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PRESS RELEASE


Ecuador's President Threatens To Expel World Bank for `Blackmail'

April 16, 2007 (EIRNS)—Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced on April 15 that the World Bank and its representative will be expelled from Ecuador, unless the bank can provide an adequate explanation for its attempted "blackmail" of the country in August 2005. President Correa knows whereof he speaks: He was Finance Minister that August, when World Bank officials suddenly informed him that the Bank would not disburse a $100 million loan which had already been approved for Ecuador, unless the government reversed its decision to use some of the country's surplus oil funds for national development and poverty reduction, instead of solely paying off foreign bondholders. At the time, Correa told the Financial Times that the loan cancellation was an "offense to Ecuador.... We are a sovereign country. Nobody can punish us because we are changing our own laws."

Correa's charge adds fuel to the international campaign to force the notorious neo-conservative heading the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, to resign, because he has been using the World Bank to crush countries which stand up for their sovereignty.

Correa made the expulsion announcement after his government won a smashing victory in an April 15 national referendum, with electoral court-approved exit polls showing 78% of the votes cast supported the government's proposal to convoke a Constituent Assembly. The vote shows that Ecuadorians want to "overcome the nefarious neo-liberal state legitimized in the 1998 Constitution," Correa told a press conference after the final exit polls were released. Correa then went after the World Bank, and also announced that his government had finished paying off its remaining debt to the International Monetary Fund. "We don't want to have anything to do" with the IMF, he said.

Correa was elected President in December 2006, with a mandate to put "life before debt."