The ‘Buen Vivir’ Storytellers

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A complex propaganda campaign and the extensive use of public relations agencies in Europe and the United States convinced intellectuals of at least two myths: Rafael Correa’s ‘leftism’ and the ‘economic success’ of his administration, which now faces the lowest economic growth of the whole region and is in talks with the once criticized International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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The campaign
The international publicity campaign to fabricate the ‘Ecuadorian miracle’ began with a survey carried out by a Mexican group, which won Correa massive popularity in the Americas. Based on this, a series of documentaries entitled ‘Ecuador desde afuera’ [Ecuador from abroad] were prepared and broadcast on YouTube. In these documentaries, the interviewers and various international public figures went to great efforts to praise President Correa’s economic management.

The first video of the series was broadcast on 26 April of 2012. Its introductory text said: “This documentary is a world view of Ecuador; various intellectuals, public figures, and politicians analyze the Citizens’ Revolution as an admirable model and outline how to replicate it worldwide”. The National Communication Secretariat is named as being responsible for the documentary.

The video begins in Mexico with an interview with Roy Campos, the director of the polling firm Consulta Mitofsky. He praises Correa, saying that his achievements “captured the attention of millions of citizens from all nations”. Then Campos analyses Ecuador’s history of short-lived presidents and government failures. He highlights “Correa’s 71% popularity rating when he took office. The global economic crisis in 2008 did not affect him. Five years after he was elected, his popularity rating rose to 75%. Presently, (Abril 2012) his popularity has risen to around 81%.”

The documentary continues with interviews of famous analysts. The columnist Juan Carlos Morales wrote about these analysts in his opinion column ‘Ecuador desde afuera’, which was published on 28 July of 2012 in the state-owned newspaper El Telégrafo: “It is odd, while some local columnists still endure a ‘banana republic’, Noam Chomsky, the linguist and political activist, speaks highly of Ecuador. The French philosopher Edgar Morin, author of the book ‘The Way for the Future of Humanity’, values the symbiosis of different cultures as an interesting plan in Ecuador. He has no qualms about saying that he took the ‘buen vivir’ idea [‘good living’ – which refers to an approach to development based on the well-being of the community as a whole] so that, hopefully, one day it can be applied in France and the world”. In the article, Morales also mentions others who praise the Citizens’ Revolution: Jayati Ghosh, from India; Ignacio Ramonet, from Spain; Mark Weisbrot, from Washington and Alicia Bárcena, from Chile.

A German invented the ‘jaguar’
On 23 February of 2013, after Correa’s election victory, Germany’s Deputy Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Hans Jurguen Beerfeltz, compared Ecuador to the so-called ‘Asian tigers’, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. He said, “Germany is happier than ever with its collaboration with Ecuador as it is a trustworthy political partner with a reform agenda that we like and because of the stability in place, especially after President Correa’s great electoral victory. We believe that today Ecuador is the Latin American jaguar, which is about to jump, as was said before about the Asian tigers”.

The German Minister also mentioned that the country’s growth reached 4.3%, when the regional average was 3.7%, and that tax revenues were three times greater than in 2006. He pointed out that Ecuador is the only country in the world that recognizes the rights of nature as part of ‘buen vivir’. This was a fundamental factor for countries such as Germany to contribute experiences and resources to unique initiatives like Socio Bosque [Forest Partners] and Yasuní ITT.

Six months after Hans Jurguen Beerfeltz said this, on 23 August of 2013, President Correa authorized oil exploitation in the biggest ecological park in the country, the Yasuní national park, showing the world that the revolutionary government’s promise not to touch Yasuní was another tale.

The magazine América Economía noted that the rise of the four Asian countries began in 1950 but only became evident in the 90s; Ecuador, however, has aspired to make the leap in only six years of transformation.

European backing
Days after Correa’s reelection in 2013, an article appeared entitled ‘Ecuador: European Backing for President Correa’s “Citizens’ Revolution”’, which was published on the webpage of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM). It was written by Cristiano Morsolin, an Italian researcher and network operator, residing in Latin America since 2001.

