Saturday, April 30, 2005

Greg Palast on "Dollarized" Ecuador

New from Greg Palast:

Friday Apr 29, 2005

The equator is far more tacky than I imagined.

I'd taken time out from the state of siege in the capitol to take the twins on a quick holiday further up the Andes (or down, I don't know which).

Anyway, the Ciudad Centro del Mundo -- City at the Center of the World -- had loudspeakers on poles scratching out some Inca-cum-New Age Muzak.

It cost a dollar and a half US to stand on the planet's belly button -- that's a buck fifty in the local currency, too -- Ecuador's been "dollarized," which is why everyone is flat broke and in a bad mood and why Quechua women in bowler hats were screaming into the cameras, "TODO FUERA! TODO FUERA !" -- Everybody out! -- in front of the Presidential Palace. They didn't like their president last week -- the ladies in the bowler hats (about a hundred thousand of them) chased him to Brazil -- and they don't like the new one either. Or ANYONE. They want EVERYONE out. No more US dollarized governments that promise them water pipes and electricity and vaccinations for the kids.

They had no water, except what they could carry in jugs up the hill, and thirty dollar electric bills, when the few with jobs make a hundred a month, and no shots for the kids -- and they were all in a bad mood about it.

I wanted to tell them they are rich -- this nation, once a member of OPEC -- sits on 2 billion barrels of oil and probably a lot more according to the World Bank documents in my briefcase marked FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY, Ecuador is required to pay 70% of its new oil money to foreign bondholders.
Man, he's good! No comment required. Click here to read the whole thing.