7 Ways Ecuador Revolutionized Foreign Policy Models
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In what was perhaps Ecuador’s boldest and most famous foreign policy move under the Rafael Correa administration, in August 2012 asylum was granted to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Ecuador’s U.K. Embassy. But there has been much more to foreign relations than Assange under Ecuador’s Citizens’ Revolution, meaning the country looks considerably different today than it did before President Rafael Correa took the presidential sash.

WikiLeaks

Before Correa, the domination of business and politics in Ecuador by North American interests — overseen by a U.S. military base on the cost — resulted in little social and infrastructural investment.

Instead of bowing to world powers, the Citizens’ Revolution has prioritized sovereignty and Latin American integration. As such, regional cooperation, integration and solidarity have become foundational to the country’s policies.

Kicking Out U.S. Armed Forces

Ecuador reclaimed the US military base in Manta in 2010

Ecuador reclaimed the U.S. military base in Manta in 2010

In September 2009, Ecuador formally resumed control of the Manta military base, 10 years after it was leased, rent free, to the U.S. military as part of Plan Colombia.

The decision to not renew the lease was applauded by most social organizations, who also advocated for wording in the country’s new constitution which would bar foreign armed forces from taking up presence in the country.

RELATED: WikiLeaks Reveals US Interference in Ecuador's Affairs

The Ecuadorean government also canceled a cooperation fund through which the U.S. government financed some Police expenditures, including salaries. After doing so, President Correa expelled Armando Astorga, an attache in the U.S. Embassy in Quito, who criticized the government's decision.

In 2011, Wikileaks revealed several U.S. diplomatic cables from 2009 where U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges blamed the head of the Police force – Jaime Hurtado Vaca – of being corrupt, and claimed that Correa must have known about this. The president requested the ambassador to explain herself over the accusations, but after receiving no response from the Embassy, decided to expel her from the country.

Renegotiating Illegitimate Debt

Before Correa, Ecuadoreans protested IMF and EU debt

Once elected, Correa called for a renegotiation of what he called Ecuador's “illegitimate” US$10.2 billion external debt, given that it was accrued during autocratic and corrupt regimes of the past. Correa threatened to default on Ecuador's foreign debt, and ordered the expulsion of the World Bank's country manager.

OPINION: The Economist Scrapes the Bottom of the Barrel to Attack Correa

As a result of the government's actions, Ecuador was able to renegotiate its debt with its creditors and redirect public funds towards social investments.

Housing UNASUR HQ in Quito

Correa outside UNASUR’s headquarters at Mitad del Mundo, just outside Quito

In December 2014, Ecuador inaugurated the new headquarters for the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a regional platform for South American nations to strengthen economic and political ties.

IN DEPTH: UNASUR: Integrating South America

At the inauguration of the building – located symbolically next to the Middle of the World monument just north of Quito – Correa said, "UNASUR covers 400 million people in 17 million square kilometers. By uniting, we could be the fourth largest economy in the world, with six percent of the gross domestic product in the world. A third of the world's fresh water on the planet, and first in food production, and hydrocarbon reserves for the next 100 years."

Giving Julian Assange Refuge

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (R) holds a press conference at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been living in exile, Aug. 18, 2014

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (R) at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London with Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño

Ecuador granted diplomatic asylum to the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, on Aug. 16, 2012, despite intense pressure from the U.S. and European governments. Assange began his stay in Ecuador’s London embassy in June 2012.

IN DEPTH: Assange: 1000 Days

Since then, Assange has written articles and conducted interviews speaking about transparency of information and state surveillance

Becoming a Key ALBA Member

Rafael Correa (R) with other ALBA presidents from (L-R) Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela

The ALBA regional organization works toward South American Liberator Simon Bolivar’s vision of social, political and economic integration and cooperation.

Ecuador became a member of ALBA in 2009 and a year later, Ecuador and Venezuela made the first bilateral trade agreement using ALBA’s digital "sucre" currency.

Ecuador also plans to open the ALBA Cultural Center dedicated to the promotion of each member nation’s cultures and identities.

Standing in Solidarity with Haiti, Palestine

Rafael Correa visits Haiti to see Ecuador’s efforts in reconstruction and aid after the devastating earthquake

Following the devastating earthquake that leveled Haiti in 2010, Ecuador was part of a coordinated response from ALBA countries, contributing over US$20 million in aid and reconstruction support.

Following Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza strip, Ecuador once again collaborated with ALBA, contributing over 50 tons of humanitarian aid in a combined effort between the Correa government and Ecuadorian citizens.

Reaching Out to China

Correa meets President Xi Jinping in Beijing

Correa is Ecuador’s first president to visit China in an official capacity and his trip marked a new era of cooperation between the two nations.

Earlier in November, China's President Xi Jinping repaid the move, visiting Ecuador where he signed a bilateral cooperation agreement which sets out pledges for major energy, infrastructure, financial, agriculture and manufacturing projects.

Important projects discussed by the leaders included hydroelectric and petrochemical plants, as China continues to grow its economic power with Ecuador, and Latin America more widely.

Both countries also signaled their intent to increase exchanges in science, technology, communication, culture, sports and education. President Correa also thanked China for its support after the April 16 earthquake which killed over 600 people.
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