El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Live Comfortably on Only $800 a Month"

By Earl Phillips
From International Living

There I stood, close to a 100-foot cliff. Could I do it? Would I dash forward and trade the security of solid ground for the adventure of soaring on the warm thermals of Ecuador's north coast? How did I even get here?

It's a familiar story. My wife Jan and I had been preparing our retirement parachute for many years. We were readying for the jump when the economic ground we were standing upon began to crumble.

We had spent 36 years together raising a family, building a business, upsizing our homes and establishing ourselves within our small community in central Washington. Our plan was modest and the progress steady. We would stay the course, build equity in our business and home and then when our time came, we would sell both.

A comfortable retirement in the warmer climate of Phoenix, San Diego or Miami would naturally follow.

All was going as planned. Then the crisis of 2008 roared into our lives and this, along with the years that followed and a bursting property bubble ripped apart our efforts and those of nearly everyone else we knew.

Devastated and demoralized, Jan and I realized we no longer had the time, strength or stamina to rebuild. Like so many others of our generation, we found ourselves facing a difficult choice. We could delay our retirement and plow ahead, or we could think outside the box.

My wife is the one who first suggested we look for a home on an entirely different continent. We began our research and discovered we could trade in the familiar U.S. retirement locations for more affordable (and exotic) destinations overseas. Over time, we narrowed our target to Ecuador.

We wanted warm weather and beachfront property with a view, so we honed in on the beautiful beaches of the north coast—in particular, on a stretch of wide beach in a sparsely developed area between Canoa and Bahia de Caraquez.

For the first time in years, we were feeling exhilarated and full of hopeful anticipation. We rented a lovely two-bedroom, two-bath condo on the beach between Canoa and Bahia, overlooking gardens and an infinity pool out to the sand and the sea's edge. I could take a few steps out the front door in the morning to surf and Jan could relax and read under an umbrella on the warm sandy beach.

Another expat couple in the complex took us under their wing. Their story, we discovered, is similar to ours. And today, instead of more years spent working at home, they've retired...and live comfortably here at the beach on only $800 a month.

Jan and I spent our days visiting the surrounding area, including both Bahia and Canoa. We considered the advantages and drawbacks. We reviewed our projected retirement budget to determine whether it was a fit. Sitting on the balcony with our morning coffee, we instinctively knew the decision was made. This was the place. This was more than we had dreamed our retirement budget would allow.

So...there I stood on the cliff top...ready to rush toward the precipice. Did I make the jump? You bet. And as I soared like a bird above the ocean I spotted the tract of beachfront where a new condo complex would soon be rising—the site we will call home once it is completed. We had signed the paperwork that morning.

Some might say this was a foolish leap of faith. I say: Life is short. If you find your old trusted parachute is too tattered to carry you into the future, it may be time to look for a different one, just like we did.

5 common mistakes when bringing household goods tax free to Ecuador - The Ecuador Insider

Note from this Blog: We always advise our customers to only bring items with you that are of sentimental value. But for those who insist on bringing "America" with you.......read below.......

There's a lot of bad information out there on bringing your household goods to Ecuador.

Let's clear the air.

Foreigners moving to Ecuador DO qualify to bring one container... one time... of their household goods TAX FREE just like Ecuadorian migrants living abroad who move back to Ecuador.

In order to qualify you need to have a residency visa and your goods need to arrive in Ecuador within 6 months of getting the visa.

Or within 2 months of your arrival in Ecuador.

Here are 5 common mistakes many foreigners experience when moving their goods...

This info was attained through an interview with Vicente Villafuerte, an agent for INSA International Moving and Storage Company, which can handle your move to Ecuador door-to-door. Contact Vicente at 085370929 or at goecuador@hotmail.com.

1. Shipping before getting the visa. Many foreigners ship before actually attaining the visa, which can be a grave error! Often, the visa process is delayed and your belongings may have to sit in costly storage in customs until you get your visa stamped in your passport and can clear your items. Get your visa first!

2. Applying for the visa from a distance. I recommend getting your visa once in Ecuador, it is much easier, faster and less expensive than applying from abroad but you will need to bring a few documents from your home country so do your homework beforehand.

3. Shipping prohibited items. Alcohol, and things like wine collections can not be brought into the country tax free, period, nor can guns or weapons of any kind. Guns are not permitted to be carried by the general public in Ecuador.

4. Not following the different rules for foreigners. Understand that different rules apply to foreigners when bringing their tax free container when compared to locals. Foreigners can not bring anything with an engine (like a car, motorcycle or plane) tax free in their container. While Ecuadorians moving back to Ecuador CAN bring one car up to 4 years old and with certain CC restrictions. Ecuadorians moving back can also bring one motorcycle or other type of motorized vehicle. The moving company you choose can help advise you if in doubt.

5. Not professionally packing their items. Have your moving company do the packing for you, it is usually included in the same cost and having professionals pack your items could save you a lot against having your items broken in transit. Before packing contact your moving agent to be sure your documentation and packing list are right, often even when you ship fully insured the insurance companies will fight not to honor claims.

By air or by sea?

Generally, if you have more than 15 cubic meters of cr@p it'll be cheaper and make more sense to ship by sea.

How much will it cost to ship your goods to Ecuador?

Here are a few prices based on recent real-world examples...

Canada-Cuenca 8m3 $6,400

Miami –Cuenca: 1x20’ $7,000

Houston-Cuenca: 1x40’ $12.000

Dom Buonamici

Britain withdraws threat to enter Ecuador embassy

What is this???? Tiny Ecuador forces the Queen to back down?????

TOM HENNIGAN, in São Paulo

THE BRITISH government has withdrawn its threat to enter Ecuador’s London embassy in order to arrest Julian Assange, the president of the South American country confirmed at the weekend.

President Rafael Correa said his government had received a note from the British foreign office “retracting” a previous warning that it could revoke the diplomatic immunity of the embassy, where Mr Assange has sought refuge for the last two months.

“We consider this unhappy incident overcome, [it was] a grave error of British diplomacy to say they were going to enter our embassy, but we consider it overcome,” said Mr Correa during his weekly radio broadcast.

The British government warned Ecuador in a diplomatic note that it could employ a little-known law in order to enter the embassy to arrest Mr Assange. This provoked fury in South America and was criticised by former British diplomats, who said such an action could leave Britain’s own diplomatic missions vulnerable in the future.

The WikiLeaks founder is wanted in Sweden for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations made against him by two women. He entered Ecuador’s Knightsbridge embassy seeking to avoid British attempts to extradite him there.

Twelve days ago Ecuador granted Mr Assange diplomatic asylum, saying he risked eventual extradition to the United States for prosecution over his publication of thousands of secret government files on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and a huge trove of secret US diplomatic cables.

Britain says it is determined to execute the extradition warrant and has refused to provide Mr Assange with a safe-conduct pass to Ecuador, leaving him holed up in the small embassy which is surrounded by police.

On Friday the Organisation of American States (OAS) declared its “solidarity and support” with Ecuador over its dispute with Britain, and rejected “any attempt that might put at risk the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions”. In the face of overwhelming regional backing for Ecuador, reservations expressed by British allies the US and Canada were confined to a footnote of the resolution adopted by the 34-member bloc.

Speaking at the debate, Britain’s permanent observer at the OAS reiterated London’s position that at no time did it threaten Ecuador’s embassy.

The OAS’s backing for Ecuador follows that of the 12-member South American Union and the region’s left-wing ALBA bloc, which is led by Cuba and Venezuela.

In his radio broadcast President Correa reiterated his hopes that negotiations with London and Stockholm would find a “consensual exit” to the Assange stand-off but that his country “would never negotiate the human rights of a person”.

New border fence: Arizona plans its own 200-mile fence

Did not Eastern Germany have some kind of "fence" when it was communist? Is this "fence" designed to keep Mexicans out.....OR....US Citizens IN??????

By Staff, Associated Press / August 27, 2012

New border fence? Arizona legislators are trying to raise money for a new border fence with Mexico. They hope to start construction by year end.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, center, tours the U.S.-Mexico border with U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Coronado National Forest near Nogales, Ariz. in 2011. Some Arizona legislators would like to build a new border fence, in addition to the federal fencing, along the border.

(AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow/File)


Members of the Arizona Legislature's border security advisory committee want the state to begin building a mile of fencing along the border with Mexico even though it has raised only a fraction of the needed money.

The committee has raised just 10 percent of the $2.8 million needed to complete a mile of fencing. The ultimate goal is to build 200 miles of border fencing.

State Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, tells the Arizona Republic he believes more private donations will come in once construction begins.

Construction could begin by the end of the year using private fencing companies, some donated supplies and prison inmate labor, Smith said. The project is meant to complement the federal government's border fencing program.

The Legislature created the committee in 2010 and tasked it with making recommendations to the governor about how to handle the border, and the fence project is one of its key goals. Members include Republican state lawmakers, county sheriffs and state department heads.

Despite the committee being charged with making security recommendations, none have been made since it began meeting in March 2011.

"I don't think we have enough info to make a recommendation," said co-chairman Rep. Russ Jones, R-Yuma. "There's so much technology that's important given the challenging terrain."

The committee also has failed to meet state law requirements that it file monthly status reports, and it hasn't met since April.

