- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2004

Defending Gutierrez

The U.S. ambassador to Ecuador is throwing Washington’s support behind the country’s embattled left-wing president, who is facing impeachment charges brought by political opponents.

“The constitutional government has our support,” Ambassador Kristie Kenney said after a meeting with President Lucio Gutierrez last week.

She said the oil-rich South American country needs political stability, especially now that Mr. Gutierrez’s economic reforms pulled Ecuador out of a crisis and put it on a path toward recovery. The economy is expected to grow by 5.9 percent this year.

“I think stability favors economic growth [and] the reduction of poverty,” the ambassador said. “The country also has important things to do this year, such as the free-trade treaty.”

The United States is negotiating a free-trade agreement with Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.

The political opposition began impeachment proceedings last week by accusing Mr. Gutierrez of the misuse of public funds during a recent local election. The president, elected in 2002, denies the charges.

If he is impeached and removed from office, Mr. Gutierrez would become Ecuador’s third ousted president since 1997. Ironically, Mr. Gutierrez was jailed briefly in 2000 for his role in a coup that overthrew President Jamil Mahuad. Mr. Gutierrez was an army colonel at the time.

Israeli greetings

A former Israeli ambassador to the United States was elated by President Bush’s re-election.

“Israel and the free world has every reason to rejoice over this result,” said Zalman Shoval, now a top foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

Eduard Pruetnik, chief of staff to Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who speaks at the National Press Club at 2 p.m.

• A delegation from Pakistan, consisting of Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, minister for privatization; Sherry Rehman of the National Assembly; Arif Hasan, a social commentator; Mohammad Mansoor Ali of the State Bank of Pakistan; and Talat Aslam, editor of the News of Karachi. They participate in a forum sponsored by Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

Tomorrow

Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, two survivors of the 1984 poisonous gas leak in Bhopal, India. They will receive the International Award from the American Public Health Association in a 20th anniversary commemoration.

Joost Lagendijk, a Dutch member of the European Parliament who serves on the EU-Turkish joint parliamentary committee. He joins a discussion on Turkish relations with the European Union in a forum sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and the Heinrich Boell Foundation of Germany.

Norah Bagarinkha, a survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and an advocate for women’s rights. She addresses invited guests of Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars after a screening of the documentary film “God Sleeps in Rwanda.”

Thursday

Sergio Aguayo, a Mexican human rights and democracy advocate, who discusses Mexico’s transition to democracy in a forum sponsored by Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

Friday

• Canadian professors Dan Barry of the University of Calgary, Monica Gattinger of the University of Ottawa, Frank Harvey of Dalhousie University and Debora VanNijnatten of Wilfrid Laurier University. They discuss U.S.-Canadian relations in a daylong forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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