Anti-U.S. Club Gets Bigger
The United States has lost another Latin American ally—Ecuador. In December, Rafael Correa, who has publicly extolled his friendship with anti-U.S. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and has promised to close a U.S. military base, was officially declared president by the nation’s electoral court.
Correa is Ecuador’s eighth president in 10 years. The last elected president, U.S. ally Lucio Gutierrez, was ousted by Ecuador’s Congress and forced to flee the country in April 2005 when thousands of protestors took to the capital city’s streets. (His vice president, Alfredo Palacio, was then appointed president.) Gutierrez ran on a populist anti-U.S. platform but soon after his election reversed his position and began working with the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund to bring the nation out of its economic woes.
Correa, who also ran on an anti-U.S. platform, now faces the same challenge of balancing Ecuador’s economic recovery with keeping constituents happy.
Correa also faces a Congress controlled by his opponents. This means he could either be ousted like his predecessor or he could turn into another Chavez and eventually seize control of Congress.
Regardless of Correa’s fate as president, Ecuador’s people have shown they do not support the U.S. Back in May 2006, during public strikes and protests, the government canceled some of its oil contracts with U.S.-owned Occidental Petroleum and transferred them to the nationally owned company Petroecuador. These are the kinds of measures the U.S. can expect Ecuador to take—the kind that leave the U.S. out of the picture.
Thus, Ecuador joins the anti-U.S. club in South America, along with Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. Unfortunately for the U.S., the club keeps growing.