In November 2011 the committee submitted its first and only report to the governor, speaker of the House and Senate president, detailing the prior nine months of meetings.

Jones said they are looking into revising the law requiring monthly reports.

"Reporting once a month becomes cumbersome," he said. "We don't have enough new information to go through the bureaucracy."

10 Top Telecommuting Jobs to Live Abroad

We got this straight off Yahoo News. When these sort of items make the main headlines on the internet....we know that more mainstram Americans are seriously considering getting out.........

By Christina Couch | Bankrate.com – Thu, Aug 23, 2012 11:18 AM EDT

As technology makes it increasingly easy to punch the clock in a virtual office, employees once tied to a desk may now have the ability to work from home or even abroad. In fact, studies from Global Workplace Analytics, a research and consultancy firm headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif., show that approximately 3 million U.S. workers that aren't self-employed work from home full time while an estimated 52 million workers have telecommute-compatible jobs. For those who'd rather converse in foreign languages than by the company water cooler, here are 10 of the best gigs for telecommuting while abroad.

IT professionals
The industry is booming as are telework opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for computer and information systems management professionals is $115,780 per year while the sector is projected to grow 18 percent between now and 2020. Norbert Kubilus, president of the Association of Information Technology Professionals, says that certain jobs within the field lend themselves more naturally to teleworking.

"Analysts, programmers, web developers, help desk staff can work remotely," he says. "If people are responsible for the maintenance of a server, that can be done remotely, but you also have to have people who are hands-on to take care of installation and so on."

Kubilus adds that IT pros are most likely to find telecommute opportunities in small- and medium-size companies and that those eyeing remote working opportunities should seek out positions that advertise the possibility for telecommuting.

"Most times, you're not going to go to a company, interview for a job and mention, 'Oh, I want to telecommute,'" he says. "That's not going to fly."

Translation and interpretation

This job might actually reward you for moving abroad. Workers with fluency in a foreign language and sharp communication skills can land jobs in verbal and written translation regardless of where they live, says Carla Itzkowich, executive director of International Contact, a multilanguage communication company that produces marketing materials in 100 languages.

"(Translators) need to invest between $600 to $2,000 in tools of the trade, but once you're set up, you pretty much can work your own hours, your own time, your own home," she says.

Startup costs include a foreign language dictionary, a computer, a fast Internet connection that can support audio or video interpretation sessions and translation management software that prevents workers from using the same verbiage over and over again. Itzkowich adds that certification from an organization such as the American Translators Association can help someone break into the field but may not be absolutely necessary. Pay is typically by the word, so speed and accuracy count. Those who speak a less common language or who can specialize in an area such as finance or medical translation can charge more, says Itzkowich.

Sales personnel and consultants
"Sales people are most conducive to remote offices because (many) don't have an office location in a traditional office. They are located in their homes or customer locations," says Jay Mulki, a Northeastern University associate professor of marketing who has conducted extensive research in the remote working field.

According to the Telework Research Network, sales jobs dominate the work-at-home workforce. A 2011 paper published by the group shows that 70 percent of those working from home hold positions in management, professional, sales and office jobs.

Sales leaders looking to work abroad should seek out companies that have a broad consumer base in the employee's country of choice, says Mulki. They, and all other remote workers, should create a separation between work and home life.

"When you work at home, work never goes away," he says.

PR managers, marketing specialists

According to the Council on Public Relations Firms, a trade organization of more than 100 PR companies, approximately half of its member PR firms experienced double-digit growth during 2011. For 2012, one-third of PR firms expect to increase hiring for workers coming from fields outside of public relations.

Since much of the job revolves around communication, PR workers must be able to draft anything from speeches to press releases and should be able to create and control their clients' public images.

The upside is that much of that work can be done remotely. While public relations work lends itself to telecommuting both domestically and abroad, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employees can expect good job prospects, but long hours -- in 2010, nearly one-third of workers in this field clocked in more than 40 hours per week. The field is projected to increase 21 percent between now and 2020 while the median annual wage currently hovers around $57,550.

Software developers
Someone has to develop applications, build computer games and create the next wave of can't-live-without-'em digital tools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for software developers is currently $90,530, while the job market will grow much faster than average -- by 30 percent between now and 2020.

Barry Frangipane, co-author of the book "The Venice Experiment," a memoir of his experience working as a software developer for a U.S. company while living in Italy, says that telecommuters working abroad should make sure that they can still interact with their U.S.-based coworkers. To do that, Frangipane's company set up a webcam so that he could participate in weekly company meetings from Italy.

"I could see people at the office at the meetings and they could see me," he says. "We felt like we were really connected."

Developers working abroad should also have access to technological upgrades the company makes. To ensure that his work stayed up-to-date, Frangipane kept one laptop in his U.S.-based workplace, one with him in Italy and linked the two using remote access software.

Customer service representatives

In the ever-expanding world of telecommuting, call center and helpline personnel lead the charge, says Kate Lister, president of the Telework Research Network and co-author of the book "Undress for Success: The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home." While wages in this sector usually lean on the low side -- the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that customer service reps earn a median salary of $30,460 per year -- opportunities abound in companies that range from medical helplines to fast-food chains.

"When you order a pizza, sometimes the dispatcher is sitting at home dispatching it from somewhere else in the country," she says. "Even the IRS helpline folks are (sometimes) working from home."

Telecommuting in this field comes with its own set of challenges, adds Lister. Finding jobs can be difficult with the wealth of work-from-home scams on the Web, and employees must have a quiet space where they work.

"There's a zero-tolerance policy for background noise," she says. Babies crying, dogs barking or doors slamming can mean losing the job.

Health care
Fall ill at a hospital in the U.S. and a transcriptionist in Australia might write up your doc's notes, a specialist in South America could examine your test results, and a top surgeon in Europe could lead the operation by video chat. That's why health care is one of the top fields for telecommuting, says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of Flexjobs.com, a job search site that specializes in telecommute, part-time jobs and positions with flexible schedules.

"The (health care) subcategories that we see the most (telecommuting jobs) in are nursing, pharmaceutical, case management, therapy, medical coding, nutrition and psychiatry," she says. "So much of medicine now is digital. ... You don't have to be in a room looking at an X-ray anymore."

Fell says that telecommuting positions in this field range from data analysts and health care project managers to neurosurgeons who work remotely. Despite the increase in medical telecommute jobs, many positions still require workers to be physically present. To ensure that working from abroad is possible, employees should seek out telecommuting positions and clarify the parameters of telecommuting with their boss upfront.

Graphic design

Workers can create logos, websites, publicity materials and marketing products from any corner of the globe and get paid decently to do so. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 29 percent of graphic designers are self-employed, meaning that many can make their own schedules, and the median pay is $43,500 per year.

Despite the independent nature of the job, many designers work in teams or on collaborative projects. To stay in sync with stateside team members, Jay Mulki says that employees working abroad should focus on communicating clearly, taking active steps to stay in contact with key team members and fulfilling every promise they make in a reasonable time frame.

"You need to come across as a person who is self-disciplined, who can control their work in terms of doing the work and initiating the work ... and be able to access people within the organization," he says.

Training specialists, online instructors, curriculum writers ... the list of telecommuting positions in the education field is extensive. Sara Sutton Fell of Flexjobs.com says that telework education jobs range from language instructors who conduct lessons by phone or video chat to those who work behind the scenes creating and perfecting online teaching tools. The majority of teleworking jobs are available at the college and university levels, she says, "but there's a surprising amount at lower levels or in administrative on the education side."

The trick to landing a telework position is seeing through the scams. To help eliminate ads designed to sap your time and money, Fell recommends using search terms such as "telecommute" and "telecommuting" over "work from home" or "work at home," and carefully investigate companies that post listings for telecommuting jobs.

Administrative managers, support

According to Flexjobs.com, there are currently more telecommute and flexible job positions in administrative work than any other field except medical and health care. Admin jobs may offer the ability to work from anywhere, but salaries are usually low. Workers holding positions such as office managers, financial clerks, bookkeepers, material recording personnel and administrative assistants have median salaries that range from $24,100 for bank tellers to $36,610 for desktop publishers, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Frangipane says that workers in any field who have a job that doesn't allow telecommuting may be able to slowly negotiate a telework option. Frangipane himself started working from home one day per week, then ramped it up to five days over time.

"Once they could see that I had high productivity working from home, then I said, 'Hey, I'm thinking about moving my home,'" he recounts. "Regardless of where you are in the world, if you work the same hours as your office normally expects, then it really doesn't seem to matter much when you move your home a little farther away, like 4,500 miles."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

‘Imperial ambitions’ won’t change Ecuador`s position on Assange - Correa

The mounting pressure on Ecuador after granting Julian Assange asylum, comes from some countries imperial ambitions, Ecuador`s President says. He argued that the UK’s “diplomatic clumsiness” only showcased strong support for Ecuador.
President Rafael Correa gave RT an exclusive interview explaining his country's position concerning Julianne Assange`s case.

RT: Why did Ecuador get involved in all this? By standing up for Julian Assange, the country is exposing itself to risk. According to the media, one of the reasons for the delay in granting asylum to Julian Assange was Ecuador’s fear of a possible US response. Is this true?

