El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ecuador Minister Acknowledges Presence of Foreign Drug Cartels

Blog Note: Is there anyone living in Ecuador surprised by this news? With all respect Sr. Cordova....you yourself resemble the kind of character one sees on movies like "Scarface".
Ecuadorean Vice-minister for Security Javier Cordova Ecuadorean Vice-minister for Security Javier Cordova
A top official from Ecuador has publically acknowledged the presence of transnational criminal groups from Colombia and Mexico, but insisted the country is only used to transit drugs, despite evidence of grrowing drug production.

Speaking during an interview on ECTV (see video below), Vice-minister for Internal Security Javier Cordova named Colombia's Rastrojos and Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel specifically and said, "it's evident these criminal groups have branches in our country." However, he went on to say, "our country has never been a drug producer," adding "drugs are not processed and coca leaves are not produced in our country."

Cordova went on to laud the "very good" permanent cooperation with neighbors Colombia and Peru, as well as Mexico. Highlighting the importance of such alliances, Cordova says, "If we claimed or believed that we could carry out an effective fight against drug trafficking alone, we would be wrong."

InSight Crime Analysis

The presence of Colombian and Mexican organized crime in Ecuador has long been reported, however such an admission from a high level government official like Cordova is unusual.

In recent years, the Rastrojos have been considered the dominant underworld force in the country, however their preeminence seems to have slipped, with recent major drug hauls linked to Colombian rivals the Urabeños. Meanwhile, the Sinaloa Cartel's growing involvement has been underscored by the recent captures of a key operative and a former army captain accused of working with the Mexicans. 

While the Rastrojos are now generally perceived to be in terminal decline as an organization with national reach, the arrest in August in Ecuador of one of the group's key regional leaders demonstrated their continued activity in the country. According to a security services source consulted by InSight Crime in Colombia's third-largest city Cali, a traditional stronghold for the group, "there is no visible head of the Rastrojos, but drugs are still being moved by Rastrojos elements."

Despite Cordova's assurances that Ecuador has so far not become a site of drug production or processing, opium poppy crops have previously been discovered in the country, while there have been numerous discoveries of small scale coca cultivation near the Colombian border likely linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which maintain a strong presence on both sides of the border.

Ecuador’s Correa in Moscow amid reheated NSA debate

Published time: October 29, 2013 11:23
Edited time: October 29, 2013 20:31

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and Ecuador's President Rafael Correa attend their joint press conference in the Kremlin in Moscow, on October 29, 2013 (AFP Photo)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and Ecuador's President Rafael Correa attend their joint press conference in the Kremlin in Moscow, on October 29, 2013 (AFP Photo)
After the Tuesday meeting, Rafael Correa – supporter of former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden – said that his country follows the principles of international law and “does not trade in human rights.”
Correa reiterated that Ecuador will consider granting political asylum to whistleblower Snowden should he make such a request.

If Snowden comes to the territory of Ecuador, for example, and goes to the diplomatic mission, we will accept his request and consider all the legal aspects to make a decision,” Correa said.

"We act primarily in compliance with our principle, not in compliance with conveniences," he added.

Though Ecuador’s economy largely depends on exports to the US, Rafael Correa has not shied away from being openly critical of Washington’s tactics. His leftist government declared it would not change its mind about offering Snowden asylum, even if it was threatened with sanctions.

 “At first they said it was necessary for fighting against terrorism. I don’t know if Angela Merkel is a terrorist. I think it is clear they used surveillance programs for economic reasons, for helping their transnational companies,” he told RT Spanish. He was referring to the latest leaks - according to which the NSA had an ear to the phones of 35 world leaders, including the German chancellor. 

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow on October 29, 2013 (AFP Photo / Alexander Nemenov)
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow on October 29, 2013 (AFP Photo / Alexander Nemenov)
Ecuador’s president also said the NSA scandal revealed double standards in global politics, as Correa believes that any other country would have been put on international trial for such large-scale spying.  

But in this case nothing is going to happen, because international justice, as in the Chevron case, still does not work. And until now, justice works only for the convenience of the stronger. In this case, the stronger is the USA,” Correa said.

In June 2012, Ecuador granted asylum to Julian Assange - yet another whistleblower wanted in the US. Correa believes European countries could actually help end his confinement at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“It’s now totally up to Britain, Sweden and Europe to resolve the situation. Britain is quite capable of granting a safe passage from the country to Assange, just the way it should do,” he said.

Latin American leaders have from the very start refrained from concealing their irritation over US surveillance practices and were much more vocal in their condemnation than their European counterparts.

The July visit of Bolivian President Evo Morales to Russia resulted in a major international scandal when his plane was denied airspace and forced to stay for 12 hours in Vienna. Correa then reacted by urging other South American leaders to “take action.” Through his Twitter account, the president said the situation was a test for all Latin American states to see if they had “graduated from the colonies.”  

Ecuador, Russia discuss future plans

Correa and Russia’s President Putin have discussed a range of issues including mutual trade, which reached a record-breaking $1.3 billion in 2012.

