Sunday, June 21, 2015

Obama Wants Regime Change in Ecuador

Obama Wants Regime Change in Ecuador

by Stephen Lendman

Obama is no man of the people. He never was throughout his political career. He serves powerful monied interests exclusively. 

As an Illinois state senator, he represented Chicago real estate interests at the expense of Black communities they wanted gentrified. He disgraces the office he holds. He remains a front man for wealth, power and privilege.

Earlier, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund executive director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard called the "defining feature of (his presidency) the eagerness with which it embraced the stunning evisceration of civil rights and liberties that was a hallmark of the Bush administration, and then deepened those outrageous programs. He has successfully counted on the acquiescent silence of the liberals." 

His agenda mocks democratic values, rule of law principles and social justice. It includes endless wars, corporate favoritism, anti-populism, harsh crackdowns on nonbelievers and replacing all sovereign independent governments with ones Washington controls.

Ecuador is one of many targeted countries. Previous articles discussed ongoing street protests on the phony pretext of inheritance and capital tax increases solely affecting the nation's wealthy - about 2% of the population. If not this issue, another would have been invented.

What's happening on Ecuadorean streets is a US-orchestrated right-wing rebellion by the nation's privileged few against everyone else in the country.

Whenever instability erupts almost anywhere, especially in the Americas, the Middle East or related to Russia and China, chances are America's dirty hands are involved.

Ecuador is the latest example - and not for the first time. It's easy understanding why President Raphael Correa is targeted for regime change. He partly opposes Western-style neoliberal harshness but not entirely. Diverging even somewhat from Washington orthodoxy makes him a marked man.

Like Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, he represents the threat of a good example.

He's a University of Illinois educated economist - receiving his doctorate in 2001. He taught economics at the University of San Francisco in Quito, served as an Ecuadorean economic advisor to state and international agencies, then economy and finance minister in 2005.

In 2006, he was elected president. His tenure began in January 2007. He's been reelected twice. Like Hugo Chavez, he calls himself an advocate of "socialism of the 21st century." James Petras explains he "combine(s) ‘nationalist populist’ and neo-liberal policies more than" the socialism he proclaims.

In February 2013, a Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) paper prepared by Mark Weisbrot, Jake Johnston and Stephan Lefebvre examined financial and regulatory reforms during his first five years in office.

They called them "perhaps the most comprehensive of any country in the 21st century" - including controlling the nations central bank, regulating capital outflows, taxing financial interests, encouraging domestic investment and cooperatives, as well as instituting consumer protections.

CEPR analysts called it "Ecuador's New Deal," saying it played a major role in stimulating economic growth, increasing government revenue, substantially reducing poverty and unemployment, as well as achieving other economic and social indicator improvements.

Weisbrot said "Ecuador has gone against the conventional wisdom and shown that there are alternatives."

"By pursuing policies that have prioritized economic development, employment, and poverty reduction over financial and foreign interests, Ecuador has surmounted some of the problems that had previously held it back, and that have hampered progress in other countries. (Correa's) tenacity and courage served (Ecuador) well."

Large spending increases in housing, healthcare and other social areas were instituted. Education funding as a percent of GDP more than doubled.

An important redistributive cash-transfer program increased by one-fourth. A democratically elected Constituent Assembly new constitution was adopted by national referendum. 

Measures introduced included citizen-initiated referendums, increased access to healthcare and education, improved worker rights, more equitable distribution of income, fair as opposed to so-called "free" trade, and environmental protections.

Things are far from perfect in Ecuador. Business interests retain considerable power. Revolutionary change has a long way to go for greater equity. 

Yet overall conditions improved greatly under Correa. How much further he may shift from destructive neoliberal policies remains to be seen. CEPR analysts concluded the following:

"What is most remarkable is that many of (Correa's) reforms were unorthodox or against the prevailing wisdom of what governments are supposed to do in order to promote economic progress." 

"Taking executive control over the central bank, defaulting on one-third of the foreign debt, increasing regulation and taxation of the financial sector, increasing restrictions on international capital flows, greatly expanding the size and role of government -  these are measures that are supposed to lead to economic ruin."  

"The conventional wisdom is also that it is most important to please investors, including foreign creditors, which this government clearly did not do."

"While not all of Ecuador’s reforms went against orthodox policy advice, many of them did -  and they succeeded. It should be no surprise that Correa" remains hugely popular.

He showed "that a government committed to reform of the financial system, can - with popular support - confront an alliance of powerful, entrenched financial, political, and media interests and win." 

"The government also took on powerful international interests as well, in its foreign debt default, its renegotiation of oil contracts, and its refusal to renew the concession for one of the United States' few remaining military bases in South America."

It shows doing the right thing works. It bears repeating. It's why Washington wants Correa ousted. It tolerates no government diverging from so-called free market economics - prioritizing gross inequality, everything for elite interests, crumbs for all others.

US-orchestrated destabilizing anti-Correa protests continue - a revolt of wealth and privilege against populism. A week ago, opposition caravans tried blocking his return from a European CELAC-EU summit.

He temporarily suspended his announced capital gains and inheritance tax increases, called for national dialogue, and said he'll call for rescinding them if popular sentiment disapproves.

Opposition elements refused his outreach. They want him replaced. Protests continue. Planning and Development Secretary Pabel Munoz said "(w)e are opening a national debate about what type of country we want to have."

"There are two models that are being disputed that we need to see. A model where people agree that a few families should accumulate a lot of wealth, but maybe also we will see a lot of Ecuadoreans who want want to work towards a more just society."

Pro-government supporters along with Ecuadorean social movements welcomed a national debate. Forums and door-to-door community campaigns are planned.

Secretary General of Ecuador's Communist Party Paul Almeida Pozo said "(w)e have decided to join this national dialogue, but we believe that (it) should not just be focused on these two laws, but we believe that the Citizen's Revolution has to assume a new historic moment." 

"We need to make this dialogue into an evaluation of what the Citizen's Revolution is, and the advances it has had."

Ecuador's business community opposes national dialogue. Its members won't participate. They want wealth redistribution measures rescinded. They want beneficial social and economic change entirely abandoned - with full support from Washington.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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