U.S. aid agency will reopen offices in Quito
The United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) will reestablish its headquarters in Quito following a five-year absence. The agency, which had operated in Ecuador for decades, was expelled in 2014 by former president Rafael Correa.
John Barsa, U.S. deputy for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, said Friday that he had reached an agreement with Ecuador’s ministry of foreign affairs to resume operations with a signing of a letter of understanding. “We are entering a new era of bilateral cooperation between Ecuador and the U.S. and look forward to resuming projects that satisfy the mutual interests of our countries,” he said. “We applaud Ecuador’s recent democratic reforms, especially its commitment to restore the rights of to civil society.”
Correa said his decision to end cooperation with Usaid was based on the agency’s alleged interference in Ecuadorian affairs. “Although it claims to promote projects that benefit our people, the agency has actually served as an espionage branch of the U.S. government and has influenced previous governments to do its bidding,” he said in 2013.
The expulsion of Usaid was part of Correa’s battle with several non-governmental agencies (NGOs) that he claimed had “motives contrary to the interests of the government and people of Ecuador.”
Barsa said Usaid would reopen its Quito office in 2020, beginning with a small staff. “Our first activities will involve assisting Ecuador to provide for the large influx of Venezuelan refugees,” he said.
Augusto Saa, Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, said he looks forward to a “new era of cooperation” with the U.S. government through Usaid projects. “Of course, we will monitor these projects closely to make certain they correspond to the needs of our people.”