The two countries have several ongoing energy sector projects, including Ecuador’s proposal to Russian energy giant Gazprom to create an alliance with Ecuador’s Petroamazonas. The Latin American country wants to develop its own natural gas reserves instead of buying liquid gas from abroad, as it is doing now.

“Of course we are interested in the participation of Gazprom, as it is the largest gas company in the world,” said Correa on Tuesday.

Currently, Russian companies are already taking part in another energy project - the construction of the Toachi-Pilaton hydroelectric plant, at a cost of over $1 billion.

Correa has also stated that Ecuador is interested in buying Russian military transport in the form of Mil Mi helicopters and trucks.

He also expressed hope that Ecuador’s parliament will ratify the agreement with Russia in the nuclear sphere.

In Ecuador this document has caused a lot of noise, but it still has not been ratified. This agreement is primarily aimed at the exchange of knowledge and technology. This does not mean that it is aimed at the construction of nuclear power plants," Correa said.

Correa, who on Monday visited St. Petersburg, called on the city’s scientists to visit Ecuador and participate in the creation of a science city, specializing in bio- and nanotechnologies, information systems, and the textile industry. The Ecuadorian President is also expected to visit Russia’s IT hub in Skolkovo.

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 Ecuador property transaction records: Cuenca, Vilcabamba, Loja, Quito and more.....

The responses are in...

We asked how much you actually paid for property in the highlands area of Ecuador.

And you answered.

These aren't asking prices, but actual recent values people opened their wallet and spent.

In a country like Ecuador with no MLS standardized system, nor publicly recorded comps (or comparable sales records) and with historically low and unrealistic municipal appraisals knowing how much people are actually paying can be very useful.

And thanks to all those who responded to this inquiry... below are the responses!

Loja area

1. 24 hectares (60 acres mas o menos) en La Paz, a small rural town about half way between Cuenca & Loja. We were able to get it for 60k. It has a pristine biew of the valley, two narrow waterways that supply the water for the towns in the valley, Wild Blueberry treeas all over it & maybe 350ft of roadfront property on the main highway.

Vilcabamba area

1.  Malacatos, near Vilcabamba that I bought in May,2011 for $6.83 m2 that is 11,000m2.

2. bought a house in Vilcabamba for 165K in March 2013, land 3,500 sq m. construction 140 sq m, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms , 2 years old, American standards. Sloping land, landscaped, excellent view.

Cuenca area

1. Cuenca, South side on Rio Tomebamba. 2 floor penthouse condo with 2000 sf. Bought in Jan 2010 for $70K. Found it in the local paper. Condo is 7 yrs old.
2. Cuenca, 10 min (by taxi) from Plaza de Armas.  $67,000.  apartment, 2 bed/2 bath with (solar) heated water, washer/dryer hookups. one of the bedrooms is en-suite. apartment complex was built in 2011.  apt. is 80 square meters, on the 2nd floor of a 4 story apt. complex.

3. on the Tomebamba River in Cuenca El Centro. $175000.  Penthouse condo - brand new.  150 sq meters - includes 30 meters sq of terrace.  October 1 2013
4. Lot 45 minutes from Cuenca, near Paute $40K gental hill side over looking Paute river.  4295 sq mtr, about 1 acre,  January of this year.  has power and water to it
5. 7 hectare (about 17 acres) finca near Guachapala (it's halfway between Paute and Guachapala) earlier this spring (2013). It has a 3BR/1bath house (in pretty good shape), lovely rock outcroppings, small pine forest, 800 producing fruit trees of several varieties, large spring-fed pond stocked with tilapia, and the access is excellent. The asking price was $165k and they got it for $150k.

6. Cuenca - edificio fronting Rio Yanuncay $89,500.  Apartment, built in 2010 , 116m2 + parking space & small storage area Bought Jan, 2011.  3 br, 2.5 ba.
7. Chordeleg - rural  $160,000.  Orchard, garden, House, empleada      Constructed 20 years +/-  Land = 5945m2 Main house = 180m2 2nd "house" 65m2 Bought May  2009

8. Cuenca.  first floor three bedroom two and a half bath condo for 100,000.00 USD at the corner of Premier de Mayo and Avineda des Americas in Cuenca. The purchase was made last October and the unit is rented out at $875.00 per month
9. Cuenca. 3 blocks from Tomebamba river away from El Centro at Solano and Crespo $174000.  115 sq meter condo built in 2009 Bought October 2013.

Quito area and valleys

1. Centro area, one of the few condos facing Calle La Ronda near the Sur Arco.The purchase price was $38,000. The age of the complex is about 42 years old. The 3 bdrm unit itself is approximately 90sq. metros. The purchase date was in July of 2012.
.2 La Carolina/Quicentro area, across from the Mega Maxi on 6 de Decembre. This 12 floor penthouse suite (1 bdrm) is in a brand new complex. The purchase price was $85,000 and is about 50 sq. metros. The purchase date was May, 2013.

