Monday, May 22, 2006

OAS: US ‘too hasty’ in move to condemn Ecuador

I meant to post something earlier on the extraordinary response of the US to instantly condemn Ecuador for an Ecuadorian Court decision that found US oil company 'Oxy' had violated the terms of its contract. Once that determination was made the country had no choice but to follow the law and void the contract, which lead to the confiscation of assets. This did not stop the US from treating the move as in "illegal" act and immediately ending trade talks with the Andean country, which faces an election in 5 months. The frontrunner socialist candidate Leon Roldes has come out in support of move.

Most press organs in the West was also aghast at this latest form of 'populism.' But now, amazingly, the usually compliant Organization of American States (OAS) has supported the move, and come out strongly against the American reaction. Excerpts from the Financial Times piece:

Ecuador ‘was right to revoke Occidental licence’
By Hal Weitzman in Quito
Published: May 21 2006 19:12

The secretary general of the Organisation of American States (OAS) has sharply criticised the US for moving too swiftly to condemn Ecuador over its decision to seize the assets of California-based Occidental Petroleum following a legal dispute.

In an interview with the FT, José Miguel Insulza said the US should have examined the case more carefully before deploring the move and suspending trade talks between the two countries.

“I don’t think more than few hours passed between the Ecuadorean announcement and the US response,” Mr Insulza said, adding that Ecuador had believed it had been “within its rights”. “These kind of things cause resentment … and that is not good for the hemisphere.”

Mr Insulza, who completes his first year in office this week, downplayed fears that the region is becoming increasingly polarised as a result of the growing influence of Hugo Chávez, the radical leader of oil-rich Venezuela. “There has been no sharp shift to the left or the right,” he said.
He urged governments, multilateral banks and other international agencies to be more flexible in the way they disburse aid to Haiti, whose newly elected President, René Préval, took office 10 days ago.

Donors meet in Brasília on Tuesday to discuss ways of helping Mr Préval revive the country’s stricken economy. Not much more than a half of the $1.4bn pledged in July 2004 has actually been disbursed and too little of the spending has resulted in concrete and visible improvements to infrastructure.


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