Rafael Correa:Not at all. We just wanted to address the request in a very thorough and responsible way. We looked at the motivations for Mr. Assange’s asylum bid. We looked into the charges brought against him in Sweden, we reviewed UK law, as well as international law, and of course we went over our own legislation. Then we made a responsible decision, just as we promised originally, after the Olympics – specifically because they were taking place in London, and not because of fear of reprisals, which we know might follow.. We will always be guided by principles and values, not fear.

RT: What consequences might Ecuador face after granting asylum to Julian Assange?

RC:Normally, such a decision shouldn’t have any consequences – that is, if all countries respect international law, which clearly says that a state has the right to grant asylum. How many times has Sweden granted asylum? A lot of people requested asylum in Sweden and live there now. This country is known for its willingness to give asylum. What consequences could there be? But unfortunately, in this particular case we see that some countries are displaying their colonial and imperial ambitions, their ethnocentricity. It turns out that if Ecuador grants asylum to someone, it suddenly might have consequences. What consequences are we talking about, if we are exercising our sovereignty in line with international law?

RT: Are you afraid of any sanctions that might follow?

RC: There is definitely no fear. But let’s face it, there might be reprisals, which would be terrible. If the UK, for example, acts on its threats and invades our embassy to arrest Assange, can you imagine how big of a precedent this would set?

RT: Mr. President, some media have suggested that the decision to grant asylum to Julian Assange is nothing more than Ecuador’s attempt to improve the country's international image. How do you respond to this allegation?

RC:And what is this international image? I don’t know anything about it. Fortunately, in our country, 75 to 80 percent of the power belongs to the people, no matter what some dishonest and immoral media are trying to say – certain power groups use them to tell lies about what’s going on. They say that there is no freedom of speech in Ecuador. If there was no freedom of speech, how would they be able to communicate this idea? They contradict themselves. The whole world knows that Latin America, including Ecuador, is going through historical changes right now. We are finally witnessing social justice, equality, sovereignty, and dignity. There are some power groups that oppose these changes. Mind you, these groups are very influential; some of them own media outlets. They constantly conduct smear campaigns, trying to discredit our government. I want to ask you a question – how many days have you been in Ecuador?

RT: No more than three, I think.

RC: Have you felt that any of your reports have been banned or censored? Have you felt like there was censorship? Have you been told, for example, that you cannot publish certain stories? Has your access to information been restricted in any way?

RT: Of course, not.

RC: And this is the reality. But these power groups – both national and international – are constantly campaigning against us, trying to discredit our government. Because Ecuador and Latin America are changing, and they are changing for the better – thank God.

RT: Mr. President, in your interviewwith Julian Assange in his programme on our channel you invited him to the club of the persecuted. Do you feel like you’re being persecuted? Are you afraid?

RC: As I’ve said, every day I wake up and have to guess what lies the media will cook up today.In Ecuador, there are six families that own the whole media business, and there are several other major businesses that belong to them. Our new constitutional reform banned the media from being involved in any other business activities except for being the source of information. They called it “infringing on freedom of speech”. We wanted to avoid the conflict of interest, and that was considered “infringing on freedom of speech” as well. Whatever is in line with law and ethics, but is at odds with the interests of the media dictatorship that used to exist in Ecuador is considered “infringing on freedom of speech”. We would like the world to understand what is really going on in Ecuador. The things that the media does here would be unacceptable in such countries as the UK, Russia, the USA. Take, for example, the Murdoch case in the UK. If something similar happened in Ecuador and the people responsible were brought to justice, it would be called “infringing on the freedom of speech”. You have to understand that the media in Latin America has always been very corrupt, it supported the Pinochet regime, the dictatorship in Argentina and so on. Conflicting interests were an everyday occurrence, there was even a clear pattern: having become a successful businessman, you set up your own channel. Not to keep the population informed, but to protect your business interests. Now everything is changing, and I’ve become the target of daily criticism, of regular smear campaigns. No one believes them, though.

RT: When Julian Assange’s mother came to Ecuador, did you have a chance to talk to her?

RC: Yes, of course. Christine is a wonderful person, isn’t she? We gave her a warm welcome, and it was a pleasure to talk to her.

RT: Did her visit to Ecuador influence your decision to grant Julian Assange asylum in any way?

RC: No, it didn’t. Our decision was made in accordance with international law and was based on Ecuador’s traditions of humanism, as well as the grounds that Mr. Assange presented to support his request for political asylum. We met with Christine, she’s a very nice woman, but it in no way influenced our decision.

RT: Mr. President, it’s hard to believe that Julian Assange had no contact with Ecuadorian officials prior to requesting political asylum. Because he needed to be certain that the Ecuadorian embassy would ensure his safety. Did you discuss this option with him beforehand?

RC: No, we didn’t. I didn’t talk to Mr. Assange personally, but, if I’m not mistaken, at some point the situation become so tense that he said he was thinking about seeking asylum in an embassy, perhaps even in Ecuador’s embassy. That was the only thing we discussed before he entered our embassy.

RT: Was he sure he would be allowed to stay when he entered the embassy?

RC: I think Mr Assange discussed it with the embassy staff, since he, I believe, entered after-hours, so they must’ve been expecting him. Any person seeking asylum in Ecuador’s embassies will be safe, we will see to their needs, but after that we will consider granting them asylum with all due thoroughness. If the person in question is a criminal, we will never grant asylum to him.

RT: Why do you think Julian Assange chose Ecuador and not another country?

RC:Only Mr. Assange can answer that. The fact he did is the best response to the smear campaign and to the people who maintain we have no freedom of speech: the man who is‘freedom of speech’ personified requested asylum in Ecuador. It’s the best response to all the lies.

RT: How long do you think it might take? How long will Julian Assange be staying in the embassy?

RC: In theory, indefinitely, unless the UK goes ahead with its threat to raid our embassy to arrest him. As you know, the threat is in written form, and the UK hasn’t revoked it.

RT: Do you think they’d really go as far as that?

RC: I think it would be pure insanity on the part of the UK. After doing so, any of their embassies could be raided, and what will they say then?

RT: What kind of repercussions would such a development have?

RC:We would immediately sever our diplomatic ties, of course. I think it would lead to a backlash in all the Latin American countries, but I maintain that the UK has more to lose. After that, how would they prevent the same from happening to the UK embassies around the world? And I assure you, the UK has more diplomatic missions than Ecuador.

RT: If the UK doesn’t give permission for Julian Assange’s safe passage to Ecuador, how will he get there? In a diplomatic vehicle?

RC: No, it would be impossible. If he leaves the embassy, he can be arrested by the UK police. I am not an expert on this, but I would think that even if you are in a car with diplomatic license plates, you are still at the mercy of the driver, and who knows what he will agree to. In any case, no one is trying to hide Assange from the Swedish prosecution, but we need guarantees that he wouldn’t be extradited to a third country.

RT: Why do you think Sweden refused Ecuador’s proposal to question Assange at the embassy? Even via Skype, as has been done before?

RC: Why? This is a widely accepted legal practice; it has been done many times before. That’s why the Ecuadorian embassy proposed this to the Swedish prosecution. We invited them to come to the embassy and question Assange in person. Isn’t that what they’ve been trying to do all along? They denied our offer, so what are we supposed to think now?

RT: In your opinion, why have Sweden and the UK stood so firm on their position? What are their real motives?

RC: First, it’s absolutely possible and legal. There have been many precedents, many similar cases that prove that Sweden could question Mr Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Second, the UK could extradite Mr Assange on a condition that he would not be then handed over to a third country.Third, Sweden could accept Mr Assange on a condition that he would not be extradited to a third country. Why has this not happened? It’s up to humanity to address this question
RT: Why do you think they haven’t taken any of those options?

RC: I’d rather not say.

RT: So many countries and organizations have supported Ecuador’s decision to grant asylum to Assange, including UNASUR and most of the ALBA nations. In what way did they express their backing?

RC: The support we have enjoyed has been primarily due to Britain’s diplomatic clumsiness – I hope you will excuse my language, but I just cannot find another way to put it. The British threatened us with storming our embassy to arrest Mr Assange. This is what has united all the nations in South America and other continents in their desire to stand behind Ecuador, confronted as it was with such a barbaric prospect. Such threats are unacceptable. Had they been carried out, this would have constituted a violation of one of the fundamental principles of international law: the inviolability of diplomatic premises. It was this threat rather than our eventual asylum decision that has prompted such widespread support in our favor from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas and the Union of South American Nations. And on Friday, foreign ministers of the member nations of the Organization of American States will meet to discuss the issue.

RT: What do you think could happen in the short term? What are the possible scenarios?

RC: I am not an astrologist, I am an economist. A lot will now depend on the UK and Sweden. Our position remains the same. We are open to dialogue. All we want is a guarantee that Mr Assange will only face those charges that were brought against him in Sweden and will not be extradited to a third country. Or they could give him safe passage from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

RT: And the final question, very brief. Will Ecuador stand behind Assange no matter what consequences might follow?

RC: Once we granted asylum to Mr Assange, he is under the protection of Ecuador, and we will do everything to make sure this protection is effective.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ecuador to treat Belarusian same as Assange

QUITO: Ecuador says it will treat a request from Belarus for a former financial crimes investigator to be extradited with the same respect for human rights that guided it in the case of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

''Ecuador will put the emphasis on not extraditing a citizen whose life is at risk, from the death penalty or life in prison,'' said the Deputy Foreign Minister, Marco Albuja.

