[Marxism] Ecuador forges ahead

Greg McDonald sabocat59 at mac.com
Sun Oct 7 09:43:21 MDT 2007

Yesterday Duroyan Fertl ended his article in the Hatarinchej  
blogsite, "ECUADOR: Landslide triumph for the left",  by quoting  
seasoned political analyst Felipe Burbano.  Burbano was writing  
editorials for HOY news when I was in Quito 15 years ago. According  
to Burbano, who is a frequent critic of Correa from the right,  
Correa's recent victory in the Constituent Assembly “reflects the  
collapse of the old structure of power in Ecuador”.  For Burbano to  
admit the obvious is a reflection of the depth of the revolution  
underway in Ecuador. Burbano joins the chorus of left-wing analysts  
inside Ecuador and internationally who have commented on the meaning  
of the most recent victory for Alianza Pais, Correa's ruling and  
increasingly hegemonic political party, and of course, for the people  
of Ecuador, over 70% of whom live in poverty.

  Polling groups estimate Correa's party to have won between 76 and   
80 of 130 seats in the Constituent Assembly. Alberto Acosta, left- 
wing economist with close ties to environmental groups and the  
indigenous CONAIE,  left Correa's cabinet to run for a seat in the  
new assembly, and according to IPS he won more votes than any other  
candidate. He will be setting the agenda for the new assembly in  
november. Likewise, we have the projection from veteran peasant  
leader Hugo Blanco  that Ecuador stands poised to surpass both  
Venezuela and Bolivia in implementing its version of "socialism for  
the 21st century", because "the regime in Ecuador has the broadest  
support", and J. Bustelo has already posted an article and commented  
on Correa's  decision to expropriate the expropriators among the  
international oil companies doing business inside Ecuador , who have  
nonchalantly destroyed thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest  
in the Ecuadorean amazon, where most of the oil is located,  
endangering indigenous groups who live there as well.

Yesterday  Correa went one step further. In a largely symbolic  
gesture, yet one showing a sense of humor united with strong resolve,  
Correa announced that critics among the oil companies who complained  
about his new decree would find 100% of windfall profits expropriated:

"Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa warned Saturday that if oil  
companies complain about the new distribution of windfall oil  
profits, of which the state treasury is set to take 99 percent, he'll  
also take back the 1 percent he's allowing them as a "concession."

"If they get annoyed, I'll pass a new decree saying that 100 percent"  
of these surplus profits are for "the oil's rightful owners" who are  
the Ecuadorian people, he said, and recalled that according to the  
constitution, the nation's natural resources are the property of the  

Correa said on his weekly program that next Monday the government  
will meet with representatives of foreign oil companies to discuss  
the new contracts.

"If they complain, I won't give them even that 1 percent because this  
is a concession we're giving them," he said with reference to the  
tiny percentage of windfall profits from the surge in world oil  
prices that he is granting foreign oil companies."

Full: http://ecuador-rising.blogspot.com/index.html

In an analysis penned for Monthly Review,  Shawn Hattingh  discusses  
Correa's plan to "break the back of neo-liberalism" in Ecuador, a  
sentiment which has "sent shudders through the US administration and  
its corporate backers". According to Hattingh,  Correa already  
controls more than half the country's oil reserves after kicking out  
Occidental Petroleum earlier this year, and now  Alianza Pais plans  
to take full control over mining rights and telecommunications as  
well as banks and possibly some private media. In a sign of the  
future, the Canadian company Ascendant Copper was recently denied  
contracts to continue operating inside Ecuador because they had  
broken the environmental and mining laws of the country. Nor is  
Correa happy with Carlos Slim's plans to monopolize Ecuador's growing  
wireless communications industry.

  In an analysis for Reuters, Alonso Soto quotes a Goldman Sachs rep.  
commenting on Correa's shock decison vis-a-vis big oil :   
"Unquestionably, this represents a major deterioration of the  
business and investment environment in the country and shows how  
aggressive the government is prepared to be in dealing with the  
private sector and in pursuing its nationalist inward-looking  
strategy," and " "The sectors that in our view are now most at risk  
are: wireless telephone companies, banks, media groups, and the  
mining sector," he said.

Now we wait and see how Washington responds. Clearly, in Latin  
America we are currently witnessing the peaceful yet no less profound  
version of Che's one, two three, many vietnams.

Greg McDonald

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