Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ecuador ambassador

I had the great privilege to meet and hear a talk on campus by the Ambassador of Ecuador to the U.S., Luis Gallegos, who has a very distinguished career.  I was really impressed, because here is an individual who has been in his position since even before Rafael Correa's term (if the dates I am seeing are correct) and yet he is very direct and even blunt to a refreshing degree.  "Blunt" and "diplomat" are normally mutually exclusive if someone wants to be in the position for any length of time.  Yet there is no bluster--he is very articulate and reasoned from long years of working on human rights, particularly the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Allegro Foundation, which is focused on disabled children, funded the visit, which also included the Ambassador from Monaco.

In general, I felt his view was very similar to that of Correa (for example, see this post from last year about really interesting Correa comments), namely that there is an admiration for the U.S. (that came out in many different comments) but deep frustration with U.S. policy.  He made a careful but to my mind clear statement that Ecuador should not be lumped in with its neighbors politically.  Correa is neither Chávez nor Morales.

A colleague and I were able to have a quick chat with him prior to his talk, where he discussed the demand side of drugs, which for him is the central bilateral problem.  Obviously, U.S. policy toward Colombia spills over in a massive way into Ecuador, which is spending an enormous amount of money to deal with both guerrillas and migrants.

But in his talk, he began by discussing human rights, since he worked in the UN to create the declaration about the rights of the disabled.  To paraphrase him, "I was idealistic, and felt no one could opposed the rights of the disabled.  Then I ran into the U.S. delegation" (which, unlike many other countries, took a few years to ratify).  He then talked about security (i.e. the effects of drug trafficking) and the effects of the Colombian displaced in Ecuador.

And, lastly, he made the point that he could not think of any other country than the U.S. where an ambassador was told he needed to hire lawyers and sign on with a lobbying firm to get his government's views made to legislators.


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