President Rafael Correa may skip the Summit of the Americas in Panama next month to protest the comments made by the U.S. White House in a budget request to Congress.
In the request for $2 billion for foreign aid to Latin America, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson said that some of the money would be used to “support freedom of the press, human rights, and democracy in the hemisphere, including in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.”
Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño acted angrily to the assistant secretary’s remarks, asking “What does the United States know about these things. If anyone in the world needs a lesson in human rights, it is the U.S,” Patiño said in a press release. “This is insulting,” he added.
“We insist that the government of the United States stop … deliberately damaging relations with the countries of Latin America. In order to have a friendly Summit of the Americas, they must stop making absurd and ridiculous statements, which run totally contrary to reality,” said Patiño. “The United States has nothing it can teach Ecuador about democracy, human rights, and freedom of expression.”
Patiño said that Correa had not made a final decision about attending the Summit, which includes the U.S.
Relations between the U.S. and Ecuador have been damaged due to unilateral sanctions the President Barack Obama recently imposed on Venezuela. The Ecuadorean government has been one of the most vocal defenders of the elected government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Patiño repeated earlier criticism of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, saying, “If there is a threat to democracy and human rights on this continent, it is from the United States.”
The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA) have all publicly rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to unilaterally impose sanctions on Venezuela.
The 7th Summit of the Americas, set to take place next month in Panama, will be the first to include Cuba. Ecuador chose to skip the last summit due to the exclusion of Cuba and the disproportionate influence of the U.S. and Canada on the activities of the summit in past years.