- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Your editorial “Cut off Ecuador” (Opinion, Friday) arguing that the United States should end its trade agreement with Ecuador for what you perceive as pressure on opposition media and growing “narco-guerrilla” influences bears little relationship to the reality in Ecuador or to the mutually beneficial U.S.-Ecuador relationship. For starters, our government recognizes the importance of a competitive and independent press as a key component in our democracy. Ecuadoreans obtain their news from a variety of newspapers and broadcast outlets in addition to such foreign sources as CNN, Fox News, BBC and Al Jazeera. Citizens in our country have as many choices for news and opinion as do most Americans.

We also believe deeply in the rule of law. President Rafael Correa has vowed to investigate the situation with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) video and demanded that FARC identify exactly to whom it gave donations claiming to represent Mr. Correa. Pardon us if we find it hard to take at face value claims by Colombia that the FARC tapes are unaltered. We are confident that if an honest investigation goes forward, those claims will be proved false.

With respect to the Chevron case, let me just say that the New York District Court’s decision on July 20 to throw out the company’s allegations is another blow to Chevron’s intentions of involving Ecuador in a private lawsuit in which the government does not intervene. The original case, taken to court more than a decade ago by Indian communities of the Amazon against Chevron-Texaco, was moved from New York to Ecuador on the company’s insistence. Then it argued that the Ecuadorian judiciary was independent.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has consistently heralded Ecuador as a drug-war success story. Indeed, Ecuador is the only Andean nation that can claim almost zero cultivation. Unfortunately, our neighbor Colombia consistently produces more than half of the entire world’s supply of coca and cocaine, and some of that slips across that country’s underpatrolled border. Most, however, flows north to the United States. The trade agreement you want to jettison helps all the Andean countries in their efforts to replace the drug trade with legitimate industries. The trade that flows out of it benefits American businesses as much as it does Ecuador.

LUIS GALLEGOS

Ambassador to the United States

Republic of Ecuador

Washington


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