3. Quito, La Carolina $104 000 dollar US condominium under construction, delivery on April 2014.  flat of 60 square meter + parking Bought April 2013
4. Checa: For $ 180.000, in Nov. 2011, I bought a 2 bedrm house, in a triplex, with a third of a wall attached. Gardens to be enamorred by, but at that stage, no Internet nor the promised swimming pool etc... Today, with some of the amenities better established, the same house sells for $230.000. The development will soon include a medical center, the covered and the open swimming pool, a mini-market, and high speed Internet,  well as several other conveniences. By then, it will probably be worth closer to $250.000.

5. Cumbayá in Urbanización Meneses-Pallares near Colegio Menor. The property has 1,360 mts2 of land and the house has 760 mts2 of construction. It has some 17 years of being built. I sold it for $500K. 

Ambato, Banos areas

-the actual purchase price – 125,000
-the type of property and age – RESIDENTIAL HOME /1994
-meters squared of land and construction – 300 / 344
-approx date of transaction 2006

2. BANOS   three bedroom house in  Banos ( near ambato) for $42,000.  it sits on a large lot but had no wall around it.  the house is brandnew but was not well made. white washed walls,no kitchen cupboards

Otavalo, Ibarra, Cotacachi, Atuntaqui areas (north of Quito)

1. Atuntaqui $31,000 . lot.  5,000m2.  6/2013 with irrigation water [4 blocks closer,  property starts at 25 per meter to 50]

2. North and west of Cotacachi.  $18,000.  Raw land some primary forest 1 hectarias flat, 9 hectarias steep from river to Peaks of mountain, accross river from dirt, drivable road. No buildings, electric, or phone.  We do have our own springs and reliable good quality water.  slightly less than 10 hectarias.  march of 2011

Amazon region
1. Between Tena and Archidona, Napo Province. $17,000 for 2.3 hectares of rural land, adjacent to a river (fertile). Cafe and cacao trees on 1 hectare, no construction.  Bought February 2013.

Hasta pronto,

Dom Buonamici
Quito Airport Suites: A comfortable lodging option minutes from the internaitonal airport in Quito.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Default Already!

We should have defaulted.

Regardless of the short-term pain – regardless of the financial destruction on Wall Street, the loss of faith in the dollar, the loss of face for America – a default would have served us well in the long run.

I don’t say that to be contrary or combative. I say it because it would have been the best outcome for our country. We are treading the wrong path financially. I know that. You know that. Every American who pays taxes and is continually disappointed by the spending priorities in Congress and the White House knows that. And, yet, the people who hold political power in Washington, D.C., don’t even attempt to rearrange the deck chairs while the Titanic sinks. All they can think to do is fight over which piece of the boat they want – as though there’s going to be any boat left to fight over.

Simply put: America is not the country we think she is, not anymore. She is a sinking ship … an empire in its death throes … a former supermodel wasted by too many cocaine-and-vodka benders who refuses to acknowledge that she’s no longer super – nor a model. To some, such criticism of America will seem impolitic; some might call me unpatriotic. But facts are facts, and the fact is that America is sick, and the sooner we default, the sooner the healing can begin.

If there’s a theme song to modern America, I’m convinced it’s Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” a melancholy recognition that time passes you by, and that some of the choices you make in life lead you to the destination you find yourself at unexpectedly.
I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast.

Never meant to last. Never meant to last.

Sad to think that for half a century we owned the world, but lost it all. We stopped fascism. We stopped communism. We gave the world a global currency. We built up the world’s largest currency reserves, and accumulated the world’s largest gold reserves.

And then, like that down-and-out, middle-aged pirate, we pissed it all away.

Now, we find ourselves one of history’s saddest tragedies, a fallen giant felled by his own recklessness and arrogance. We slough through life, burdened by more than $125 trillion in debt, the largest debtor the world has ever known. Our tax system is broken. Our education system is broken. Our welfare system is broken, and will drag us further into desperate straits in coming years. Our political system is broken. Our monetary system is broken.

We are broken.

We are a cancer patient, our collective corpus shot through with destructive cells. But aside from the occasional dustup in D.C. to remind us that we’re terminal, our politicians just pump more and more morphine into the system to keep the body happy for a while longer, never willing to accept the fact that the cancer is consuming us and that it will kill our country at some point. They haven’t the willpower necessary to confront the pain. Maybe they’re naïve enough to believe that the snake oil they peddle to us is real, that they really can reduce the debt over time, cut back wasteful and efficient spending, and return America to a path of fiscal prudence.

We know in our core that the politicians and presidents who tell us that are lying.

And, yet, we blithely pretend the lie is a truth. We have to believe it. We can’t construct the reality that we want to believe any other way. We can’t accept that the status quo we think we know – that America is the richest country on Earth and the greatest political system ever – might actually be a grand illusion.

It was true at one point. We were the richest country. And we did have the greatest political economy man has ever devised. And we can have it again. But the cancerous cocktail of debt and the politics of self-interest destroyed those strengths long ago. Now we survive, from one fiscal crisis to another, on borrowed money and borrowed time, like a terminally ill patient forever strapped to life support.

Like watching that terminal loved one suffer through the final stages of death, you reach a point where you just pray the oxygen runs out. It’s not for lack of love. It’s not a sense of heartlessness. You just know everyone is better off.

We’ve reached that point.

