.dailycensored.com/americas-backyard-new-reports-on-ecuador-by-wikileaks/).
Correa takes office in 2007
Rafael Correa was elected democratically as president of Ecuador in 2007. His election was a great defeat not just for US imperialism, but also for the Ecuadorian bourgeoisie (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/18/ecuador-election-rafael-correa-victory).
Not long after his election and the creation of new economic policies designed to lift the Ecuadorian people out of poverty, on September 30, 2010 a Honduran style coup was almost pulled off in Ecuador (http://www.dailycensored.com/honduran-style-coup-almost-pulled-off-in-ecuador/). Known in the country as 30S, the coup was initiated by rogue police. Correa was tear-gassed and rushed to a Quito hospital while troops put down the CIA backed rebellion.
But the hammering away by the CIA and their merchant ambassadors never stopped.
Charges there is no freedom of press or expression in Ecuador
Recently, on May 5th, 2013 the Head of State, Rafael Correa, criticized the foreign ambassador from the US who had joined a group of opposition journalists seeking to position the thesis in this tiny country of Ecuador, that there is no freedom of expression in the media. In the past, current US Ambassador Adam Namm said Ecuador had a lot of freedom of expression, but this has all changed now.
In May, Namm was at a location where he helped create a mural in which opposition journalists and the same ambassador then wrote messages in alleged defense of freedom of press in Ecuador. This was organized by the Union of National Journalists (UNP) in the lower its headquarters in north Quito, the capital. ”The only security of all is the free press” wrote Namm (www.eltelegrafo.com..ec).
The building that houses the UNP also has organizational offices for the government Fundamedios, which is funded by the US State Department and is responsible for issuing alerts against alleged attacks on journalists. It appears it is a nest of intelligence activities. Namm, who presented his letters of credentials on June 21, 2012 to then Vice President Lenin Moreno, in an interview with The Telegraph published on July 23, 2012, admitted at the time that Ecuador received funding from Fundamedios in the country ($ 300,000 in the last year), and through USAID but he stated that “there is much freedom of expression in Ecuador” (http://www.dailycensored.com/honduran-style-coup-almost-pulled-off-in-ecuador/).
The participation of the Ambassador Namm on May 3rd of this year in the mural writing and calls for more Ecuadorian freedom of the press coincides with another order placed this week by a U.S. official and the Human Rights Foundation calling for the protection three Ecuadorian journalists who are allegedly placed in danger: Janet Hinojosa, Martin Pallares and Miguel Rivadeneira (http://www.humanrightsecuador.org/2013/05/03/u-s-asks-to-protect-journalists-pallares-hinojosa-and-rivadeneira/).
What most do not know is that a group of U.S. foreign correspondents founded the CPJ in 1981, right after the election of Ronald Reagan and two years after the revolution in Nicaragua and the creation of the US backed Contras. CPJ’s board of directors has included in the past such prominent US journalists as Christiane Amanpour, Tom Brokaw, Anne Garrels, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Gwen Ifill, Jane Kramer, Anthony Lewis, Dave Marsh, Kati Marton, Michael Massing, Victor Navasky, Andres Oppenheimer, Clarence Page, Norman Pearlstine, Dan Rather, John Seigenthaler, and Mark Whitaker. Many of these journalists have worked for years directly with the CIA and to cover-up CIA maltreatment and shenanigans in “America’s Backyard”; one can only wonder if the group is itself a front for the CIA.
We also know that Human Rights Watch has been CIA connected. According to its website:
“The Moscow Helsinki Watch Group spawned ‘human rights’ groups in Eastern European capitals. Typically, Western countries pronounced themselves quite beyond the need of such patronizing supervision Spawned directly from the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group in Eastern Europe Capitals in 1988” (http://www.hrw-watch.com/).
And in its rhetoric, found at the same website it proclaims:
“Human Rights Watch descended directly from these NGOs that poked about in the Soviet Union’s nether regions. Its New York base probably reflects its old CIA affiliations (ibid, emphasis mine) (http://www.dailycensored.com/is-the-cia-behind-attacks-on-ecuadors-press-correa-warns-us-ambassador-namm-dont-be-a-meddler/).
In this context, it is difficult to take seriously these groups’ complaints that President Correa’s public criticism of the media is a human rights violation. Especially when these groups never take a swipe at the corporate media in the US which conceals more than it reveals and works in tandem with the CIA to suppress and manipulate news both home and abroad. To prove the point, Correa recently called out the hypocritical corporate sock-puppet press in the case of CNN (http://www.dailycensored.com/center-for-constitutional-rights-denounces-media-silence-a-former-cnn-journalist-confirms-the-manufacture-of-information/) over its censorship of news from Guantanamo.
The fact is that these so-called human rights organizations grossly exaggerate and misrepresent what is going on in Ecuador and in doing so they undermine their own credibility – even if they can get away with it in the mainstream US media. And as UK Guardian reporter, Weisbrot correctly notes, it is equally disturbing that they cannot find the courage – as more independent human rights defenders, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, have done – to defend a journalist who is currently being persecuted by the government of the United States and its allies.
So what is the US doing now in light of Edward Snowden?
