Last year Ecuador strongman Rafael Correa stated that he preferred “one thousand times” to be an ally and friend of state sponsor of terrorism Cuba and Venezuela, than to be a friend of the United States. And Correa has by act and deed, kept his word.
The only democracy existing in Ecuador, is in name only. Rule of law, a thing of the past. Freedom for the political opposition and the media, virtually non-existent. Private property rights are being destroyed through supra-legal measures for redistribution without compensation to the true owners. The free press and the media have become special targets of the state, stray too far from the understood script, and you will be shut down and taken over by the government.
The government supports terrorists groups, such as Colombia’s FARC, and it has disengaged from the cooperating with the U.S. and regional power to combat illegal drugs. It has even kicked out the U.S. military from a $65 million facility in Manta, Ecuador, built over the years with U.S. taxpayer monies, to help capture drug and people smugglers in a strategic hotspot. This facility may end up in the hands of the Chinese or the Iranian military.
Ecuador has become Andean proxy for the anti-U.S. axis in the Americas led by Cuba and Venezuela. While not as openly confrontational has Venezuela or Cuba, he needs access to the U.S. market, Correa is no friend of the United States. From working to re-admit Cuba to the Organization of American States (OAS), to ceasing anti-narcotics cooperation, to targeting the few remaining U.S. companies in Ecuador, the Correa government, and its supporters, are squeezing out freedom and democracy.
Rather than call attention to these challenges, the Obama Administration has chosen to embrace another regional troublemaker. Just yesterday, the White House Press Office issued a statement: “The President stated his desire [to Correa during a telephone conversation] to deepen our bilateral relationship and to maintain an ongoing dialogue that can ensure a productive relationship based on mutual respect.” As far as Correa is concerned, it is a one way dialogue that take orders from Havana and Caracas.
There are countless opposition leaders, groups, and businesses in Ecuador that have been targeted by the state who need a strong showing by the U.S. against this government. Stating that there is a “vibrant democracy” or a “free and independent press” in Ecuador, when there is neither, works against the opposition and free markets. Some of these countries, Ecuador included, have also become a favorite hiding place for radical Islamist terrorists groups from the Middle East.
Ecuador has become another piece in a complex web of connections and alliances for the Bolivarian Axis. Led by Cuba and Venezuela, the network includes leftist leaders in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. This seemingly subtle, yet very active political and economic syndicate will remain a challenge for the United States for years to come.
There are many people in these countries that are organizing to counter these forces that need our support. Embracing these governments, as in the way the White House did this week, is not helpful for the cause freedom and rule of law.