We Can be Better …

As it stands now, we sidestepped default – again. But, again, it’s only temporary. The Reid-McConnell compromise simply raises the debt ceiling for a few months and pushes the fight into 2014, when, once again, we will stand on the precipice of an abyss as Republicans and Democrats spar over extremist views of how to run and fund a country.

And the cycle will repeat, over and over again, until a financial crisis or, more likely, a currency crisis imperils our country, our dollar and our already-declining standard of living.

So why continue to delay the inevitable?

We should attack the cancer.

We should default already.

That would begin to clear the system. Like a company or a family emerging from bankruptcy, we would have a clean slate again. We could arrange our financial affairs more realistically. We could stop worrying about our role as a global currency and begin to focus on building a better America.

Certainly, that prescription is painful. Some – maybe all – politicians would lose their jobs to a population enraged by such a course of action. Stock and bond markets would heave and convulse, temporarily. Our cost of living would rise, in the short run. And America’s standing in the world would decline, for a while and for the better. But someone has to be an adult. Someone has to tell America that the pixie dust Congress continues to sprinkle on the nation is a placebo. We will never heal as an economy until we take the real and necessary medicine.

The people who honestly appraise our situation know in their guts that a default is the likeliest outcome for America, at some point. We’ve already crossed that Rubicon, though we like to pretend we’re still masters of our destiny. We’re not. We are, instead, slaves to our debt-addled balance sheet and the obligations we’ve piled onto our own backs. Through no action other than default can we begin to manage the financial strain we are under.

The sooner we purposefully choose to default, the sooner we can begin to rebuild what we’ve torn asunder over all these years and decades. We can be a better America. We can return to a position of power and strength. We can regain the respect we’ve lost and the financial security we destroyed with debt. We have the economy, the knowledge base and the entrepreneurial spirit to reclaim what we pissed away.

Yet, without a default to cleanse our fiscal sins, we are but a melancholy pirate, wistfully hoping for better days, but in moments of lucidity painfully aware of the sad truth:
I have been drunk now for over two weeks.

I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks.

But I've got to stop wishin', got to go fishin'.

I'm down to rock bottom again.

Just a few friends. Just a few friends …

Until next time, stay Sovereign …

Jeff D. Opdyke
Editor, Profit Seeker

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Obamus Caesar: “No Limits On the Power of the President if He Calls for a National Catastrophe”

Note from Blog: Unlike the distinguished Roman Ruluer Cincinatus who declared that a Roman Ruler could only declare himself Dictator for 6 months in a time of Crisis.......Obama could follow in the footsteps of old line South American dictators and declare his rule for life. But much like his predecesors from Latin America......we will not last long before an old fashioned COUP DE TAT arises.

“President Obama is prepared to take power and begin to rule from day one.”
-Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States
Should Congress and the President fail to come to an agreement on America’s debt ceiling we could well be facing a situation that leads Barack Obama to implement a last ditch strategy that would be nothing short of a complete takeover of the United States.
So says former US Treasury Undersecretary Paul Craig Roberts, who knows a thing or two about finance, debt and the inner workings of our government :
If the United States were to default, it would be the end of the US as a superpower.  No one in Washington wants to lose that kind of power, so I fully expect that at the last minute a deal will be reached.  Now, in the event that both sides play a game of ‘chicken’ to the very end, and we are down to the last hours, and fears of a default escalate dramatically, I think one of two things will happen….

The first would be the Federal Reserve, on its own initiative, would simply lend the US Treasury whatever money it would need.  You have to remember that the Federal Reserve lent to US and European banks more than $16 trillion in order to enable them to avoid default, or outright failure.

The second possibility would be that President Obama, because of laws that are already on the books, would have the power to declare a ‘national catastrophe’ and simply assume the leadership of the government.  This gets Congress and the courts out of the picture.  At that point there are no limits on the power of the President if he calls for a ‘national catastrophe.’
This would mean that the President, on his own authority, could raise the debt ceiling.  So, either of those two events would happen if it looked like no deal was forthcoming from the Congress.  It could be that President Obama, or others in the Executive Branch, are planning to use this crisis to invoke that Executive Order.

Of course.  It means that essentially the President would become a ‘Caesar.’  That would also mean that the Congress had become like the Roman Senate, which lost its power and simply became a collection of notable figureheads.  Generally when democratically regimes fail you end up with a Caesar, and a shutdown is of course the epitome of a democratic failure.
So this would give President Obama all of the justification for exercising the Executive Order so that the President can rule independently of Congress and the courts.
Listen to the Full Interview at King World News (via Steve Quayle)
The important thing to understand is that President Barack Obama relishes the power. This is evidenced by his desperate need to monitor and command drone strikes from the White House himself. He likes the thrill of being the decision maker and holding the lives of others in his hands.
He has already passed scores of executive orders, including restrictions on firearms accessories and ammunition, as well as provisions that would allow the U.S. government to take over all domestic resources, including the labor force, should a national catastrophe be declared.
Make no mistake. They want total control.

