Ecuador 16/01/2012

Mahmoud Ahmedinejab is received by cheerful crowds in Quito,  Colombia tightens ties with Ecuador and Rafael Correa celebrates five years in power.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was cheered by crowds in Quito along with President Rafael Correa on 12 January, captivating the attention of international media.

Mr Ahmadinejab, who arrived in Ecuador on the last leg of his four-nation tour that included Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, stated that the purpose of his visit was to strengthen bilateral cooperation on trade, economic and social issues.

“There are many projects for mutual benefit. […] We have to accelerate and deepen our financial and commercial relations for mutual benefit.” Correa said at a press conference after both presidents greeted the crowds from Carondelet Palace.

Ecuador and Iran have boosted ties since President Correa took office early in 2007. According to the Correa administration, Ecuador and Iran have signed 32 agreements in recent years to strengthen cooperation, especially in areas such as renewable resources, technology, farming, and health.

The visit of the Iranian president in Ecuador also sparked voices of disagreement. The political group Concertación, represented by Juan Carlos Solines, stated that Mr. Ahmadinejab’s visit was seen as an affront against freedom of expression in Ecuador, as more than 100 Iranian media organisations have been closured during recent years.

In other news, on 12 January the ministers of defence of Colombia and Ecuador, Juan Carlos Pinzón and Javier Ponce respectively, began a two-day meeting in Boyacá, Colombia, to discuss bilateral cooperation relating to arms, people and drugs trafficking and illegal mining.

Among other topics, Ecuador and Colombia agreed to share the control of nearly 20 known illegal routes on the borderline area. Despite the high movement of people and goods between the two countries, only two border checking points are currently operating: Rumichaca and San Miguel.

Finally, Correa celebrates five years in power on 15 January. Around 40,000 supporters cheered the president during celebrations in the provincial city of Cuenca on 14 January.

During his speech, Correa described “citizen’s revolution’s achievements” in health, education and transport as ‘undeniable.’ The celebration was also attended by Cuban songwriter Pablo Milanés and Peace Nobel Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchú .

A new survey by the local CEDATOS firm gave him an impressive 55 percent approval. The next presidential vote is expected in January 2013 but Correa has not confirmed if he will run.