Less than a year ago an Ecuadorean judge denied a request to extradite Aliaksandr Barankov to Belarus, whose President, Alexander Lukashenko, has been nicknamed ''Europe's last dictator''.

Mr Barankov, 30, says he could be killed if he is sent home as he unearthed corruption at the highest levels of government.

A high court judge's decision on a new extradition request is due in the coming days. Ecuador's President, Rafael Correa, would then have the last word.

Mr Barankov's case came under scrutiny when Ecuador announced last week it was granting Mr Assange asylum because it deemed he ran the risk of being unfairly tried by the US and possibly facing the death sentence.

Mr Barankov arrived in Ecuador in 2009. In 2010 he was imprisoned for two months for overstaying his visa but freed when authorities granted him refugee status. But he was rearrested and sent back to a Quito jail in June, just before Mr Lukashenko visited Ecuador and signed trade agreements.

The former police captain is accused of fraud and extortion in Belarus, accusations he calls trumped up after he uncovered an oil-smuggling ring in which relatives of Mr Lukashenko were involved.

Told of Mr Albuja's statement, Mr Barankov was hopeful. Speaking from prison, he said: ''I want to say that this protects not just my life, but also protects the lives of my parents.''

On Wednesday, Mr Correa said he would not comment on the Barankov case until Judge Carlos Ramirez of the National Court of Justice ruled. A court official said a ruling was expected ''in coming days''.

Mr Lukashenko has ruled Belarus for 18 years by fixing elections, quashing free speech, jailing dissidents and keeping 80 per cent of industry in state hands.

Associated Press

Income Idea: Teach English in Ecuador

By Steve Marchant

I put down the phone, not for the first time that sunny Sunday morning, and gazed out of the wide lounge window that looked out over Quito’s skyline. The rugged eastern cordillera of the Andes shimmered in the distance under a tropical sun.

My plan to make money in Ecuador was working pretty well. A $15 advert in the local El Comercio newspaper advertising my services as an English teacher working al domicilio (at the client’s home/office) had already led to eight phone calls.

In countries like Ecuador, nearly all professionals can further their career by learning English. Plus, middle-class parents want their children to speak English too. There’s no shortage of demand.

I had no qualifications as a teacher but after quickly reading up on lesson plans online, spending $200 on textbooks and putting them together with a large dose of confidence, I was able to launch a new career.

With work flowing in, I was soon ingrained into life in Quito. Working from clients’ homes and offices meant I got to see a lot of the city. I would be buzzed into plush homes and apartments and invariably offered an instant coffee. (Ecuador is home to exquisite Arabica coffee but the locals are in the midst of a confounding love affair with Nescafe.)

Through trial and error, I quickly found out how to teach my own language. It’s tricky at first, but I was delighted to discover that it was enjoyable, too.

I can’t think of a better way to integrate yourself into local society. For many Quiteños, having a private English tutor is quite a coup. They almost wanted to show me off. Suddenly, I had more invites than I could handle. Drinks out with young professionals...visiting school opening days of the children I taught...weekend barbecues on sunny lawns...

The end of the last evening class more than once saw me sat on a sofa downing a Pilsener beer with my student’s family while watching Ecuadorian soccer.

In the years since I arrived, Quito changed dramatically. The economy is booming and despite (or maybe because of) that, the Quiteños still smile and gossip and drink Nescafe.

As Swiss Banks Close Their Doors, Look to Uruguay

By Bob Bauman JD, Offshore and Asset Protection Editor

The “Switzerland of Latin America” – that’s the phrase I used six months ago when I wrote to you from Punta del Este, Uruguay. I was referring to the delightful South American country I was visiting for the first time.

But that catchy phrase was not mine: 61 years ago, in the shattered wake of World War II, Uruguay was described as the "Switzerland of the Americas" in a 1951 New York Times article.

Uruguay earned that unusual name because of its popularity as a safe haven for capital and precious metals fleeing Europe at the time, and for its adoption of careful, Swiss-inspired banking laws and customs.

When I wrote about Uruguay back in March, I got some serious grief from good friends in Switzerland, claiming I had abandoned their country, which I had always called the world’s leading offshore financial center. Well, my friends, I still say that … but Switzerland and the Swiss have got some major problems of their own making – and anyone planning personal financial activities has to keep them in mind.

Money Taking Flight

In the three years since the tawdry UBS-American tax evasion scandal was exposed, Swiss government politicians have tried to shield UBS and other threatened Swiss banks by capitulating to U.S. IRS pressures, too often at the expense of American clients. Thousands of U.S. names have been turned over to the IRS.

In effect, this has all but repealed the 1934 Bank Secrecy Law, ironically even as Swiss courts have upheld that law. As a self-serving byproduct of this, thousands of innocent Americans with Swiss bank accounts suddenly found themselves dumped in a wave of unjustified financial ethnic cleansing by nervous Swiss banks.

The truth is, there are still very solid Swiss banks that do welcome American clients. We know who they are, and we can arrange accounts with very little trouble for our Sovereign Society members.

But Swiss banking experts themselves openly now say that Swiss banks must lure affluent clients from emerging markets or face a slow death as the pursuit of tax dodgers by the U.S. IRS and European tax-collection hounds results in more fleeing assets.

Western Europeans may pull as much as US$139 billion, or 15% of their holdings, from Swiss banks, claims Herbert Hensle of Cap Gemini SA. Bank Sarasin & Cie AG reported last week that private clients withdrew US$308 billion from Swiss locations in the 12 months leading up to June 2012.

Switzerland built the world’s biggest offshore wealth center during an era of “black money” that ended when the U.S. sued UBS three years ago. Many of the highest fee-generating European and U.S. customers are withdrawing funds as the hunt for tax evaders widens.

As many as 100 Swiss banks will vanish, according to Vontobel Chief Executive Officer Zeno Staub. (Vontobel is one of the cooperative Swiss banks with which we work).
Solid and Confidential

By comparison, Uruguay’s banking system is solid, appealing to investors and depositors from around the world who seek a safe haven that also offers tax advantages. Since January 1, 2008, almost 400 banks have failed in the United States … meanwhile, Uruguay’s banks have operated without problems. While the U.S. GDP has shrunk, Uruguay’s continues to grow.

Unlike too many other offshore banks around the world, banks in Uruguay welcome American clients. Most banks offer e-banking, but a personal visit is required to open an account.

Uruguay’s financial reputation has made it an important regional financial center for all Latin America. There are 11 private banks, plus the government central bank, Banco de la República (BROU), that strictly supervises all banks in the country.

The private banks are totally or partially owned by leading American or European financial institutions. Banco Itaú and Lloyds TSB in Montevideo usually accept non-resident American clients in their retail banking branches. In addition, attesting to its regional banking role, there are over 30 representative offices of foreign banks.
Financial Privacy Guaranteed By Law

Unlike the United States, where the PATRIOT Act has destroyed financial privacy, Uruguay’s protection is based on a bank secrecy statute (Law #15,322, 1982) that forbids banks to share information with anyone – including the government of Uruguay and foreign governments.

The only exceptions allowed are in cases involving issues of alimony, child support, or alleged crimes such as foreign tax evasion and fraud. Even then, information can be shared only after obtaining a local court order.

The country does not automatically exchange tax or bank account information with the U.S., Canada or any other government. Uruguay does comply with Article 26 of the Organization for Economic and Community Development’s (OECD) model standards for tax information exchange requests. That is, banks may exchange information upon proof of foreign tax evasion or tax fraud.

In keeping with current international “political correctness,” Uruguay’s government does not want the country labeled as a “tax haven.” Nevertheless, Uruguay is, in fact, an offshore tax haven that imposes very few taxes on foreign residents living here.

Last February, The Sovereign Society held its first "Uruguay Investment Tour" to give people a chance to experience everything this beautiful country has to offer. Our guests had an incredible time learning about unique investment opportunities, as well as about what life is like in Uruguay. The trip was so successful, by popular demand we are taking another 50 guests back in November!

I invite you to join me, Erika Nolan and Jeff Odyke, along with leading Uruguayan experts who will meet with you and explain banking, residence, citizenship, real estate, farm investments, tax-free zones, wines and expat living.

Our second Uruguay Investment Tour is scheduled from Friday, November 9, 2012 through Thursday, November 15. That's springtime in the Southern Hemisphere, and this may be just the escape you will need after the U.S. elections, regardless of who wins.

Until next time,

Bob Bauman

Making Money in a Beachside Paradise

By Chuck Stanley

Long popular with vacationing Ecuadorians, Canoa, on the country’s northern coast, is known as a hot-spot for all sorts of waterborne activities—and many expats fund their new lifestyles by catering to tourism.

It means they get to live in one of the region’s most beautiful stretches of shore with plenty of time to spend between surfing and paragliding.

Pete Stromberg and his wife, Maija, first discovered Canoa during their honeymoon in 2008. Like most young newlyweds, the couple, from Fort Collins, Colorado, were not financially prepared to leave work behind for a life of lying on the beach.

They did, however, have enough saved up to invest in a charming restaurant overlooking the beach where fishermen pass by at night, bringing in the day’s catch.