The US is using the Snowden case to further hammer away at the democratically elected government of Ecuador and stir up more hatred and divisions they can then try to pin on Correa in an international ‘incident’. While continuing to foster the notion that Ecuador has no freedom of expression, a bold face lie (I recently attended an all day forum by indigenous aghast and opposed at Correa’s mining policies; I also have met with many Ecuadorians who have no reservations about talking about Correa, good or bad; and more recently there was a demonstration downtown in Cotacachi where Marxist groups came out boldly against Correa and his policies with China without one incident or arrest), the US is now using the cancellation of the The Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (TATPDEA) as a pretense to foment unrest within the country through the creation of social and economic divisions and fear.
But will it work? It is doubtful and improbable for one reason: Correa has such strong ties with China through mining and resource extraction, along with trade and debt that the Chinese will most likely make up any difference in the loss of any monies from the squelching of the TATPDEA. China has a vested interest in mineral extraction and now has as many mining deals in Ecuador as they have American dollars in their economic closets.
Correa knows this. This is no doubt why he stood up to the US government in recently cancelling the TATPDEA which would have been cancelled anyway by the US ruling class’ hand-picked politicians in Washington.
The problem is that if Ecuador becomes even more reliant on China, then mineral extraction, petroleum extraction and dependency on a new imperial power, China could be the result.
What about an Ecuadorian Embargo?
Another question being put forth is, “Could there be an embargo of Ecuador like, say, Cuba?” Could be but this is unlikely. For Russia, China, Latin America and the Caribbean are all on the side of Ecuador. Any embargo would be futile for America and cause even more hatred for the flailing empire. However, even though irrational this could be a possibility. The military industrial complex is capable of anything but unlike Cuba, the world has changed and Ecuador is neither Nicaragua nor Cuba. Add to this the precarious situation of the US and an embargo may be possible, but truly absurd.
However, this does lead one to question regarding the whole Snowden affair
I have been speaking with many Ecuadoreans who are asking:
“Is the case of Edward Snowden a false flag case? Is Snowden really a hero who has leaked vital information to the US people and the world? Is he viable (I was asked today by an astute Ecuadorian) or is he really still working for the NSA and CIA?” These are not my questions but those of many Ecuadorians of good faith. They simply do not trust the US.
These are all fair questions and they must be critically examined. With the murder and death in March by forces from the American government of Hugo Chavez this year and given the fact that Bolivia’s President Evo Morales recently celebrated International Workers Day (May 1) by expelling the US Agency for International Development (USAID), whom he accused of operating under US State Department auspices (read CIA) and thus of seeking to “conspire against” the Bolivian people and his government, calls on all critically thinking people to question the entire Snowden affair (http://www.dailycensored.com/bolivia-expels-usaid/#comment-16091).
This might be one reason that Correa has not given asylum to Snowden or indicated he would. If Snowden is a ‘false flag’ and continues to work with the US government then having him in Ecuador could be a national security risk. This is true for Venezuela as well who also has indicated it might offer Snowden asylum.
For this reason it might not be in Ecuador’s best interest to give any asylum to Snowden. In fact, many Ecuadorians I have talked to ask: “Why didn’t China give asylum to Snowden; after all he claims he has documents that reveal spying by the NSA on Chinese cellular companies?” “Why not Russia?”
It is important to understand the dastardly way that the US intelligence services, both private and ‘public’ work. False flags have occurred not just with the Gulf of Tonkin, the Northwoods Project, which was the military plan to discredit Cuba and more importantly to create the necessity for invasion after the Cuban revolution, and of course 911.
Can all this be a ruse? One thing we do know, Ecuador is in the rifle sights of the US government and anything the US ruling class and the national bourgeoisie of Ecuador can do to hurt Correa’s standing with the Ecuadorian people and the world they will do.
Don’t be surprised if Snowden is found dead. He has become a pawn in a disastrous international chess game that even the evil Brzezinski couldn’t fathom.
We have seen all of this chaos recently and especially after the sweeping win by Correa in February 2013: from the Honduran style coup attempt to overthrow of Correa in 30S, to claims there is no free press in Ecuador and now, to fostering divisions with assertions that the cancellation of the Andean treaty will hurt business; they all play a part in damaging Ecuador’s economy and all of this smells of CIA interference and Correa knows it. So do the Chinese and Russians and it is doubtful that the US strategy of trying to foster divisions and overthrow Ecuador will work.
However, the tale of Jaime Roldos must come to mind and cause fear and discomfort when gauging events in this small, South American country. The forces of imperialism are capable of anything in their march to assure full spectrum dominance of the world.
One last note: The cancellation of The Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act could also be part of the US military establishments attempt to increase drug trafficking from Ecuador. Already, bloggers at the Guardian website ((http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/27/ecuador-us-trade-pact-edward-snowden?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2) have noted that drug trafficking could increase if farmers and flower growers find they would be economically hurt by cancellation of the plan.
As Peter Dale Scott has noted in many of his books, the ‘deep politics’ of the US and its mafia compatriots have been inextricably tied to drug trafficking promoted, controlled, fostered and allowed by the CIA and its surrogates: from Laos to Burma, from Thailand to Vietnam and of course in Afghanistan. Put nothing past the crumbling empire. It has everything to lose and nothing to gain.