The Bush Administration has lost another election, this time in Ecuador.
Correa’s victory is the latest setback not just for Bush but also for the model of corporate globalization that Washington has been imposing on Latin America for fifteen years now.
Populist Rafael Correa triumphed over the richest man in the country, Alvaro Noboa, a banana tycoon.
During the campaign, Correa thumbed his nose at Bush, calling him “dimwitted.” And Correa vowed to reject a free trade deal with the United States, to close a U.S. military base there, and to discard some of the foreign debts his country has accumulated, which he calls “illegitimate.”
Correa’s victory is the latest setback not just for Bush but for the model of corporate globalization that Washington has been imposing on Latin America for fifteen years now.
One country after another has spat out the toxic medicine: from Argentina and Bolivia to Uruguay and Venezuela.
And there’s good reason for it: The imposition of the Washington model has brought a decline in living standards throughout the continent.
That governments in Latin America have been able to get away with these acts of rebellion is nothing short of astonishing, given the historical record of the last 100 years. It has been a fixed star of U.S. policy during all this time that no country in Latin America could defy the wishes of Washington. Fidel Castro was the exception that gnawed at the pride of Presidents. No repeats were supposed to be allowed. And so the United States helped overthrow Goulart in Brazil and Bosch in the Dominican Republic and Allende in Chile and Aristide in Haiti.
The Bush Administration tried to maintain the practice by supporting a coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002. But much to its chagrin, the coup makers proved inept, and the Venezuelan military refused to turn on Chavez, who quickly regained his post.
Now with versions of socialism flourishing in countries throughout Latin America, including in Brazil and Chile, the ability of Washington to keep playing its hemispheric bullying role is greatly attenuated. In part, the people of Latin America have benefited from Bush’s “war on terror” obsession and his Iraq War debacle, which have consumed the attention and resources of his Administration. As a result, Washington has not been able to grind its heal to the south. And in part, the people of Latin America have simply reasserted their power. Done en masse, this is too potent a force for an aging empire to counteract.
Correa understands that. He’s a leftwing economist who does not worship at the altar of free trade.
Instead, he wants to protect the welfare of his people and to defend their right to exercise sovereignty over their own economy.
For U.S. oil companies, which have been reaping enormous profits from Ecuador’s natural resources, this is not good news.
But it is good news for the people of Ecuador, and for those everywhere who refuse to bend their knees to their would-be masters—whether in Washington or in the boardroom of ExxonMobil.
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.