Ecuador mayors attending the annual meeting of the National Association of Municipalities in Guayaquil voted to support President Rafael Correa’s plan to extract oil from the environmentally sensitive Yasuní preserve.
The mayors said oil production must be carried out with the minimum of environmental damage but said they believed Correa’s plan will meet strict standards.
Association president Jorge Martinez of Ibarra said that Correa is correct in saying that Ecuador needs funding from oil to eliminate poverty and continue improving national infrastructure. In particular, Martinez said that the plan to install safe drinking water and sewer systems in all of the country’s cantons is a critical step in improving lives in Ecuador.
“This is a huge project and it will help us eliminate the worst poverty in Ecuador,” Martinez said. “But it will cost $4 billion to achieve and for this we must use the resources available to us.”
Martinez also agreed with Correa that continued poverty will cause more environmental damage than oil drilling. “We have seen it happen all over the world. Desperately poor people destroy the environment to survive. Look at Inida and Haiti and you see that this is true. We have seen some of it in Ecuador too.”
The water and sewer upgrades will mean that 95% of the country’s population will have high quality service, according the plan submitted to the mayors by Correa.
Correa rebukes Assange for political spoof
Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa has chastised Julian Assange for making fun of Australian politicians in a video shot at his place of refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy.
The video, by a Melbourne-based comedy group, has been viewed more than 460,000 times since it first appeared on YouTube less than a week ago.
It features actors playing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and former prime minister Julia Gillard, along with Assange, who is wearing a wig and singing a parody of John Farnham’s “You’re The Voice.”
“We have sent him a letter and told him that he can campaign politically, but without making fun of Australian politicians. We are not going to allow that,” Correa said Friday in Suriname, where he was attending a South American summit.
Correa reminded Assange that he is a guest at the Ecuadorian embassay and is subject to “house rules.”
The WikiLeaks founder is running for a Senate seat in Victoria in the Australian election, despite being holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy.
Church, Red Cross sponsor national blood drive
The Ecuador Red Cross and the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have joined forces to collect at least 1,000 pints of blood through the month of September.
Blood collections will be taken at Mormon churches throughout Ecuador. Those donating blood must be under the age of 65, be in good health, be off medications and weigh more than 110 pounds. Those qualifying must also arrive at the collection cites on empty stomachs.
Blood collectoins will be taken from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Photo caption: President Rafael Correa