And they will let no crisis go to waste. For them, the debt ceiling negotiations reaching  a stalemate may well be the outcome they are looking for, because it will justify the administration’s invocation of Executive Order and rule by decree.
The debt ceiling debate will likely have a resolution, just as it has twice in as many years under the Obama administration, but if it doesn’t you can fully expect the Executive Branch to take whatever action they deem necessary to “protect” the American people.
If that means declaring a “national catastrophe” then that’s what they will do.

 Mac Slavo
October 9th, 2013

An Insider’s Guide to Buying Property in Ecuador

By Edd Staton
Real estate prices in Ecuador are low—among the lowest anywhere. That means you can find some of the best bargains in the world. So if you choose this country, you may decide it makes sense to buy a residence.
You are spoiled for choice. Ecuador offers plenty of places where the weather is good—cool year-round in the mountains or warm down on the coast. If you’re after jungle-tropical, you can find that as well.
You’ve got the options of a cosmopolitan lifestyle in cities like Quito, Cuenca, and Salinas... or a more quiet existence in any number of smaller enclaves where you can garden with a view.
And your choices extend to the kind of home you’d like as well—from the convenience of a modern high-rise condo...to the space afforded by a single-family home with a yard...to raw land on which you can build your dream escape.
You can pay as little as $89,000 for a two-bedroom property in the country’s colonial capital, Quito, or $79,000 for a 2,100-square–foot, single-family home a short walk from the beach on the Pacific Coast, or find a jungle home for less than $100,000.
The good news is foreigners have the same rights as Ecuadorian citizens to own property.
You don’t even have to be a legal resident of the country to purchase real estate. The not-so-good news is that the real estate business in Ecuador bears little resemblance to what you are accustomed to in North America or Europe.
There is no such thing as a multiple listing service, for example. Real estate agents generally do not cooperate with each other for split commissions and will only show you properties they represent. So don’t feel awkward about speaking to as many of them as possible. Since there are relatively few exclusive listings, several real estate agents may show you the same property—and sometimes at different prices!
While a formal licensing process exists for real estate agents in Ecuador, most agents are unlicensed without legal consequences. Your taxi driver, if he learns you are interested in purchasing property, may well tell you about a house his cousin has for sale.
Such word-of-mouth information can actually be quite valuable because less than 10% of properties on the market have a "For Sale" sign in the window or front yard, and less than 20% have listing agents. Therefore, the value of networking cannot be stressed enough. You never know "who knows whom" unless you make your intentions known.
Since my wife and I made the mistake of shipping our container of furnishings without having lined up a home yet, we were highly motivated to locate a suitable apartment before the boat arrived and was ready to unload. (Don’t ask—we were excited and naïve.) Every real estate agent we knew was on the hunt. When meeting someone back then, my standard greeting was, "Hi-I’m-Edd-do-you-know-of-any-apartments-for-rent?"
Thank goodness, everything ended up working out, but we were determined to leave no stone unturned. I highly recommend you do the same.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

ECUADOR – Legalization of abortion, the President threatens to resign: the Church praises him

Why is this not getting international attention on Ecuadors "leftist" President?

ECUADOR – Legalization of abortion, the President threatens to resign: the Church praises him

Rafael Correa during his inaugural speech as p...
Rafael Correa during his inaugural speech as president of Ecuador (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guayaquil (Agenzia Fides) – His Exc. Mgr. Antonio Arregui, Archbishop of Guayaquil and President of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference (CEE), has defined the position of the country’s president, Rafael Correa, as “commendable” with regards to the issue of a possible legalization of abortion. Correa has in fact threatened to resign if his party, “Alianza País”, continues to put pressure regading the approval of a reform that would legalize abortion.

In a note sent to Fides, Mgr. Arregui said he was “impressed by the courage, the quality with which the president spoke”. Mgr. Arregui also states that the Church’s position on this issue is well known: “We believe that human life is sacred and cannot be eliminated”. As reported in the note sent to Fides, this week there will be an official statement of the Catholic Church.

Rafael Correa, speaking on TV, stigmatized in particular parliamentarians belonging to his party who support the bill for the decriminalization of abortion, a practice that currently the Criminal Code strictly prohibits. According to what the local press reports, Correa spoke of “serious betrayal and treachery”, recalling that he had always made clear his opposition to any form of legalization of abortion. Correa defines himself “leftist, humanist and Catholic”. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 14/10/2013)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How much did you pay for your Ecuador property?

In countries like the U.S. its easy to get a quick feel of property values in a given area with a quick search of the MLS and a quick review of the comps (or comparable sales records) because all sale values are recorded and made public.

In Ecuador, this is not the case.

There is no true MLS (or nationwide multiple listing service).

Nor are people required to declare and prove the actual vaue they paid for their home.  Most in fact lie to the Municipal by stating a lesser amount than they actually paid in order to pay less transfer taxes.

Municipal tax assessments rarely reflect the actual market reality.
So how can you tell how much a property should be worth?

Its pretty much a crap shoot.

Most guesstimate.

Yet its easy for a seller to leave money on the table by asking too little, or for buyers to overpay.