Morsolin said, “In the context of the presidential and legislative elections on 17 February of 2013 in Ecuador, the International Committee in Support of the Citizens’ Revolution, which has its headquarters in Paris, issued the ‘Call for support for the Citizens’ Revolution and the Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’. More than three hundred politicians, trade unionists, intellectuals and artists from 16 European countries signed the call for support for the Correísta regime.”

Among the first signatories were public figures like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Member of the European Parliament, ex-Minister for Education, ex-candidate in the presidential election for the Left Front, France; Ignacio Ramonet, journalist and writer, France; Alexis Tsipras, Greek presidential candidate for the SYRIZA party (Coalition of the Radical Left), who was reelected Prime Minister of Greece in September 2015; Oskar Lafontaine, founder and ex co-chair of Die Linke [The Left], ex-Minister for Economy and Finances, Germany.

During the French election campaign in 2012, a leaflet by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Member of the European Parliament for the GUE-NGL group, was widely disseminated. It explained the meaning of ‘Citizens’ Revolution’, a concept taken from the slogan of the Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa.

On 5 March of 2013, Ignacio Ramonet, director of Le Monde diplomatique, Spanish edition, praised ‘Rafael Correa’s overwhelming victory in Ecuador’ writing, “In his six years of government, Rafael Correa has effectively transformed his country, like no other Ecuadorian leader before him. Four economic indicators sum up, more than a thousand words, the success of his policies: in the whole history of Ecuador, the inflation rate has never been lower; growth has never been higher; unemployment has never been lower, and the real wage has never been higher. Emigrants who, fleeing the collapse in Spain, are returning to Ecuador and appreciate better than anyone the new economic prosperity. It is proven that the chaos, disorder and political fragmentation has ended; that there is stability and social equality with dignity; a real government which has curbed the propertied classes; a left-wing government but without the illusory excesses of left-wing spokespeople; in short, a leftist government which is transforming Ecuador forever.”

The ‘jaguar’ in Europe
With the title ‘The “Latin American Jaguar” has arrived in Europe’, the Ecuadorian state press highlighted Correa’s visit to Berlin on 15 April of 2013, where he met with Angela Merkel. “What I can say is that Ecuador’s core figures are good, debt is drastically lower than some European countries, including Germany”, said Merkel.

On 20 April of 2013, Rafael Correa met with Ecuadorian migrants in Valencia, Spain and said to them, “…we are bad students of the IMF and it is because we are such bad students that Ecuador is doing so well. Hopefully Europe learns from Latin America’s history”.

He recalled that when Ecuador followed the IMF recipes it was tragedy after tragedy, because it did not seek to overcome the crisis but sought to ensure payment of private debts with the international bank.

“It has been six years since Ecuador has had a mission from the IMF and we are doing extremely well. If they come as tourists, they are welcome, but if they come as if they were the new viceroys, we will send them back on the same plane they came in”, said Correa, before the price of oil fell. Today, three years later and with an unfavorable economic outlook, Correa is looking to the IMF.
In relation to the tour of Europe, on 21 May of 2013, another video of foreign praise for Correa’s government appeared online.

Ecuador’s Colombian neighbors invented the ‘miracle’
On 2 October of 2013, the Colombian magazine Dinero published an editorial entitled ‘The Ecuadorian Miracle’. From then, this term began to snowball.
With a little envy, this editorial said, “In the last five years Colombia has maintained its position on the global competitiveness index, prepared by the World Economic Forum, whose latest rankings were made public at the beginning of September.

While we quietly maintain our ranking, in these five years Ecuador advanced 34 places. Thirty-four places! Thanks to this, our neighboring country is only two places away from us and it is highly likely that they will pass us in the 2014 rankings. (…) In Ecuador’s case, the reason seems to be connected to some decisions that the president, Rafael Correa, has made against all odds. To Colombians, Correa seems arrogant, argumentative and unpleasant, but no one can deny that he did a good job in three areas: infrastructure, quality of education and innovation. Regarding infrastructure, he has built 7,000 kilometers of roads and has invested more than USD 5 billion. Correa has made bridges, motorways with eight lanes and a network of new ports with state-of-the-art technology. He built eight hydroelectric plants, rebuilt four airports and rolled out the first Metro line in Quito, which will transport 400,000 passengers a day”.

