correa default a bane for us a balm for ecuador
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Correa: Default a bane for US, a balm for Ecuador

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Arab Today, arab today Correa: Default a bane for US, a balm for Ecuador

Lima - AFP

While much of the world frets over negative fallout from a possible US debt default, Ecuador\'s President Rafael Correa told AFP that he sees a distinct up side for his country\'s struggling economy. \"In Ecuador, we don\'t want a crisis, but a default that weakens the dollar would be beneficial from a macroeconomic standpoint, because we are in a dollarized economy,\" he told AFP in an exclusive interview. \"A strong dollar makes us less competitive,\" Correa explained. He referred to what he called the \"terrible\" decision in 2000 by the government at the time, led by President Jamil Mahuad, to abandon the sucre, the currency at the time, in favor of the US dollar. \"It was an awful political decision -- an abomination,\" the Ecuadoran leader said. \"We\'ve been lucky that the dollar fell in value, because if that hadn\'t happened, our situation now would have been extremely dire,\" he said, referring to his country\'s export based economy. Correa acknowledged however that even if there are benefits for Ecuador, for much of the region, a US default would be an \"undesirable situation.\" \"Default would be felt throughout all of Latin America,\" said Correa, who is in Lima for Thursday\'s swearing-in ceremony of president-elect Ollanta Humala in neighboring Peru. An economist by training and close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the leftist Correa was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2009 to lead the politically unstable country of 14.5 million. In his view, the United States and other developed countries have a lot to learn from Latin America\'s experience. \"The crisis in Latin America was such that we even had a crisis of thought,\" he said. \"For decades, we passively, reflexively adopted policies dictated by the developed countries. It was a total relinquishing of power,\" he said, adding that now \"things have changed.\" \"Before we watched as those insufferable people from the IMF disembark from their airplanes to review our books. Now we\'re sending them back home in those same planes,\" he said. \"And now it\'s the developed countries that are turning to Latin America for advice, because they\'re in an economic crisis and don\'t know how to resolve it,\" he said. \"They are committing the same mistakes that we used to make, in submitting to the authority of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), applying its prescriptions\" to their ailing economies, said Correa. He condemned the focus of the global economic establishment on profits and economic growth, which he said often came at the expense of the poor. \"There are differences among the various countries, but in the left there is a focus on social justice, sovereignty, dignity and a role in international policy,\" he said. For example the center-right government of Peru, which followed free-market economic policies and posted an 8.8 percent economic growth in 2010, should have 90 percent popular support. Instead, in the recent elections a leftist politician was swept into power. \"Why did this not happen? Because their policies are empty. This growth has led to poverty. It doesn\'t give anything back to the poor,\" he said. \"What good is a high rate of economic growth if nothing is left over for the needy?\" he asked. Correa has had sometimes testy relations with the United States. Earlier this year he alleged that Washington had infiltrated his country\'s armed forces and police. He also ordered the US ambassador to leave his country over a diplomatic cable that posted on Wikileaks. Last year, Correa fended off a coup attempt by mutinous police who stormed Congress, seized a police barracks and cornered Correa in a hospital in a protest against planned pay cuts. He was later rescued by loyal soldiers and police following the failed uprising, in which ten people were killed.

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