Monday, May 02, 2005

Who owns Ecuador?

In a recent post I quoted an article citing the possibility that Ecuador's recent popular uprising might have more likely been a coup d'etat. Greg Palast is visiting Ecuador, even as we speak.
It cost a dollar and a half US to stand on the planet's belly button -- that's a buck fifty in the local currency, too -- Ecuador's been "dollarized," which is why everyone is flat broke and in a bad mood and why Quechua women in bowler hats were screaming into the cameras, "TODO FUERA! TODO FUERA !" -- Everybody out! -- in front of the Presidential Palace.

[...]

No more US dollarized governments that promise them water pipes and electricity and vaccinations for the kids.

They had no water, except what they could carry in jugs up the hill, and thirty dollar electric bills, when the few with jobs make a hundred a month, and no shots for the kids -- and they were all in a bad mood about it.

I wanted to tell them they are rich -- this nation, once a member of OPEC -- sits on 2 billion barrels of oil and probably a lot more according to the World Bank documents in my briefcase marked FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY, Ecuador is required to pay 70% of its new oil money to foreign bondholders.

[...]

Anyway, the indigenous women in pastel shawls and dark trilbies wanted NO one as president, not 'Sucio Lucio' (Dirty Lucio Gutierrez) who fled last week nor the nice Dr. Palacio, cardiologist and now accidental president. In office two days and he's in hot water with George Bush for saying some oil loot maybe should go for vaccinations before the Miami gang gets paid.

But the ladies don't want the good doctor, either. "TODOS FUERA!"

"You want NO president at all?" I asked in my atrocious Spanish.

"PODER POPULAR! PODER POULAR!" POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

OK, I said, looking at The People milling around the city square, some looking frighteningly earnest, some drunk, all angry except for the blasé soldiers rolling their eyes and shifting their automatic weapons.

I had the confidential World Bank docs under my arm to show them, but unlike Americans, these Indians and tattered Mestizos know all about the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and "restructuring" and "hard currency reserves" and the dreaded "austerity" which means no water, high electric bills and no shots for the kids.

  Greg Palast article

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