Simply shopping around a lot before buying or consulting an objective professional in your area is the best bet.  For instance, I now offer the service of appraisals for property located in the Quito area, Cuenca, Guayaquil or the coast of Ecuador.
But for this week I thought it would be fun for you to tell us how much you paid for your Ecuador property (if you´ve bought already)?

And the next newsletter will be full of the responses people like you send me now.

No names, ultra-specifics nor contact info will be mentioned.

The more folks who respond, the more interesting the next newsletter will be for everyone.

Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little.

Maybe you have knowledge of a purchase, and how much was paid, but you weren´t the buyer, that´s OK too if you don´t think they´d mind you sharing the info.

What we need for this to be truly valuable is...

-the approx. location
-the actual purchase price
-the type of property and age
-meters squared of land and construction
-approx date of transaction

 Hasta pronto,
Dom Buonamici
Quito Airport Suites: A comfortable lodging option minutes from the internaitonal airport in Quito.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Happened to Your Right to Privacy?

By Bob Bauman, JD
Privacy is an inherent human right.
Most of us accept the obligation to report certain designated information to the government, and we will abide by those rules in the understanding that this is essential to the orderly management of our society, and thus to our own prosperity. That concession emphatically does not mean we have surrendered our right to privacy.
For that reason, all of us should champion privacy, both personal and financial, even when we have nothing to hide. All of us should be appalled and angry at the current behavior of the U.S. government, regardless of our political leanings. Consider some of this "official" behavior:
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) routinely abuses laws designed for immigration enforcement purposes to extract private information, including passwords, from U.S. residents before they have officially crossed into U.S. soil at airports and land borders.
    Customs and Border Protection, part of the DHS, conducted electronic media searches on 4,957 people from October 1, 2012, through August 31, 2013—15 a day—close to the average for the previous two years. Ominously, U.S. lawyers, journalists and political activists who support the right to personal privacy and political dissent have been deliberately targeted for border searches and seizures of electronic information.
  • The NSA has worked for years to force purveyors of cryptographic software to build, in secret, "backdoor" keyholes that allow it to access encrypted data. Almost all of the major encryption products developed and produced in the U.S. should now be assumed unsafe.
  • According to the German daily, Der Speigel, the NSA developed a system called TRACFIN to hack into VISA’s credit-card transaction network to target customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and has also hacked into the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system, which I have exposed in the past.
    Although there are no reports—so far—that this TRACFIN system has been deployed inside the U.S., there is no reason to think it hasn’t been.
A serious commitment to liberty requires us to dispense with the notion that we have nothing to worry about if we have nothing to hide. Even if you’re personally willing to allow the government to rifle through your finances, communications and personal records, you should care that it is doing this to people who do mind and are protected by the Fourth Amendment.
But the U.S. government is completely out of control when it comes to respecting the right to individual privacy.
Both parties are guilty of supporting abominations such as the 2001 PATRIOT Act, and of neglecting Congress’ core oversight duties in respect of the NSA and other intelligence agencies. Republicans and Democrats are equally guilty in the destruction of our constitutional liberties, and have applied their energies to bait-and-switch tactics designed to get Americans to vote for party "brands," rather than for what is right.
Sadly, no matter how unhappy we may be at these violations of our constitutional liberties, there is little prospect that they will be addressed politically anytime soon.
And then there’s the horrendous Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)—a way for the government to invade U.S.-held bank accounts across the world. This attack on personal and financial privacy was, in part, a smoke screen for more state taxes.
But for these anti-freedom ideologues, abolishing privacy is only the start. They also want to end lawyer-client privilege, expose all forms of private-property ownership and they are well along in imposing a global system of automatic tax information exchange among all nations.
Under the unconstitutional PATRIOT Act, financial privacy in America is already dead. The government has the power to obtain financial information in secret about anyone and to confiscate your wealth. The real choices in this debate are personal freedom, liberty versus government control of our lives and our fortunes.
Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of terrorist attack, solutions to alleged tax evasion or under any form of unrelenting domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny.
Widespread surveillance, whether by police or bureaucrats, in whatever form it takes, is the very definition of a police state. It’s time to start protecting your privacy in the ways that are still possible.

Here’s an Escape Route from America’s Decline …

Beginning last week, 800,000 federal employees had to explain to their families that they are furloughed.

National parks are closed, passports are no longer processed and war veterans are being turned away at their memorials …

All because the charlatans in Washington D.C. can’t agree to put the interests of our country above their own.

I keep hearing one question from folks here at the Total Wealth Symposium in Las Vegas:

“How is it possible to live in a country where our voices aren’t heard and the ruling elite sacrifice OUR bottom line for their own benefit?”

Think about it:

  • Our national debt is increasing by $1,800,000,000 a day.

  • The Fed’s money-printing addiction has been diluting the dollar for years.

  • Near 0% interest rates are pummeling savers, while enriching the big banks.
That’s why it’s important to invest a portion of your wealth offshore, where the strongest growth opportunities exist in assets that help you retain (or even gain) purchasing power.

And it’s easier than you think …

 There is Hope for Americans … if You Know What You’re Doing
When Sovereign Society legal counsel and former U.S. Congressman, Bob Bauman, took the stage, you could hear a pin drop as the audience sat quiet in rapt attention.