Today the Surf Shak, run by Pete, Maija, and their two business partners, provides equipment and lessons for paragliding, surfing, and kayaking—as well as some of Ecuador’s finest burgers.

"We just started running scuba diving at the Surf Shak and now we’re doing spear fishing," Pete says. "They’re bringing in some monster fish with the spear guns."

Canoa is beginning to open up the world, and the town itself is growing: "The expat community is made up more of residents rather than investors," explains Pete. "They are the kind of people who are less concerned with how much their property will sell for next year than how to preserve the things they love about this town into the coming decades."

But despite the increase in the number of westerners calling Canoa home, the new arrivals have not brought the high prices found farther north with them.

In the local market, a sack of veggies costs just $5. At beach-side Restaurante Costa Azul, a dinner of pan-fried chicken for two, served with a mountain of seasoned rice, black beans, fried plantains, and spicy house-made sauce called aji, plus a plate of ceviche, all washed down with a cold beer the size of a bottle of wine, costs a little under $12.

Set lunches and breakfasts in restaurants throughout town are about $3 and usually include a drink and soup with the main course.

Newcomers like Pete and Maija have been instrumental in developing the region, which now boasts a bilingual elementary school. The residents also helped fend off a proposed development that would have destroyed sea-turtle nesting grounds.

The couple has discovered their dream life of Pacific sunsets with the scent of fresh fruit and flowers wafting through the air.

Just like the new homes popping up along Canoa’s coastline, no two dreams are exactly alike. But whatever they are, Canoa is a great place to make them come true.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


No, it is not World War II again. However, over 125 police raids were launched last week on the private homes and offices of over 1,000 German citizens for income tax evasion for having secret bank accounts in Liechtenstein.

The German secret police, the Federal Intelligence Services (BND), paid $7.3 Million USD bribe to a disgruntled employee of LGT Bank in Liechtenstein for stolen secret data base of Germans with accounts at the bank. This was a serious violation of Liechtenstein's bank secrecy laws.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück authorized the payment. That is equivalent to the U.S. secretary of State authorizing the CIA to pay a bribe to an official of a European bank to disclose all of the American account holders.

German Chancellor Angela Merkle defended this bribe and threatened Liechtenstein with European Union isolation unless the small nation (population 35,000) eased its strict banking secrecy laws. Germany's population is 82.4 million. Chancellor Merkel, speaking in Berlin after a meeting with Otmar Hasler, Liechtenstein's prime minister, accused the principality's banks of "encouraging lawbreaking" in Germany by offering services allowing tax evasion. She did not address whether bribery by the BND is lawbreaking as well.

German tax officials claimed that their government loses nearly $6 Billion per year to offshore tax havens.

Crown Prince Alois von und zu of Liechtenstein called Germany's intelligence methods and bribes an "attack" on the principality. "Germany has clearly failed to understand how one behaves toward a friendly state,'' Alois said. "Germany won't solve the problems of its tax system with this attack on Liechtenstein,'' he added.

"If media reports are to be believed, German authorities paid a criminal to obtain stolen data,'' Alois said. "We reject this action." Alois also praised the laws Liechtenstein has passed since 2000 to enhance transparency and combat money laundering. Still, he said, the country won't surrender its policy of strict bank secrecy and would continue to welcome German investors.

Bank secrecy is part of Liechtenstein's "basic attitude and tradition," as the country's website states. Financial institutions in Liechtenstein strictly reject all requests for account information from German or any other tax investigators, but they do cooperate in tax fraud investigations.

The United State's IRS is asking Germany for access to this stolen bank account data to see if any of their citizens have secret bank accounts.

Liechtenstein is not a member of the 27 country European Union. However, it has partly committed to the EU's economy and regulations by becoming a member of a single economic market through the European Economic Area (EEA) that includes use of the Euro currency.

According to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, the European Economic Area (EEA) was created in January of 1994 following an agreement between three member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the European Community (EC), and the European Union (EU). It allows these EFTA countries to participate in the European Single Market without joining the EU.

European influences over Liechtenstein and other neighboring countries (like Switzerland) by EU members wishing to stop their citizens from banking offshore to collect more taxes makes Panama more attractive.

Panama is a sovereign nation with no tax treaties with the USA, Canada, or EU members. Panama's anonymous offshore corporation laws have been in existence since 1927. Panama's bank secrecy laws are amongst the strictest in the world.

While no tax haven country can guarantee that EU nations won't bribe bank employees for a list of their depositors, the criminal penalties for violating Panama's corporate and bank secrecy laws are strict enough to discourage such temptations.

Panama Offshore Legal Services offers anonymous "bearer" share corporations, Private Interest Foundations, and secret bank account introductions at much lower prices than European tax havens and you don't have to worry that the German government will bribe Panama bankers.

Panama Offshore Legal Services

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Startling Evidence That Central Banks And Wall Street Insiders Are Rapidly Preparing For Something BIG

If you want to figure out what is going to happen next in the financial markets, carefully watch what the insiders are doing. Those that are “connected” have access to far better sources of information than the rest of us have, and if they hear that something big is coming up they will often make very significant moves with their money in anticipation of what is about to happen. Right now, Wall Street insiders and central banks all around the globe are making some very unusual moves. In fact, they appear to be rapidly preparing for something really big. So exactly what are they up to? In a previous article entitled “Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?“, I speculated that they may be preparing for a financial meltdown of some sort. As I noted in that article,more than 600 banking executives have resigned from their positions over the past 12 months, and I have been personally told that a substantial number of Wall Street bankers have been shopping for “prepper properties” this summer. But now even more evidence has emerged that quiet preparations are being made for an imminent financial collapse. That doesn’t guarantee that something will happen or won’t happen. Like any good detective, we are gathering clues and trying to figure out what the evidence is telling us.

Why Is George Soros Selling So Much Stock And Buying So Much Gold?

I am certainly not a fan of George Soros. He has funneled millions upon millions of dollars into organizations that are trying to take America in the exact wrong direction.

However, I do recognize that he is extremely well connected in the financial world. Soros is almost always ahead of the curve on financial matters, and if something big is going to go down George Soros is probably going to know about it ahead of time.

That is why it is very alarming that he has dumped all of his banking stocks and that he is massively hoarding gold. The following is from shtfplan.com….

In a harbinger of what may be coming our way in the Fall of 2012, billionaire financier George Soros has sold all of his equity positions in major financial stocks according to a 13-F report filed with the SEC for the quarter ending June 30, 2012.

Soros, who manages funds through various accounts in the US and the Cayman Islands, has reportedly unloaded over one million shares of stock in financial companies and banks that include Citigroup (420,000 shares), JP Morgan (701,400 shares) and Goldman Sachs (120,000 shares). The total value of the stock sales amounts to nearly $50 million.

What’s equally as interesting as his sale of major financials is where Soros has shifted his money. At the same time he was selling bank stocks, he was acquiring some 884,000 shares (approx. $130 million) of Gold via the SPDR Gold Trust.

Why would you dump over a million shares of stock in major banks and purchase more than 100 million dollars worth of gold?

Well, it would make perfect sense if you believed that a collapse of the financial system was about to happen.

Earlier this year, George Soros told the following to Newsweek….

“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”

It looks like he is putting his money where his mouth is.

Perhaps even more disturbing is what he believes is coming after the financial collapse….

As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”

That doesn’t sound good.

George Soros has told us what he believes is going to happen, and now he is making moves with his money that indicate that he is convinced that it is actually about to start happening.

But he is not the only one that has been busy accumulating gold.

Billionaire John Paulson (the one that made 20 billion dollars on the subprime mortgage meltdown) has been buying gold like crazy and his company now “has 44 percent of its $24 billion fund exposed to bullion.”

So why are Soros and Paulson buying up so much gold?

Central Banks Are Also Hoarding Gold

According to the World Gold Council, the amount of gold bought by the central banks of the world absolutely soared during the second quarter of 2012. The 157.5 metric tons of gold bought by the central banks of the world last quarter was an increase of 62.9 percent from the first quarter of 2012 and a 137.9 percent increase from the second quarter of 2011.

Prior to 2009, the central banks of the world had been net sellers of gold for about two decades. But now that has totally changed, and last quarter central banks stocked up on gold in quantities that we have not seen before….

At 157.5 metric tons, gold buying among central banks came in at its highest quarterly level since the sector became a net buyer of the precious metal in the second quarter of 2009, data in the organization’s quarterly Gold Demand Trends report show.

So why have the central banks of the world become such gold bugs?

Is there something they aren’t telling us?

Rampant Insider Selling

Wall Street insiders have been dumping a whole lot of stock this year.

In my previous article, I linked to a CNN article from back in April….

First quarter earnings have been decent, if not spectacular. And many corporate executives are issuing cautiously optimistic guidance for the rest of the year.

But while insiders’ lips are saying one thing, their wallets are saying another. The level of insider selling among S&P 500 (SPX) companies is the highest in nearly 10 years. That is not good.

A lot of insiders appear to be getting out at the top of the market while the getting is still good.

Other insiders appear to be bailing out before the bottom falls out from beneath them.

Just check out what has been happening to Facebook stock. It hit another new record low on Thursday as insiders dumped stock. The following is from a CNN article….

