The Ecuadorian president has denied environmental criticism of a massive mining operation, saying he would not allow “politically motivated” ethnic groups to undermine the Andes economy.
A few days after the arrival of President Guillermo Lasso $ 30bn for projects, including 14 mining businesses, to foreign investors at the Ecuador Open for Business ceremony, the trial court sent a very different message. It barred environmental authorization from drilling in the Los Cedros forest, saying that there had been no dialogue with the local people.
The ruling sparked outrage from protests from the minefield. It threatens the massive copper mines produced by the Ecuadorian mining company Enami and Cornerstone of Canada and its uncertainty could affect other mining operations, hitting Lasso’s plans to revive the economy.
Lasso told the Financial Times in an interview that Ecuador deposits of copper and other precious metals should be mined to support a global transformation away from fossil fuels and added: does not allow this to happen. ”
He said he wanted to try to persuade the public by specifying the nature of mining, a reliable, sustainable mine and protecting the interests of the majority of Ecuadoreans more than the political interests of leaders who want to campaign. the foundation provides Ecuadorean wealth “.
Ecuador’s economy was hit hard by the epidemic and has not changed. Citi estimates a growth rate of 3 percent in 2021 and 1.5 percent in 2022. Lasso believes the figures will be higher but adds: “These are not statistics that make me happier or happier because we need greater economic growth.”
After securing his first victory with one of the fastest running campaigns in the world, Lasso faces a major challenge. Its CREO party has less than one-tenth of the seats in the National Assembly and has failed to form a permanent governing body.
The presidential tax reshuffle came as a surprise, after Congress had approved or rejected it. A progressive rate that increases taxes on Ecuador’s richest companies and individuals, raises about 1 percent of GDP on surplus, according to JPMorgan.
Lasso now seeks to promote employment reform so that strict labor laws can be reformed and a mechanism to promote funding that contributes to social cohesion. The project is facing strong opposition from the left UNES faction of former President Rafael Correa and the Pachakutik party.
“In January we will be showing [the labour reform] to government agencies and to the ideology of the Ecuadorean people to create a greater debate between employers’ organizations, organizations, academics, politicians and to gather all the challenges to change the process and send, I would say in March, to the National Assembly. to agree, “Lasso said.
The process has been disrupted by a public dispute between the President and Jaime Nebot, the center-right PSC leader. After one campaign the PSC was dissolved by Lasso at the beginning of his administration and Nebot has criticized the president for failing to keep political alliances.
This leaves Lasso relying on Pachakutik for help but the party has split and has become an eagle in congress. Former Yaku Pérez president has lashed out at Lasso for tax evasion after details of his maritime business were published in the Pandora Papers, sparking a Prosecutor-General investigation.
Lasso, a self-proclaimed millionaire, came back strong after Pandora’s revelations. He also said he left his seafood account in 2017 and survived initiated by political opponents in Congress to challenge him. The superintendent’s office also dropped the investigation for lack of evidence.
“This is a closed chapter,” Lasso told FT about trying to protest. “It was born closed and died locked up because there was no need to investigate like that.” He said Perez’s accusations were “stupid”.
But the difficulties Lasso faces in management “do not change for the rest of his life,” said Andrés Mejía, an Ecuadorian specialist at King’s College London. “I think it ‘s getting worse. . . This is a sad sign that you have missed out on a very important partnership. ”
Lasso also faces a serious challenge from the escalating violence of terrorism, many of which are linked to drug trafficking. US Ambassador unveiled this month that Washington banned the visas of several Ecuadore “narcogenerals” and expressed concern over the manner in which law enforcement officials were brought in by smugglers.
Two imprisonment in two months in a terrorist-controlled area lost the lives of more than 180 inmates. Lasso said security was now paramount.
“I just finished this interview with [then] I spend the two hours I spend every day promoting SNAI, which is a prison organization, ”he said. “My biggest concern is safety.”
Michael Shifter, president of the Interamerican Dialogue, a think tank in Washington, said he was impressed when he visited Ecuador recently and how drug crime has grown.
“Ecuador has always been proud that it was not like Peru or Colombia,” he said. “But he’s joined the club now, unfortunately. This is a big head for Lasso.”