USAID Told to Get Lost Pt. 3 (Ecuador Edition)

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 1/26/2014 05:59:00 PM
I almost forgot to post about this one (apologies). Mostly on the grounds of political interference, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has, in the past few years, been bounced from Russia and Bolivia. The proximate cause is when USAID provides funding to civil society organizations which may not be in the best standing with the leaders of these countries. And so the story repeats itself in Ecuador:
The United States has canceled aid to Ecuador worth $32 million over the coming years after long-running disputes with the government of socialist President Rafael Correa, according to U.S. officials. Correa, a U.S.-trained economist, has often been at odds with Washington since winning power in 2007. He accuses the U.S. government of trying to undermine him and this year Ecuador renounced U.S. trade benefits dating from the early 1990s [see here].

According to a U.S. State Department spokesperson, Ecuador recently informed the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) it could not undertake new activities or extend existing ones without an accord governing bilateral assistance. This led to the U.S. decision to cancel the aid. "Our planned $32 million in assistance programs for the coming years would have allowed us to partner with Ecuadoreans to achieve their own development goals in critical areas," said a letter dated December 12 from USAID to Ecuador seen by Reuters.
Ecuadorean grievances with American interference during the term of Correa are plentiful:
President Correa has made no secret of his disdain for US officials who he sees as overreaching their diplomatic duties and meddling in domestic affairs. In 2011, he kicked out the US ambassador for comments made in a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks that said Correa might have been aware of high-level police corruption. A year later, he granted asylum to the face of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, who is still holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy.

“In some ways these actions, and the [USAID decision] can be put in there too, are intended to say that we are an independent sovereign nation,” [...] “In the perspective of many in Latin America, and with good reason, USAID is seen as an agent of US imperialism.”

Last year, Correa ordered his government to analyze the impact of a USAID exodus. Requests for comment to Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs Ministry were not returned Friday. Correa in June was granted wide-ranging powers to intervene in the operations of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which often receive funding from USAID. The decree also created a screening process for international groups wanting to work in the country.
It is ironic, really. In the name of "development," the US funds politically-opposed NGOs that make no bones about their disdain for the host government and openly wish it replaced. Meanwhile, the supposedly "anti-imperialist" Ecuador is especially prone to muzzling dissenting voices. There are no real protagonists here. Still, the end result of this power play is (again) adios, USAID.