Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ecuador's Correa launches new term, promises change

On August 3, Ecuador celebrated a milestone when left-wing President Rafael Correa was sworn in for a second term — the first president to serve a second term since democracy was restored 30 years ago. 

The same week, Ecuador celebrated 200 years since it first declared independence from Spain - the first such declaration in Latin America - and Correa assumed the rotating presidency of the new Union of South American Nations, whose capital is in Quito.

Correa - a left-wing economist and former finance minister - was elected in 2006, promising to overhaul Ecuadorian society through a socialist "citizens' revolution" that would reduce poverty and strengthen democratic institutions.

Once elected, he initiated a popular re-write of the constitution, securing re-election in April this year on the platform of building "21st century socialism", despite media opposition and the impact of the financial crisis on Ecuador's weak economy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Colombia, Ecuador dispute deepens

The frosty relations between Colombia and Ecuador got even frostier on July 6 when Colombian officials and lawyers accused members of Ecuador's government of working for left-wing Colombian guerrillas. 

The accusations arose after a video was released featuring Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) commander Jorge Briceno (who goes by the alias "Mono Jojoy") claiming the guerrillas gave financial support to the 2006 election campaign of Ecuador's left-wing President Rafael Correa.

Colombia's prosecutor-general, Mario Iguaran, claimed that a former security minister in Correa's government, Gustavo Larrea, and former Correa adviser Jose Chauvin were "emissaries" for the FARC. 

Ecuadorian officials said the video is doctored. Correa called the footage a "sham" and demanded the FARC clarify whether they had funded his campaign in any way.

Correa has appointed a commission to investigate the claims and the origin of the video, which he claimed was part of a right-wing campaign "to destabilise the region's progressive governments".