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Commentary Last Updated: Jan 31st, 2007 - 00:47:11

Ecuador as banana republic: bloody part two
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Jan 31, 2007, 00:44

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On January 25, 10 days after the inaugural address of the new president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, shocking news ripped around the world that Guadalupe Larriva, president of the Ecuadoran Socialist Party and the first woman to serve as defense minister, was killed when two military helicopters collided near the Manta air base, where the US Southern Command regional anti[?]-drug operations are based. Welcome to hard times again.

Of course, perhaps it was just an accident. They happen. More likely, given the history of Central and South American Socialist and democratic governments, perhaps Correa�s defeated opponent, Alvaro Noba, billionaire scion of an elite family in Guayaquil and his Yankee fans held fast to their vision of Ecuador as banana republic, the headline on my October 23 article in Online Journal. There it remained a question. This act may be the first step of the opposition to erase the question mark.

In fact, I had just read Correa�s inauguration speech online at the Executive Intelligence Review. It stated that the basic issue facing the world was the urgent need to restore the moral principle of the Common Good as the premise of economic policy. It made clear that �inhuman and cruel globalization� must be buried, replaced by the needs of the nation state.

Correa outlined �Planks for Constitutional Revolution; The Fight Against Corruption; Economic Revolution; A Sovereign Policy Regarding Indebtedness and Management of the Public Debt; Lessening Dependency and Vulnerability through Regional Integration: The Bank of the SOUTH; Human Work; The Revolution in Education and Health; Rescuing Dignity, Sovereignty, and the Search for Latin American Integration.� All good and necessary steps to freeing his people.

He closed the speech with: �Beloved Ecuadorans: The time has come. There is no reason to be afraid. He who walked on the sea and calmed storms, will also help us to overcome these difficult but hopeful times. Let us not forget that the Kingdom of God should be built here, on Earth. Ask the Lord to grant me a heart big enough to love, but also strong enough to fight. Martin Luther King said that his dream was to see a United States in which white and black could share school, table, and Nation. My dream, from the humbleness of my brown nation, is to see a country without misery, without children on the streets, a Fatherland without opulence, but dignified and happy . . .�

If those words resonate with the �life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,� it is no accident. The author of America�s Declaration of Independence and revolutionary struggle had much the same in mind for his people, white and black. That is, until the southern signers refused to sign if the black slaves were regarded as people. Those words must be struck if they were to sign, and they were.

And so, the American shadow, the repository of our historic nastiness, seems to creep now as then over Larriva�s death. And to remind us we had to wait for another hundred years and a civil war to grant those rights of life, liberty and the pursuit happiness to people of color as well. And it took another hundred years for the Civil Rights Movement to claim them, like for real. And the struggle still goes on here as there.

Hopefully Correa and his people can overcome this setback -- which I�m sure won�t be the last -- and move on steadily in lockstep.

Returning to the Manta base, it was at the center of a seething controversy, most probably responsible for this act. Correa had promised that the US base�s lease would not be renewed when the agreement expires in 2009. And whatever what was really going on at that base had to come to an end.

Six others died in the crash, including Larriva�s teenage daughter, who was accompanying her mother on this bold new journey. People are pointing to previous assassinations of political leaders by �aviation crashes� in the region, including Ecuadorian President Jaimes Roldos�s death in an airplane crash in 1981. Does lightning strike twice in the same place? Yes, especially when the American shadow casts its influence, via the World Bank and other institutions of �economic advancement,� to perpetuate poverty, �free markets� and economic impotence.

President Correa announced the following day that his government will ask that �friendly countries� join in a committee to investigate the crash, to eliminate all doubts as to the cause of it. Correa spoke one-on-one with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who will send air crash specialists, and Brazilian air investigators and technicians from the French company (Eurocop) that made the helicopters. Larriva�s son, who is a mechanical engineer, and a representative of the president will also participate.

I wish Correa and his country much luck and perseverance. Remember, too, Chile had its duly-elected Socialist democratic President Salvador Allende assassinated in a coup d�etat led by the CIA and the Chilean military in 1973. The beast who led them, Augusto Pinochet, after engorging himself on the blood and loot of his people, died, at age 91, on December 11, 2006, in Santiago. During his reign of terror more than 3,000 people were executed or disappeared and thousands more were detained, tortured or exiled.

The CIA order to engage Pinochet in Chile came from no less than Henry Kissinger, then secretary of state for that other criminal, Richard Nixon, fortunately run out of the White House for his dirty Watergate laundry. Kissinger himself cannot visit many countries because he is wanted as a war criminal for his actions. Yet, somehow he and they, the shadows, lengthen their dark influence over the world, not just in South and Central America, but in the US, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa, et al. It is not enough for them to create peace, prosperity, and productive neighbors. In fact, it is not even a thought beyond lip service.

So, when we ask for whom the bell tolls, is it just for Guadalupe Larriva or is it for all those who seek freedom, equality and opportunity for all? Obviously it tolls for us all. And I believe the torch once more has been passed to us to bring light where the shadow now reigns. I know we can do better. We must do better in the name of life, liberty and the future.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at

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