Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa on WikiLeaks, the September Coup, U.S. Denial of Climate Funding, and Controversial Forest Scheme REDD
Secret U.S. diplomatic cables recently published by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks revealed new details about how the U.S. manipulated last year’s U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen. Ecuador was one of the nations that lost funding after it refused to sign on to the U.S.-led Copenhagen Accord. Democracy Now! asks Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa about the latest WikiLeaks revelations on how the United States denied his country aid, the failed coup against him earlier this year, and his support for the controversial carbon market-based forest protection scheme known as REDD.
AMY GOODMAN: Official high-level negotiations are underway here in Cancún, and major issues like the extension of the Kyoto Protocol remain unresolved. With the talks scheduled to end tomorrow, a new negotiating text is being proposed by Europe and a small group of Pacific island states that many developing countries say lays the foundations for developed countries to kill Kyoto, the only treaty that binds rich countries to emissions cuts. The new proposals are being drafted by a small groups of countries which will then be presented to the 193 countries negotiating in Cancún. The Guardian reports the result would be that most of the elements of the controversial Copenhagen Accord would be put up for adoption by the United Nations, presenting a major victory for the United States and other rich countries.
Secret diplomatic cables recently published by WikiLeaks reveal new details about how the United States manipulated last year’s climate talks in Copenhagen. Ecuador was one of the nations the U.S. cut funding to after it refused to sign on to the Accord. Well, the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, is one of the few world leaders to attend this year’s climate talks. He spoke at the main plenary yesterday and held a news conference afterwards. I had a chance to question Ecuadoran President Rafael Corrrea.
AMY GOODMAN: Hello, Mr. President. I’m Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! news hour. I wanted to ask you about the U.S. cutting off your funding after Ecuador refused to sign on to the Copenhagen Accord, and I wanted to follow that up with the memo that was released by WikiLeaks, the State Department memo, February 17th, 2010, that said that Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman, quote, "agreed that we need to neutralize, co-opt or marginalize these and others such as Nicaragua, Cuba, [and] Ecuador." I wanted to get your comment on that statement and wonder if you make any connection to what happened soon after that, which was the attempted coup against you in Ecuador.
PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA: [translated] You have asked at least three questions: how can I answer to the sanction, because within Copenhagen we were reduced subventions; what can I say about the report in WikiLeaks about marginalizing Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador, because we are dangerous; and what have we done after the coup? If I understood your question correctly, those are three questions.
Well, the first, the $2.5 million in climatic change, we can offer the double for the U.S. so that they sign the Kyoto Protocol. Now, regarding the second item, now, in terms of the Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador are a danger, if we have massacred millions of people in Iraq, in Afghanistan, we’ve invaded other countries, that’s what we—what could we done? That I don’t believe that Barack Obama—I believe he’s a good person, but unfortunately the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the imperial foreign affairs have their own tendency, and that’s an extreme-right group. Even though the formal power changes hands, the actual power remains within those extreme-right groups, huge representatives of huge corporations or fundamental religious groups, and they who see ghosts where there are no ghosts, and they know that there are no ghosts, but they want to create those ghosts in order to justify their brutality and desire for hegemony. The thing is that we are not afraid of them, and we are not interested in what they’re doing. If they want to be convinced that Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador are a danger for the world, well—
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think there was a connection between the State Department cable that said marginalize Ecuador and then the coup that happened months later?
PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA: [translated] I honestly believe that neither President Obama’s government or the State Department had an intervention in the coup attempt on September 30th. If U.S. agencies that have their own agendas, for example, our intelligence services, our police and the armed forces, the elite units depended from the U.S. embassy and the CIA. They paid them. They appointed the directors. So we eliminated all of them when we came to government. But there are still some of them who were making double salaries, and they made more money from the U.S. embassy than from the Ecuadorians that pay them. So they have that situation, and it’s clear, we can say, that extreme-right groups participated from the U.S. who are no longer in government, but through their foundations and many other ways, they are always conspiring. We do have evidence that these groups finance the opposing groups, and they want to destabilize power in Ecuador. We have evidence of that. So I am certain that Barack Obama’s government formally, regarding what President Obama feels, they had nothing to do with September 30th. But I cannot exclude that some other instances from the U.S. state, who act on their own inertia and their own agendas, and extreme-right groups did have something to do with September 30th, and we have evidence, with account numbers, is how they finance opposing groups and destabilizing groups in Ecuador.
AMY GOODMAN: Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa speaking at a news conference here in Cancún yesterday.
Correa is a big supporter of the scheme known as REDD, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. The proposal would set up an international fund to pay poor nations for saving or replanting their forests instead of cutting them down for timber or cash crops. Though often reported as a means to stop deforestation, a number of environmental and indigenous groups are strongly opposed to REDD and have launched a vocal campaign here in Cancún to block it. After the official news conference with Rafael Correa wrapped up, Democracy Now! producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous caught up with Correa before he left and asked him about REDD.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Mr. President, could I ask you about REDD? There’s a strong opposition by a number of indigenous groups here, like the Indigenous Environmental Network. Well, they think that this is a market—they think this is a market-based solution, and they think the corporations could control rainforests, and it’s a market-based solution to a bigger problem.
PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA: But the problem is they have something against the market. Well, I think the market could not control our life. We have to control the markets, but you can use the market. Markets is an economic reality, you know? And you can use the market in order to achieve social goals like emission controls or emission reduction. Well, it is smart to use it, you know? So, I don’t understand why they are opposing this kind of initiative. In any case, Ecuador is supporting this initiative.
AMY GOODMAN: What about protection of the indigenous in these areas around REDD? That’s what they’re so concerned about, among other issues.
PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA: We can put this protection, but REDD mechanism is a good idea. It’s a step forward, you know? You know, the market is a reality. The point is to control the market and to take profit of it in order to achieve social goals, not to deny the market. That doesn’t make sense.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you trust corporations to do that?
PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA: Not at all. But I trust our people, our nation, our state, in order to control corporations.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa speaking about REDD, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.
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