Our Colombian friends were misinformed because only two stations have been built. The editorial continued with a broad analysis of Correa’s works. On 23 January of 2014, the same Colombian magazine published another article, also entitled ‘The Ecuadorian Miracle’, in which the Ecuadorian government’s successes were noted, but in a more cautious manner. One part of the article stated, “For Colombia, Correa’s model has, without doubt, awoken a huge envy. Roads are made without corruption scandals”. Again, our Colombian friends were misinformed, there were ‘scandals’.

The popular Spanish politician is dazzled by the ‘miracle’
Another European public figure who praised Correa’s ‘miracle’ was Pablo Iglesias, the left-wing politician, popular in Spain, with high poll projections, but apparently, by praising Ecuador’s ‘miracles’ so much, he was overshadowed. Look and listen to what he said about the Ecuadorian government at a conference in the University of the Basque Country. The video title says it all: ‘Why did Ecuador change with the arrival of Rafael Correa?’

The ‘miracle’ makes an impact in the United States
The U.S. financial specialist lawyer, economic analyst and academic William Black developed the concept of ‘control fraud’. It relates to the advantage that a person in power obtains by using the control they have in a business, institution or government, for their own benefit. Black was invited to Quito by the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLASCO – Ecuador) to speak specifically about ‘the Ecuadorian miracle’, where he gave the conference about ‘the Ecuadorian miracle’ highlighting the government’s economic and social achievements.

On 13 April of 2014, President Correa spoke to thousands of Ecuadorians in the New York Hall of Science, “Ecuador is known throughout the world for its economic and political stability, now the ‘Ecuadorian miracle’ is being talked about on a global level. You cannot imagine how excited I am, friends; this is one of the most exciting experiences we have had in the presidency.” He also opined that continued migration was nothing to do with the economic crisis, but was to reunite families. He highlighted his meetings in New York with financial and investment fund senior executives from Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Darvy Overseas Investments and the Blackstone Group. He also met with representatives of leading companies in innovation like Google Ideas, Pegasus, Six Senses, and also with renowned journalists like Barbara Walters, and editors from Forbes and The Financial Times. He also met with well-known Hollywood stars like Vanesa Redgrave and Robert De Niro.

The ‘miracle’ is a tale
The price of oil, which in August of 2014 had reached USD 103 per barrel, fell to less than half that and the tale of the ‘Ecuadorian miracle’ was over. This did not happen the government for being ‘revolutionary’, but because of poor economic management. The government even spent the reserves, something which other ‘revolutionary’ governments like Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba have not done. These countries will be first in the growth index for 2015, while Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela will be last.

According to the statistics of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), growth for 2015 will be as follows: Panama 5.8, Dominican Republic 5.6, Bolivia 4.4, Nicaragua 4.3, Cuba 4.0, Guatemala 3.8, Honduras 3.4, Paraguay 3.3, Colombia 2.9, Peru 2.7, Costa Rica 2.6, Uruguay 2.4, Mexico 2.2, El Salvador 2.2, Chile 2.1, Haiti 2.0, Argentina 1.6, Ecuador 0.4, Brazil -2.8, Venezuela -7.0.

Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela do not fall into the abyss on their own, they are dragging the whole region with them. A poor economic performance by Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela, hit by the fall in prices for raw materials, will drag Latin America down, which will only reach a growth of 0.9% in 2015, according to the IMF.
Now, Ecuador is looking for a ‘miracle’: to borrow money with the IMF’s approval, in other words, making the economic cuts that this financial organization recommends. Ecuador’s hatred of the IMF, it seems, is another ‘revolutionary’ tale.

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