“Kathleen, some British news sources are saying that our CIA is operating in Ecuador to support his opponent in next year’s presidential election to defeat duly elected President Rafael Correa.
“We have missionary friends there who have claimed Correa is not America’s friend, but I perceive him to be a nationalistic leader who just does not want outside influence in his country’s business.
“We are seriously considering visiting Ecuador after my back and neck surgeries with a sincere interest in retiring there and would like to know what you think.”
–Fred J., United States
Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison responds:
The CIA story started with a statement from UK diplomat Craig Murray, who said that the CIA had tripled its budget to destabilize the government of Ecuador. Around the same time, the same allegation was made by Chilean journalist Patricio Mery Bell, who also reported that the destabilization was being funded by the proceeds of a CIA drug operation in Chile, similar to the Iran-Contra affair.
The story has not been substantiated, although President Correa believes it is “credible” and “with precedent,” according to statements he made in an interview on Nov. 8, 2012. He also added, however, that he believes neither President Obama, his administration, nor Secretary Clinton would have any firsthand knowledge of such an operation.
From my view as an expat, I would also find it credible that the United States could try to influence the outcome of Ecuador’s elections. When President Correa was first elected in 2006, his opponent (banana tycoon Álvaro Noboa), was commonly referred to as the “U.S.-backed candidate” in the press. The Bush administration knew that Correa was not going to renew the lease for use of a military base in Manta by the U.S. Navy, so it was in their interested that he lose.
I think you’re right when you characterize President Correa as not wanting outside interference in his country. He wants to remain independent and feels no obligation to do as he’s told. Unlike his relationship with President Bush, however, his public statements indicate a respect for President Obama and his administration. (Like President Obama, President Correa is a former resident of Illinois, having received both an MS and a PhD from the University of Illinois at Champaign.)
All that said, when it comes to considering a country for residency, I ignore the politics unless they affect my personal safety or property ownership rights. Presidents come and go, but the character of the country and quality of life usually remain the same from an expat’s perspective.
I’d suggest you spend some time in Ecuador and make your determination based on that experience.