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Ecuador’s president: US must respect Latin America's own path

Ecuador's president Rafael Correa discusses political and social change in Ecuador, the possibilities for Peru under new leadership, and US arrogance and dominance toward Latin America.

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Ecuador's President Rafael Correa spoke last week with Abraham F. Lowenthal for the Global Viewpoint Network. Lowenthal is founding president of the Pacific Council on International Policy and professor of international relations at the University of Southern California.

They discussed political and social change in Ecuador, the possibilities for Peru under new leadership, and US arrogance and dominance toward Latin America.

Lowenthal: Ecuador has had weak and discredited political institutions, bankrupt political parties, a highly politicized judiciary, and an exclusionary, unequal society dominated by a few in the private sector. But it is less clear to me what your Alianza Pais movement is putting forward as an alternative vision. How do you propose to achieve change?

President Correa: We seek to put Ecuador firmly on an irreversible path toward becoming a more just and inclusionary society, with less poverty and with a state that serves the majority, not the special interests. We want a country that is sovereign and not submissive; that is part of a more integrated Latin America that follows its own concepts and interests, not the “Washington Consensus” paradigm that has nothing to do with Latin American ideas.

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The objective is to develop Ecuador as a society organized around the concept of buen vivirliving well, justly and healthfully. Achieving these aims over time, in a generation, but with an irreversible course by 2015 [the rest of Mr. Correa’s authorized term] will depend on achieving fundamental changes in power relationships. The necessary but not sufficient condition for the changes the buen vivir movement seeks is the transfer of power from small interest groups and poderes facticos [vested interests] to the popular masses. Ecuador can be transformed if there is a consensus on a visionary national project, and commitment to it by different sectors.

Achieving this vision through investment in human resources, strengthened institutions, infrastructure, and capital projects – as well as the productive sectors made more efficient through science, technology – cannot be decreed by fiat. It requires examples and education, as well as persistent, dedicated leadership, unwilling to be discouraged by resistance, delays, or detours.

The first requirement, however, is to break the stranglehold on Ecuador of those who long dominated everything: production, finance, the media, and politics. The private sector and the political class were of mediocre quality. They were not entrepreneurial or public-spirited, but people out to protect their own interests and privileges. We have finally displaced them. They have put up fierce resistance, especially through the media, and through devices like using outsourcing to keep labor weak and vulnerable. Their stranglehold needs to be shattered. Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” is part of what Ecuador needs in order to progress.


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