Facebook’s life as a public company has been a nightmare from day one, and the pain continued on Thursday as some company insiders got their first chance to dump shares.

Facebook stock hit a new intra-day low of $19.69 Thursday morning, and ended the day 6.3% lower at $19.87.

Sadly, Facebook has now lost close to half of its value since the IPO.

Will Facebook end up being the poster child for the irrational stock market bubble that we have seen over the past couple of years?

Overall, retail investors have been very busy pulling money out of stocks in recent weeks.

The following are the net inflows to equity funds over the past five weeks (in millions of dollars) according to ICI….

7/11/2012: -537

7/18/2012: 637

7/25/2012: -2,999

8/1/2012: -6,866

8/8/2012: -3,684

According to the figures above, more than 10 billion dollars has been pulled out of equity funds over the past two weeks alone.

So does this mean anything?


Maybe not.

But it is very interesting and it bears watching.

Why Does The U.S. Government Need So Much Ammunition?

In my previous article, I also noted that the U.S. government appears to be very rapidly making preparations for something really big.

This week, it was revealed that the Social Security Administration plans to buy 174,000 hollow point bullets which will be delivered to 41 different locations all over America.

Now why in the world does the Social Security Administration need 174,000 bullets?

And why do they need hollow point bullets? Those bullets are designed to cause as much damage to internal organs as possible.

But of course this is only the latest in a series of very large purchases of ammunition by U.S. government agencies. The following is from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson….

Back in March, Homeland Security purchased 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage, prompting questions as to why the DHS needed such a large amount of powerful bullets merely for training purposes.

This was followed by another DHS solicitation asking for a further 750 million rounds of assorted bullets, including 357 mag rounds that are able to penetrate walls.

Now why in the world would the government need over a billion rounds of ammunition?

If it was the U.S. military I could understand this. You can burn through a whole lot of ammunition fighting wars.

But this makes no sense – unless they believe that big trouble is coming.

Personally, I wouldn’t blame them for getting prepared. Our economy continues to fall apart and there are signs of social decayeverywhere around us.

The American people are more frustrated and more angry than at any other time in modern history. This upcoming election is only going to cause Americans to become even more angry and even more divided.

All it would take is just the right “spark” to cause this country to erupt.

It could be the upcoming election.

It could be the collapse of the financial system.

Or it might be something else.

But the conditions are definitely there for it to happen.

Unfortunately, the American public is never told to prepare because authorities never want “to panic” the general population.

We are always the last to know, and that stinks.

So don’t wait for someone to come on the television and announce that a crisis is happening.

If you wait that long, it will be too late.

Instead, open up your eyes and think

for yourself.

We all need to work hard to get prepared for the coming crisis while we still can.

As you can see, Wall Street insiders, the U.S. government and the central banks of the world are busy getting prepared.

Don’t put your head in the sand.

The warning signs are there and time is running out.

Author: Michael Snyder
Views: Read by 28,182 people
Date: August 17th, 2012
Website: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

Ecuadoreans rally behind president over Assange asylum

QUITO (Reuters) - Hundreds of Ecuadoreans marched on Monday in support of the government's decision to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a saga that could help President Rafael Correa win re-election.

 Ecuador is outraged at Britain for threatening to enter its embassy in London where the Australian anti-secrecy campaigner -- faced with extradition to Sweden for questioning over rape and sexual assault accusations -- has taken refuge.

There is also a wider power game at play between Ecuador and the bloc of left-wing Latin American governments it belongs to, and the United States.

Correa supports Assange's claim that he is at risk of being sent to the United States for punishment over WikiLeaks' 2010 release of a deluge of U.S. diplomatic cables and secret army documents.

"We're here to support the timely and correct decision to grant asylum to Julian Assange and also to reject the hostile reaction of Great Britain in cahoots with United States," said Betty Wanda, a 28-year-old lawyer, among a crowd outside the presidential palace in Quito on Monday.

Correa is already very popular and appears to be drawing more support with his stance on Assange. He has portrayed the standoff with London as a principled struggle between a small nation against a "colonial power".

In power since 2007, and widely praised for high spending on roads, hospitals and schools, the 49-year-old Correa is expected to run for re-election in February 2013.

There have been small protests outside the British Embassy in the Andean nation's highland capital, and graffiti has sprung up showing support for Correa.

Ecuador might take the case to the International Court of Justice, but would first try to convince London that it should allow Assange to travel to the South American country or give him guarantees he would not be extradited to the United States.

"We're states with responsible governments that can negotiate directly about this problem. We have always been open to negotiations with the British and Swedish governments," Correa told state-run television on Monday night.

Correa's government, however, says there have been no talks since August 15.


The ALBA bloc of left-wing Latin American governments, founded in 2004 by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba's then-leader Fidel Castro, and the UNASUR group of South American nations have both given Ecuador strong backing in the dispute over Assange.

 "If there's something that many people agree with, it is the dislike, even the visceral hate of 'the empire'. The anti-American sentiment brings us together, the phobia of everything that is or may be 'gringo', and, by extension, European," columnist Fabian Corral, who is often critical of Correa, wrote in Ecuador's El Commercio

The information released by WikiLeaks laid bare Washington's under-the-table power-broking around the world. The leaked cables on Ecuador included accusations that Correa's government turned a blind eye to police corruption, and he responded by expelling the U.S. ambassador in the small oil-producing nation.

Correa is a feisty leader who never shies away from a fight, be it with international bondholders, oil companies, local bankers, the Catholic Church or media organizations that criticize his policies.

He has been widely criticized for his hostility toward Ecuadorean media, but he says they are controlled by big business and are intent on weakening his government. Supporters say the decision to grant asylum to Assange demonstrates Correa's support for free expression.

Many at the rally on Monday wore multi-color bandannas with images of Assange and the message: "Without real freedom of expression, there will not be sovereignty."

"I back the president 100 percent because I believe that there's freedom of expression in Ecuador. But there must also be freedom of expression at the international level and a journalist that has had as much significance as Assange must not be censored," said Christian Cuchi, 27.

State-run media have for weeks run stories portraying Assange as a champion of media freedom.

Yet after Assange was hired earlier this year by Russia Today (RT), a Kremlin-sponsored English-language TV channel, some rights groups stopped considering the Australian as a friend of freedom of expression.

"So here he (Assange) is aligning himself with one of the greatest adversaries of press freedom in the world that is Putin and then also one of the greatest adversaries of freedom of the press in South America, that is Correa," Arch Puddington, vice president for research at Freedom House, told Reuters.

"Correa is doing this because he and Assange share strong anti-American views and I think that is the rationale behind what Correa is doing, not an effort to ingratiate himself with press freedom organizations around the world."

From Correa to the Queen...."The days of Colonization are over"

Ecuador Hardens Stance Over Assange

QUITO, (AFP) - Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa on Saturday slammed what he called Britain's ''vulgar threats'' to remove WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the London embassy where he has been granted asylum.

''Never, as long as I am president, will Ecuador accept threats like these, which are absolutely vulgar, inconsiderate and intolerable,'' Correa said in a weekly statement.

''We will not give up our sovereignty. We respect everyone, and we are always seeking dialogue, but the final decision is ours.''

On Wednesday, Ecuador said it had been informed in writing that Britain was willing to seize Assange from the embassy in order to extradite him to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about sexual assault allegations.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday that his government was obliged under its own laws to extradite the Australian national to Sweden.

''No one, least of all the government of Ecuador, should be in any doubt that we are determined to carry out our legal obligation,'' Hague told reporters.

Assange says he fears Sweden will extradite him to the United States, which views WikiLeaks as a threat to its national security following the leak of a trove of secret front-line military reports and confidential embassy cables.

Assange took refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London on June 19 after exhausting all legal appeals against the extradition.

Ecuador has granted Assange's request for asylum, but with British police posted outside the embassy it is unclear whether he will be able to leave the building.

Assange plans to make a public statement on the case on Sunday at 1300 GMT, according to a spokesman, who declined to provide any further details.

The Organization of American States has meanwhile called a meeting of foreign ministers for August 24 to discuss the Assange case and the widening diplomatic row between Quito and London.

The latest property deals from Dom "Good friend" Buonamici

Here are a few of the most intriguing property deals I found for sale over the past week here in Ecuador:

-$60k, Mindo, Unfinished Hotel/B&B For Sale in final stages of construction, 8 bedrooms, 9 baths, 320 m2 (3444 ft2) of construction, call 099980808 for more info. My take: I like Mindo, its situated in a beautiful cloud rainforest near Quito and Mindo is one of Ecuador's prime tourist destinations great for a nature lodge or hotel.

-$42k, Quito 2 bedr Apartment near the UDLA University and the Quicentro Mall in the north of Quito. Call 098173250 for more. My take: In one of the top areas in the north of Quito, and where both locals and foreigners want to be, plus you're near the university so you could always rent to students if you had to, and the price is hard to find for this area.

-From $48k, Salinas 2-bedroom Condo with Pool Access, gym, private parking, elevator, security, 50 meters from the Beach with ocean view from the rooftop common lounge area, for more call 089761881. My take: Get near the beach with a bunch of amenities at a reasonsable price for the area.

Dom Buonamici
Traveler, Investor,

Britain under pressure on Assange asylum

LONDON: Britain came under pressure on Monday after Ecuador’s South American neighbours backed Quito’s decision to grant Julian Assange asylum, as he remained a virtual prisoner in its London embassy.