Attendees, like most of us, are worried that the U.S. has crossed a point of no return.

That’s why learning about Bob’s Five Flags of Freedom is more important than ever:

Flag #1 – Get Residency or a Second Passport

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that U.S. citizens have the right to multiple citizenships.

The first step in obtaining dual citizenship is to check your family tree. Several nations offer bloodline-based citizenship – if you can prove one of your parents, or even grandparents was born overseas. (For the full list of participating countries – be sure to listen to Bob’s talk.)

Gaining residency is much easier than securing a second passport, and you should NEVER attempt to buy a second citizenship online.

Flag #2 – Set Up Your Offshore Business Base

One of the most important steps is to set up a foreign bank account, offshore international business corporation or offshore limited liability company. There are many benefits to doing business in overseas jurisdictions, including: affordable, abundant land; interest-free loans; tax holidays; and minimal regulation.

Flag #3 – Residence & Domicile

The next step is to find a country that does not impose taxes. Panama is a great example; it does not levy an income tax as long as your income is earned outside the republic.

Flag #4 – Asset Protection – Trusts and Foundations

There is still sufficient and much stronger bank secrecy in many countries than in the United States.

For a list of five countries that offer the greatest banking secrecy, privacy and asset management, as well as the best way to legally defer taxes offshore, be sure to download Bob’s PowerPoint presentation.

Flag #5 –Choose Your Haven Wisely

Finally, Bob recommends you get to know your haven well before making any permanent decisions. Make sure the climate, geography, culture and leisure activities excite you – and make you feel “at home.”

Everyone walked away from Bob’s speech with a Master Plan on how to get “off the grid” and protect their privacy and wealth from legal predators, identity thieves — even the U.S. government.

The Greatest Investment Trend of Our Time

As the U.S. continues its downward spiral, all the prosperity we once knew is happening overseas in developing countries.

In the next five years, almost a billion souls will emerge from poverty around the world, eager for the lifestyle and products we take for granted.

The Sovereign Individual Executive Editor, Jeff Opdyke, sees huge opportunities for investors who look beyond America’s borders.

I’m talking about getting in on the ground floor with tomorrow’s McDonald’s, WalMart and Coca-Cola.

Jeff revealed two of his favorite plays to take advantage of with the rise of prosperity around the world.

Play #1: Big Profits From an Unlikely South African Firm …

The next Kraft Foods is emerging in Africa because of rising prosperity throughout the continent. Some 300 million Africans have already risen from poverty, and another 200 million are set to enter the middle class over the next decade.

And they all want one thing – better, more easily prepared food. And this South African canned-food firm is delivering the goods to this massive pool of demanding buyers.

This company has averaged 16% annualized returns since 2004, pays a 3% yield and it’s poised for even more rapid growth as it continues to expand its sales outside of South Africa.

Jeff believes this is a stock you buy, forget about and collect profits for years to come.

Play #2: South America’s Next Success Story …

It’s not Brazil, Argentina or Ecuador …

It’s Colombia, of all places. With the worst of the drug wars over and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) pleading for a truce, Columbia is rich with investment opportunities.

Jeff recommends one bank that pays a steady 3% yield and has significant growth potential as more prosperous Colombians open bank accounts and obtain more car and home loans.

This emerging bank is a play you don’t want to miss if you’re serious about growing your wealth in the coming years.

To get the ticker symbols that Jeff revealed to the attendees, click here.

Then, to top off the session, Knut Anderson of Swissmetal Inc. showed us the easiest and fastest way to potentially double your money with strategic metals like tungsten and tantalum.

These metals are crucial, basic necessities for most of today’s booming industries and emerging technologies such as smartphones, LCD monitors and computers.

Tell You What …

The buzz here in Las Vegas is contagious. There is a feeling of energy and purpose in the air. Everyone seems to be excited and focused.

And we’re just getting started!

This afternoon, I’ll fill you in on our next pair of popular speakers: Harry Dent and Eric Roseman.

Until then …

Your Conference Insider,

Mike Crespo

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Handeling employess in Ecuador....it´s not as it used to be......

"Hey, step into my office for a minute."

"Don't sit down, this will only take a second." I continued.

"You're fired, get the f**k out."

OK, so this wasn't exactly how it went down eariler this week.

But can't blame a guy for dramatizing once in a while.

If you've met me, you know Im a soft-spoken guy, don't think I could  do it like that.

But due to a change in business circumstances, I unfortunately had to let someone go.

In Spanish, as in Ecuador, its very clear cut.  Someone either quits (renunciar) or you fire them (despedir).

Theres no wishy washy middle ground like "laid off" or "let go".

And when you have to let someone go, as I did this week, its a little different down here.

You have to "liquidate" them meaning pay them a final one-time "severance" payment equal to 25% of all the salary you've ever paid them plus any unpaid bonuses due to them.

But first, when you fire someone in Ecuador, or if someone leaves your business voluntarily, you have to go see an accountant who makes the official document (Acta de Finiquito) that needs to be filed with the Social Security Department (IESS) and Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo).

