Annual Fundraising Appeal

Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from
BARBARA EHRENREICH…

BarbaraE

Here at CounterPunch we love Barbara Ehrenreich for many reasons: her courage, her intelligence and her untarnished optimism. Ehrenreich knows what’s important in life; she knows how hard most Americans have to work just to get by, and she knows what it’s going to take to forge radical change in this country. We’re proud to fight along side her in this long struggle.  We hope you agree with Barbara that CounterPunch plays a unique role on the Left. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.

Day8

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
button-store2_19

or use
pp1

 To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Defending the People Against the Dictats of the Creditors

Ecuador at the Crossroads

by ERIC TOUSSAINT

In the general elections held on Sunday 26 April, Ecuadorians granted their president Rafael Correa a new four-year mandate. He took over 52% of the votes, placing him more than 20 points ahead of Lucio Gutierrez, his main opponent, the former right-wing president who was overthrown by a popular mobilization in 2005.

At the head of what he calls a “citizens’ revolution process”, Rafael Correa had already won several significant ballots. Elected president at the end of 2006, he held a referendum on general elections to appoint members of a Constituent Assembly, which collected 82% of favourable votes in April 2007, that is, at a time when the establishment and all the media were set against him.

In September 2007, candidates of Alianza Pais, Rafael Correa‘s new political movement, and of other left-wing parties that supported his project took a majority of seats in the Constituent Assembly. The text of the new Constitution was approved by the ‘assemblists’ in July 2008 after 8 months of democratic preparation during which time representatives of the opposition had ample opportunity to draft proposals. This draft Constitution, developed with sustained civil society participation, was subsequently put to a referendum on 28 September 2008. It was approved with over 60% of votes in its favour. The elections of Sunday 26 April thus confirm the people’s support for Rafael Correa and the parties that have rallied to him.

Provisional results estimate that Alianza Pais has 62 elected representatives out of the 124 members of the new National Assembly resulting from Sunday’s ballot. The other left-wing parties that could ally themselves with Correa are said to have some 15 elected representatives (7 for the MPD, 5 for the municipalists, and 4 for Pachakutik).

The new Constitution guarantees increased cultural, economic and social rights for the population. It has also set up a democratic mechanism through which elected representatives can be dismissed at mid-mandate whatever the level they operate at, including the President of the Republic (this is also the case in the Constitutions set up in Venezuela in 1999 and in Bolivia in 2009).

Democratic political changes in Ecuador are hardly ever mentioned in the major media of industrialized countries. On the contrary a defamatory campaign is methodically orchestrated to present the heads of State of these three countries as authoritarian populist leaders.

Yet the experiences of these three Andean countries in terms of new Constitutions are very rich. They ought to inspire people and political forces in other countries. They contrast sharply, for instance, with the situation in the EU where there is no democratic procedure to adopt a constitutional treaty. Obviously the current experiences in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador also present significant contradictions and limitations which have to be analyzed.

The coming months will show whether Ecuador’s government can take the necessary measures to face the consequences of the international crisis which is deeply affecting the Ecuadorian population.

Since November 2008 Ecuador has stopped repaying part of the loans contracted by previous governments as bonds (the bonos global 2012 y 2030). The Ecuadorian authorities made this decision on the basis of the results of work carried out by the Commission for a complete auditing of the public debt. These bonds are indeed nullified by the very conditions in which they were issued. On 20 April 2009 the government proposed that those who acquired such bonds should agree to a 70% devaluation. Their decision is expected by 15 May 2009.

Like the majority on the commission, I personally supported the idea of simply putting an end to the repayment of those bonds and suing the people who were in charge, whether in Ecuador or abroad (mainly US major banks) for the various crimes they are responsible for. While announcing that legal actions would be initiated, the Ecuadorian authorities, as is indeed their right, opted for a more moderate course (similar to that taken by Argentina between 2002 and 2005). The future will say whether this course was enough to relieve the burden of debt on a lasting basis, but today nothing is less certain.

Still, so far, the Ecuadorian government is the only one in the world to launch a complete audit of its public debt during the 2000s and involve society at large. The fact that other governments have not yet followed their example has made life difficult for the Quito authorities since they fear being isolated on the international scene. A new public debt crisis is on its way as a consequence of the international crisis that started in countries of the North in 2007. In the coming months and years several countries will be facing serious repayment difficulties. This is why it is essential to stand firm and defend people’s rights against the dictats of creditors.

ERIC TOUSSAINT, president of the Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt – Belgium www.cadtm.org , author of The World Bank: A Critical Primer, Pluto, London, 2008.

Translated by Christine Pagnoulle in collaboration with Judith Harris