Ecuador's Hugo Chavez?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ecuador's new left-leaning president, Rafael Correa, studied economics in the United States, but the U.S. way of governing does not seem to have rubbed off on him. He appears set on following the example set by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. Last week Correa sat down with Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth. Excerpts:

Q. People want to know if you are as anti-U.S. as your rhetoric would indicate.

A. I lived here and have two academic diplomas from the University of Illinois. Historically we have had very good relations with this country, so we are not anti-American at all. We would like to improve our commercial cooperation with the U.S.

Q . Then why do you oppose the U.S.-Ecuador trade pact?

A. Because it will destroy our agricultural sector.

Q. What is wrong with the free-trade agreement?

A. When you are trading with a country with huge subsidies for the agricultural sector like the U.S. -- the impact of this free-trade agreement would be dangerous for our farmers.

Q. But surely overall, the impact would be positive?

A. You are wrong. Even for Mexico, you can see a lot of problems [from NAFTA]. The impact on small farmers is very dangerous.

Q. How close are you to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez?

A. He is a very good friend of mine.

Q. Do you admire Chavez and think he has done a good job?


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