Then, a date is scheduled when both you and your employee will have to go in front of an inspector where you will have to pay your employee their liquidation (severance) settlement and both sign off.

Theres really no way to get around this legal process nowadays in Ecuador or your employee can sue you.

Except if you hire the right way.

Which I didn't this time around.  In my case, for an employee I hired making a bit more than the minimum wage who worked for me for 3 months, Im going to have to pay her around $450 for her liquidation.

For instance, one loophole i recently discovered that will allow you to legally not pay the extremely costly 25% lump sum severance payment to your employees in Ecuador when you let them go is to hire your employees on a temporary limited time contract... say for one year.  At the end of the year you let them go for reasons of "contract ending" and then you don't have to pay them the 25% lump sum liquidation of all the salary they've earned while under you.  You will only have to pay a much smaller amount equal to any unpaid bonuses due to the employee for that year.

You can then do like most and maybe give them a few weeks off and then hire them back.

Til next time,
Dom Buonamici
Quito Airport Suites

Dom´s best hotels deals in Ecuador.

Come on.

Just admit it.

One of the main reasons you are even interested in Ecuador is because you want to improve your lifestyle while at the same time lower your cost of living.

At least the possibility of such intrigues you.

Well, here are my hand-picked top 7 best-value hotels in Ecuador.  Bargain, nice places that should charge a lot more than they are.

Places where you can feel pampered and pay a small fraction of the cost you would back home.  
But most of these aren´t easy to find nor easy to book beforehand (many of them don´t even have websites!)

Maybe these aren´t the cheapest choices out there, but they are the best bang for your buck in their given area.  Here goes...

7. Hotel Prado Internacional (Loja, Ecuador).  This hotel conveniently located right on the other side of the river from the old town in Loja is a four star quality hotel at two star prices.  There is an elevator, an elegant, open full time yet often empty rooftop restaurant with amazing food (try the bacon-rapped Filet Mignon in mushroom sauce for $6), a very friendly staff headed by the owner, Lucia, who speaks English.  The hot water is good, WIFI in room and the rooms are elaborately decorated.  Can´t beat the value for price, singles start for $26/night and doubles start around $39/night.

6.  Hotel Canoa Mar (Canoa, Ecuador).  This hotel is right on the beach in Canoa within walking distance of the town center yet just far enough away not to hear the discos blaring music.  The style of the hotel (laced with bamboo) is just what you´d expect from a hotel in the area.  There is hot water, WIFI in room and each room has its own carefully thought-out design... all for $10 per person.  I stay here when I´m in town.

5. Hotel Hugo´s Place (Montanita, Ecuador).  One block from the beach and a girl´s throw from the center of town, this 2013 newly inaugurated hotel in the center of Montanita is hard to beat for the price.  The rooms have a beautiful oceanview and are nicely finished with cement (to prevent noise and critters from entering), WIFI and hot water are available and rooms start at $10 per person ($12-15 on weekends).

4. Copalinga Nature Lodge (Zamora, Ecuador).  No trip is complete to Ecuador without venturing into the Amazon, yet most eco-lodges (like Kapawi) charge upwards of a hundred dollars a night.  Copalinga has beautiful cabins available right in the thick of the rainforest and within a short walk from the National Park Podocarpus.  Amazing for bird watchers, as dozens of Hummigbirds often buzz around you as you dine for breakfast in the morning.  Prices start around $23.50 per person for one of the older cabins available, newer more luxury ones are also available for about double the price.  Worth every penny.

3. Posada del Rio (Cuenca, Ecuador).  For me, the most stunning area of Cuenca is where the old town meets the Tomebamba river.  Thats where I want to be whenever I go to Cuenca, plus you are right in the middle of everywhere you want to go.  Built into a refurbished old colonial, just as you´d expect from Cuenca, the Posada del Rio is right along the river and several rooms have stunning views of the trickling brook.  This is another lodging option with rooms much nicer than what you would expect they rent for, hot water, WIFI and room service is available.  Rooms start around $15 per person.

2. Izhcayluma (Vilcabamba, Ecuador).  As a hotel owner myself in Quito I have the chance to chat with travelers almost everyday, and almost everyone I talk to who has stayed in Izhcayluma has nothing but great things to say about it.  Pamper yourself getting a treatment in the Spa, soak in the pool, horseback ride, bird watch, hike the trails through the green hills or even visit a sugar farm and watch the process of sugar making.  The service is top notch, the grounds well maintained... single rooms with private bath start around $28, doubles $38, shared dorm beds are also available for $12 each.  Hard to beat the value for your buck in Vilcabamba.

1. Hotel Gala (Baños, Ecuador).  This hotel, mainly frequented by local Ecuadorian tourists, has gorgeous mountain views and is right on the edge of the quiant town of Baños.  Its my pick whenever I´m in the area.  The rooms are borderline luxury, some may even hint at four star quality, and are very spacious.  The hot water is good and plentiful and the decoration is elaborate.  You are also within walking distance of the town center and the spas in Baños.  The only drawback is as of writing there is no WIFI, but sometimes its good to disconnect.  All for bargain prices starting around $12 per person.