Ecuador has renounced its trade preferences with the United States, saying it will not be "blackmailed."
In a Thursday morning press conference, communication secretary Fernando Alvarado announced that Ecuador would "unilaterally" renounce preferential trade tariffs granted under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) by the U.S. More than 6,000 Ecuadorian exports, including flowers, seafood and vegetables, are covered under ATPDEA.
Alvarado said that Ecuador made the decision to protect the integrity of the decision of whether or not to grant asylum Edward Snowden, a U.S. citizen.
Some U.S. politicians had threatened to end ATPDEA preferences for Ecuador, most recently over the Edward Snowden asylum request issue.
There was no indication from the U.S. that the ATPDEA preferences would have been expended beyond their July expiration date, although Ecuador was continuing to lobby to preserve them through last week.
"Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, nor does it trade with principles or submit them to mercantile interests, however important those may be," Alvarado said in a prepared statement.
He also pointed out that what was important was the contents of Snowden's asylum request, and Ecuador's right to make a decision.
Ecuador's Minister of the Interior José Serrano also spoke at the press conference, and rejected a blog document he said had created the impression Ecuador intercepts its citizen's cell phone communications. “This is a total fabrication,” he said. Serrano said:
"The document that is being circulated about the purchase of equipment for espionage is a rough montage without a signature of responsibility,” Serrano said. “We have already expressed our need to equip ourselves with security hardware, as covered by Art. 20 of the United Nations convention, the Ecuadorian penal code, and the human rights declaration."
He added that any analog or electronic surveillance must be requested by the district attorney, for the explicit purpose of combating crime. "In Ecuador we do not listen to phone calls for political purposes, only to fight criminals. This technology has helped us solve 100 percent of kidnapping cases in the country."
"We invite the national or international press to demonstrate one single case of groundless wiretapping.You have 24 hours to do so, or you will be determined to be liars. In Ecuador, we are able to guarantee that no one has been wiretapped for political purposes."