Foreign ministers of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), meeting in Ecuador’s biggest city Guayaquil, expressed “solidarity” with the decision to give asylum to the WikiLeaks founder, whose anti-secrecy website has enraged Washington.

They also declared support for Ecuador over the “threat of violation of its diplomatic mission”, a reference to Britain highlighting an obscure 1987 law under which its police could enter the embassy and extract Assange.

A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting did however urge Ecuador and Britain “to pursue dialogue in search of a mutually acceptable solution”.

The British government reiterated that it would not grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador, but said it was seeking a diplomatic solution.

Assange made a defiant appearance from the balcony of the Ecuador embassy on Sunday, accusing the United States of conducting a “witch hunt” against WikiLeaks and praising Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa’s “courage”. Assange walked into the embassy two months ago to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of rape and molestation made by two female WikiLeaks volunteers.

He made no direct reference to the allegations in his speech on Sunday, which was made from the balcony because Britain has said he will be arrested if he sets foot outside the embassy.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman said Britain was “obliged” to carry out the extradition of the 41-year-old Australian to Sweden, but added that the government was still trying to find a solution through diplomacy.

“Under our law, having exhausted all the options of appeal, we are obliged to extradite him to Sweden. It is our intention to carry out that obligation,” the spokesman said.

“We will continue talking to the Ecuadoran government and others to try to find a diplomatic solution.” Assange and his supporters say the allegations in Sweden are politically motivated and that he will eventually be extradited to the United States.

WikiLeaks angered the United States by releasing tens of thousands of classified documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as often unflattering reports of US diplomats’ views on world leaders.

Assange on Sunday called for US soldier Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the trove of secret government documents leaked by WikiLeaks, to be released from a military prison, claiming he had undergone harsh treatment in detention.

Addressing around 200 of his supporters who came to hear the speech in an upmarket district of London, Assange criticised the suggestion that Britain could revoke the embassy’s diplomatic status and enter the building.

“If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, that is because the world was watching,” he claimed.

He also alleged that on the day before he was granted asylum he could hear “teams of police swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape”. The embassy occupies a small part of the red-brick mansion block.

Britain insists it never threatened to invade the building and merely made the Ecuadoran government aware of the existence of the law.

Britain is already at loggerheads with UNASUR member Argentina, which claims sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. -- AFP

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Escape to Ecuador: top 10 holiday guide

If Julian Assange makes it to Ecuador, he won't be short of travel options. This country packs an astonishing array of landscapes, wildlife and indigenous cultures into an area the size of Britain

Ben Westwood
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 15 August 2012 10.34 BST

The Presidential Palace in Quito Old Town, Ecuador. Photograph: Daniel Valla FRPS/Alamy

Surrounded by Andean peaks, Quito's setting is enough to make anyone forget their troubles. The Unesco-listed historic, colonial Old Town is a maze of churches, plazas and narrow streets, perfect for getting lost in. Anyone with issues with the corporate multinational machine should make a beeline for the presidential palace – Carondelet Palace – which socialist Rafael Correa opened up to the public after becoming president in 2007. Of particular interest are the gifts of indigenous clothing and artwork on display from Correa's pal Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.

North of the Old Town is the Palacio Legislativo. When the government is not in session you can take a guided tour (entrance $5) to marvel at the mural depicting the sufferings of indigenous people complete with an evil-looking face wearing a helmet labelled CIA. The fact that the unveiling of the painting in 1988 caused the US ambassador to storm out of the room will be an added attraction for anyone wanting to stick it to The Man. The city tour is completed by visiting the masterwork of the artist Oswaldo Guayasamín (completed following his death in 1999) at La Capilla del Hombre, high above the New Town. The massive dome ceiling is covered in depictions of the indigenous workers who died in the Bolivian mine of Potosí. Other highlights include the gigantic Bull and Condor, symbolising the struggles between Spain and South America, and La Ternura, a tender embrace of a mother and child.

The Llanganati Mountains
In 1532, the conquistadors held Inca leader Atahualpa for ransom, only to execute him before the largest portion of the treasure could arrive. This vast amount of gold and silver was spirited away by Inca porters into the rain-drenched mire of the Llanganati Mountains in Ecuador's central highlands. Ever since, adventurers have tried to locate it, often with fatal consequences, leading to the legend that the gold and the region that enclosed it were cursed. If you do go in search of treasure, make sure you take a guide, which can be hired in nearby Baños for $80 per day with Geotours (groups of four minimum, geotoursbanios.com). Alternatively, it's the ideal place to disappear without a trace.

Stay with Shuar Indians
Shuar Indian man fishing. Photograph: Guillermo Granja/Corbis

Don't mess with the Shuar – traditional greetings among men include "I see you're still alive". This infamously fierce tribe was the bane of Spanish invaders – they apparently poured molten gold down the throat of a unpopular Spanish governor in 1599 in a gruesome version of poetic justice by satisfying his thirst for gold. Descendants of the Jivaro tribe, split across Ecuador and Peru, the Shuar were performers of the headshrinking ritual, where the lips and eyes of an enemy are sewn shut before the head is shrunk and the soul supposedly destroyed. You can learn about Shuar communities by taking a tour from the southern jungle near the town of Macas. Stays can be arranged in town with Insondu Mundo Shuar from $50 per night. Needless to say, don't lose your head and attempt to venture into Shuar territory alone. More information on the tourist board website (in Spanish).
Canoa beach town

Montañita is Ecuador's version of Goa with stoned rastas and tanned surfers transforming this cramped beach town into a hippy haven. Head further north to Canoa, a smaller, more laidback resort with a long beach for a quieter place to ride the waves, sip cocktails and forget your troubles. While the 1998 El Niño shrank the beach at Montañita, it actually grew in Canoa. Stay at Coco Loco (from $8pppn) or Hotel Bambu (from $12pppn).

Ten miles north of Canoa Rio Muchacho is an organic farm producing fruit, vegetables, jams, coffee and chocolate. A one-day tour costs $30pp or stay there for three days ($120pp), ride horses into the forest, catch freshwater shrimp and make your own organic dinner.

Andean adventures
Try out zip-lining in Mindo in the cloud forest two hours north-west of Quito with Mindo Canopy Adventure. Thirteen zip-lines cost $10. Other adventure options include tubing – racing down river rapids sitting in an inflatable tube. Alternatively, head five hours south-east of Quito to tackle whitewater rafting in the jungle town of Tena. British-run River People and Quito-based Rios Ecuador are good local operators. The river Misahualli is the most tempestuous (Class IV), and certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Floreana, Galápagos Islands

Sea lion swimming off Floreana Island. Photograph: Ralph Lee Hopkins/National Geographic Society/Corbis
While Ecuador beat off half-hearted claims from the US and Britain to claim the Galápagos in 1832, the developed world has still left an indelible mark here. The US navy used Baltra as an air base in the second world war and used the famous Pinnacle Rock for target practice. A lesser known chapter of history is the series of strange disappearances among a small German community on the island of Floreana in the 1930s. A baroness arrived on the island with three lovers and quickly ruffled feathers with her eccentric antics. She and her lover suddenly disappeared one night and both of the chief suspects ended up dead in the next few months. To delve deeper into this cold case, stay at the Pension Wittmer on Floreana, run by the son of an original settler, Margaret Wittmer. The hotel has bungalows overlooking the beach from $30pp. Floreana itself is the oldest inhabited Galápagos island and has a giant tortoise centre in the highlands. Other highlights include flocks of flamingos at Punta Cormorant, snorkelling with sea lions at Champion islet and world's quirkiest postbox at Post Office Bay, originally launched by homesick sailors in 1793. Visit the Galápagos national park at galapagospark.org for further information.

Taking a dance class is a great way to meet people. In Quito try Academia Salsa and Merengue in the district of Mariscal (classes from $6pp). Once you've honed your skills, head to discos Seseribo (on Veintimilla y Avenida 12 de Octubre, Edificio El Girón) or Mayo 68 (on Lizardo García 662 y Juan León Mera). In contrast to many other Quito discos, which pump out electronic and international music, these specialise in salsa and merengue.

Another great place for a party is the coastal city of Guayaquil where it's as hot and steamy outside as inside the clubs. Tear it up at Cali Salsoteca (on Panamá 418 y Tomás Martínez) or the huge dancefloor of Jardin de la Salsa (on Av de las Américas). If you can't get the hang of salsa's complex rhythm, the new craze in Ecuador is the Caribbean techno-reggae fusion of reggaeton. Bumping and grinding is obligatory and there are countless discos to shake your booty at. Caña Grill in Montañita (on Guido Chiriboga y Costanera a la Playa) is a popular spot or try Bungalow 6 (on cnr Calama & Almagro) in Quito.

Yasuni national park

Napo Wildlife Center, Yasuni National Park. Photograph: Prisma Bildagentur AG/Alamy
Ecuador is one of the world's most biodiverse countries with more species of plants (25,000) than the entire continent of North America and one-sixth of the world's bird species. Much of this is in the jungle, but the country's slice of the Amazon has a troubled history. Yasuni national park in the north-east of the country, bordering Peru, is a biodiversity hotspot that sits on an estimated one billion barrels of oil. The Ecuadorian government is holding off drilling in return for compensation for preserving the rainforest, but for how long, nobody knows. See it while you can on a four-day jungle tour. Highlights include views of the forest canopy on 40-metre-high observation towers, night walks to tarantula holes and flocks of parakeets descending daily from the canopy to drink at the clay licks near Napo Wildlife Centre. Watch out for hawks circling overhead. Stay at La Selva Jungle Lodge (laselvajunglelodge.com, four days from $699pp) or Napo Wildlife Centre (napowildlifecenter.com, four days $760pp).

Nobody parties like Latinos and Ecuador has raucous festivals every month, so whenever you visit there's an excuse to party. New Year includes the ritual burning of a symbol of the Año Viejo (Old Year) – anything from the President to TV characters such as Homer Simpson. Carnival, marking the beginning of Lent in February or March, is a four-day party. The best indigenous celebrations are in the highland towns of Ambato and Guaranda, while every beach resort in Ecuador is heaving. But for something a little different, head to Latacunga, an indigenous highland town with a colonial centre and friendly locals, for the Mama Negra (black mother) celebrations held in September and November, the latter of which is most raucous and lasts a week. This bizarre mix of Catholic, indigenous and African rituals originated from the town's pleas to be saved from destruction by nearby volcano Cotopaxi. Parades involve poets, musicians, transvestites and witches. The centerpiece is the arrival of a black-faced Mama (a man) who sprays the crowd with water and milk, supposedly symbolising fertility. Stay at backpacker favourite Hostal Tiana (from $10pppn).

Panama hats
Traditional Panama hats in Cuenca. Photograph: Danita Delimont/Alamy

Panama hats are from Ecuador. The misnomer is a sore point for locals and an American president is largely to blame. During the construction of the Panama canal, thousands of these hats were exported by the Ecuadorian government for the toiling workers. US president Theodore Roosevelt was pictured wearing one and they were dubbed "Panama Hats" by the world's media and the name stuck. You'll struggle to find a better handmade hat anywhere else. To see how they're made visit the Museo del Sombrero on Calle Larga in the highland city of Cuenca, where production is biggest. However, the hats actually originated from Montecristi on the central coast. Prices range from US$15-$20 for a standard hat to more than $200 for the famous superfinos, which should last a lifetime if well-treated. Good spots to buy include Homero Ortega's store in the centre of Cuenca, but the best deals are directly from the Atma factory in the village of Sigsig, about 40 miles south-east of Cuenca. Here superfinos sell for just $80. Of course, aside from their aesthetic value, hats are the ideal disguise for those wishing to keep a low profile.

• Ben Westwood is author of the Moon guide to Ecuador and Galapagos

From Dom in Ecuador.....the latest property deals

Here are a few of the most intriguing property deals I found for sale over the past week here in Ecuador:

Important disclaimer: I have NO AFFILIATION with the sellers so contact the sellers directly AT YOUR OWN RISK... I just caught word of the deal one way or another but no due diligence has been done!  Chances are the sellers only speak Spanish.  Be sure to check the property out thoroughly before buying like i describe in my complete guide.

 -$27k, Atacames suite for sale with pool access, 40 m2 (430 ft2) Call 098910282 for more.  My take: The price is right and Atacames is a beautiful, under-rated beach on the northern Ecuadorian coast.
 -$38k, 2 bedroom House on 1000 m2 (10,763 ft2) lot in Yunguilla Valley near Cuenca, near Dan Antonio entry point, for more info call 086442929.  My take: A good sized lot for a bit of hobby farming with a townhome in this warm country valley near Cuenca. 

-$112k, 28 hectare (69.18 acres) Cocoa, banana, tropical fruit farm near Santa Rosa for sale for $4k per hectare, call 088288138 for more.  My take: Like you should do before buying any farm, you should check out the current state of the water supply and true productivity level of the farm with the help of an expert, but at only $4k a hectare the price and area are pretty good.  I've seen most farms in full production in this area of Ecuador usually ask around $8-15k per hectare. 

 Dom Buonamici
 Investor, Entrepreneur, Resident of Ecuador

Ecuador Calls Regional Summit To Counter British Threats To Embassy Over Assange

By Eric Linton: Subscribe to Eric's RSS feed
August 16, 2012 8:40 PM EDT

Ecuador said Thursday night the Union of South American Nations has called an emergency meeting to discuss British threats to seize WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from inside its embassy in London.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa granted Assange asylum Thursday morning, two months after he took refuge in the embassy.

The 12-nation group, known as Unasur, will hold a meeting of foreign ministers Sunday in the Ecuadorian coastal city of Guayaquil, according to a statement published Thursday in the country's presidential gazette, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Wednesday he also requested an emergency meeting of the Washington-based Organization of American States, as well as the Venezuelan-led group of nations known as ALBA.

Ecuador accused the UK Wednesday of threatening to "assault" its embassy in London and arrest Assange, who is seeking sanctuary in the South American nation. On Thursday, Assange was granted asylum over British objections, setting up a confrontation with Britain after it said it would not allow him safe passage out of the country.

"The unauthorized entry of any British authority into the Ecuadorian Embassy compound would be a flagrant violation" of international treaties protecting diplomatic missions, the statement said.

Ecuador leader stakes claim to moral superiority

Aug. 17, 2012, 12:16 p.m. | World — by Associated Press

In this photo released by Ecuador's Presidency, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, center, waves before flying by plane to the Ecuadorean city of Loja at the airport in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012. Ecuador would grant asylum to WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange two months after he took refuge in its London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning for alleged sexual misconduct.
© AP

LIMA, Peru — Rafael Correa is a committed leftist and former lay missionary whose first run at elected office was his successful 2006 election as Ecuador's president.

He is also a U.S.- and European-educated economist who tempers his trademark impulsiveness with high calculation. His decision to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum Thursday was anything but an emotional roll of the dice.

Correa, 49, knew he would likely deeply offend the United States, Britain and Sweden and likely the European Union. He also knew he would be inviting commercial and political retaliation that might hurt his small petroleum-exporting nation of 14 million people.

No such retaliation has yet come, though Britain says it won't allow Assange safe passage out of the country. Sweden, where Assange is wanted for questioning for alleged sexual misconduct, summoned Ecuador's ambassador to issue a stern protest.

Offering asylum to the man responsible for the biggest-ever spilling of U.S. secrets was apparently too attractive for Correa to resist. It let him stake a claim to moral high ground, associating himself with a man whose loyalists consider him a digital age Robin Hood crusading against abuses of big governments and corporations.

U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, a ranking member of the U.S. House's Western Hemisphere subcommittee, has met Correa several times and believes he understands the wager.

"He's a very smart guy and this wasn't done in a vacuum," Engel, a New York Democrat, said. "The reason is to kind of be the head of the poke-the-United States-in-the-eye group."

He was referring to the alliance that includes Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Argentina and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whose longevity is in question after a bout with cancer.

"It's not just done because Julian Assange should have freedom or shouldn't be persecuted," Engel said of Correa. "If that were the case, why is he persecuting his own journalists?"

Correa was why the director of Ecuador's main opposition newspaper did some asylum-seeking of his own early this year, holing up in Panama's embassy in Quito for 14 days when Ecuador's high court upheld a criminal defamation ruling against him and other top editors.

Correa later pardoned them and forgave a $42 million damage award against the paper, but free press and human rights groups say the Ecuadorean leader remains a threat to any speech not to his liking.
He has also used media ownership restrictions enacted by a loyal congress to gag opposition-owned media that he claims are corrupt and intent on destroying him.

Political scientist Vicente Torrijos of Universidad del Rosario in Colombia said giving Assange asylum provides Correa with "a huge smokescreen to try to hide his treatment of the press."

Torrijos called it "propagandistic pragmatism," which he said is apt to play well among people who like to cheer on anyone who stands up to the United States and its allies.

Such people have played a big role in electing leftist leaders all across South America over the past decade such as Evo Morales in Bolivia and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina.

Marta Lagos, director of the Chile-based Latinobarometro polling firm, said she found it remarkable how Correa seized an opportunity to become standard-bearer of the sovereignty of little nations fed up with the sometimes imperious U.S. meddling in Latin America exposed in 2010 when WikiLeaks unleashed a quarter million cables sent home by Washington's diplomats.

"It makes the world bigger," she said. "There have been very few times when an emerging, underdeveloped country like Ecuador has committed an international political act of this potency."
Correa was a big cheerleader of that effort and he and Assange shared a clear affinity in May when the former Australian hacker interviewed Correa for his Kremlin-funded TV program.

"Your WikiLeaks have made us stronger," he told Assange.

One cable published by WikiLeaks prompted Correa to expel a U.S. ambassador in 2010 for alleging a former Ecuadorean police chief was corrupt and suggesting Correa had looked the other way.

Still, Correa has never been a shrill critic of Washington, though he has courted U.S. global counterweights like Russia, Iran and China. The latter is now Ecuador's main lender and buys most of its oil.

But he has cultivated a reputation as a diplomatic maverick, boycotting a regional summit in Colombia in April to protest Washington's continued insistence on excluding Cuba.

Correa is up for re-election in February and his approval ratings top 70 percent, in large part due to generous public spending that has made him popular with the lower class.