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Monday, March 23, 2015

(Publicly-Owned Media, Amending the Constitution, David vs.Goliath, and The Struggle For Social And Economic Justice in Ecuador)

(Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño on Press Freedom, Anti-Correa Protests & Chevron Case)

I can really appreciate the idea of having the media become publicly-owned, as opposed to private ownership which seems to be the model that's entrenched around the world today. 
A revolution in the way we use media might be key to many of our potential successes as a species in the future.

Knowledgeable people can't help but look around them and see the high levels of misinformation and disinformation that privately-run media are disseminating in the name of economic profiteering with what are likely to be devastating consequences for the future of the human race.

We’re on the verge of extinction as a species, and the worldwide media's role in this have been profound. Of course, whenever a nation's government is undermined and comes under the control of moneyed interests, even publicly-operated media can become compromised, but having media public-owned and operated provides the public with additional safeguards against the modern trend of sacrificing human needs for the sake of profits.

One of the advantages of publicly-owned media is the addition of a figurative firewall between moneyed interests and the public's right to know the truth. In effect, it provides an added layer of security for the people of any nation.

With corporate-run media, we know they are run on the profit model from the get-go and, therefore, susceptible to the pressures of a powerful conflict of interest which provides them every incentive to satisfy their shareholder's bank accounts, not the general public's need to know the truth.

In the case of Ecuador, the president has been bombarded during his first three terms in office by a media campaign blitz that hasn't let him rest for a moment. I’ve uploaded some of his interviews with various members of their media and around the world as well.

The inherent problems with corporately-owned mass media are global in scale and, finally, we have a world leader who is willing to do something about it. The ramifications of what's taking place in Ecuador could have worldwide consequences if he is successful. 

The attacks on President Correa don’t slow down even though he virtually destroys his detractors every time, those who make the mistake of taking him to task on issues that they are ill prepared to debate with someone who is armed to the teeth with truth.

They almost invariably take on the perspective of the wealthy at the expense of the huddled masses who Correa's mission has been to lend a voice to. Being armed with the truth as a shield and primary weapon is a combination one-two punch that is pretty hard to beat.

"There is no god higher than truth."

--Mohandas K. Gandhi

It’s almost comical to watch the way Correa dispatches his opponents in the media with such great skill on practically every occasion. For one, he knows the real history of his country and, thus, can’t be duped by the blind, the brainwashed, or the indoctrinated.

I can see why this is getting to be a bit old for him, and the idea of publicly-owned media is a revolutionary idea whose time has come. I’m looking forward to seeing it implemented throughout Latin America and the world. As far as I can tell, it's a novel approach for nations where free speech is as highly regarded as it is in Ecuador.

In regard to President Correa’s detractors in his own country, this is all just sour grapes, and those responsible for promoting the efforts against him are, of course, the moneyed interests who don’t want to see the people come out on top in this country of 15 million. Ironically, Rafael Correa finds himself in the enviable position of being so successful that he’s brought the country’s elites down on him.

Correa has got to be one of the greatest leader in that country’s history. I say that without being well-versed in the details of Ecuador's past but feel I know enough about their history of domination and control by foreign powers to say that, at the very least, he’s got to be right up there with the finest leaders the country has ever produced.

I’m reminded of a particular situation here in the U.S., and although most Americans may not know it, our own constitution was originally set up so that a sitting president could be re-elected to as many terms as the people saw fit to re-elect him. I say "him" because I don't believe the laws were originally established so that a woman could serve as president, seeing as it wasn't until just a handful of generations ago that women were able to secure the right to vote (with the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920).

This was the case when Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our most popular president ever, was elected to serve a total of four terms in office. The only thing preventing him from possibly going further was his untimely death months before the end of World War II and just four months into his fourth term as president.

(Franklin D. Roosevelt Elected to Fourth Term Returns to Washington Newsreel Stock Footage)

It was Roosevelt’s immense popularity, much like what Rafael Correa and his Citizen’s Revolution are going through today in Ecuador, that brought our ruling class down on the progress he had made, progress that included the flourishing of strong mass movements, workers' unions, a plenitude of strong labor leaders, and the New Deal, among other things.

Astounding progress in the 40s was made when our country made a dramatic recovery from the worst economic crisis in its history which, unfortunately for all of us in the present, didn’t go unnoticed by the country’s elites at the time. In fact, they were so angry—and frightened—by what Roosevelt had accomplished they decided it could never be allowed to happen again.

So they changed the laws and had term limits restricted to two terms in office which is where we stand today. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t about a bad guy seizing power and abusing the Constitution but how one of our best presidents successfully defended his people and, in so doing, created a deep desire among many of our elites at the time to chart a course that could only end in the complete dismantling of everything the 32nd president had accomplished.

Today, we are seeing the last vestiges of Roosevelt's New Deal coming under attack as the two most important programs of that historic legislation have been targeted by Republicans, that is, the Social Security Program and the Unemployment Program.

I'm sure this is what Rafael Correa is experiencing in Ecuador today. It seems ironic and, perhaps, a little hard to believe that a leader’s success could actually work against him, but this is likely the case with the current protests going on at present. Experience tells me the protests are being funded covertly by what amounts to their version of Roosevelt’s detractors in his day, probably with U.S. backing.

All of this reminds me of what happened in Venezuela last year, when 43 people were killed on both sides of disputes that came about as a result of protests inspired by the country’s old ruling elites and the U.S government who seek to regain control of the country and divert the funds from the sale of the country's natural resources away from the poor, back into the hands of the rich. This would amount to the opposite of the Robin Hood effect and would, amazingly, be taking from the poor to give to the rich. 

Rafael Correa has pissed off all the wrong people, or all the right people—depending on how you look at it—and we'll see just how popular he actually is come election time despite their elites' attempts to stir up the pot of public discontent against him.

In the case of Venezuela, closer scrutiny of what took place there showed that the protests were isolated pockets of resistance, not widespread opposition to the government as most people there recognize that government’s honest efforts to serve them. The same is most likely true in the case of Ecuador at the moment.

In America, we saw what Franklin Delano Roosevelt could do in the 30s and 40s when he was elected to serve four terms in office, and the current Ecuadorian president has every right to seek as many re-elections as the people of Ecuador see fit to elect him as their leader.

By all means, the Ecuadorian Constitution could, and should, be amended to allow the best leader they've had in generations to work his magic on the country and continue the amazing turnaround that is now under way. A nation's constitution can, and should be, amended from time to time when the situation calls for it as our first president so clearly pointed out to us. 

(Article V – US Constitution - George Washington)

In his ten-year stint as president, thus far, Correa has reduced poverty and unemployment significantly, reined in the country's financial system and has moved the financial sector towards serving the public, not the other way around (as is the case here in the U.S.), provided a large fiscal stimulus to weather the the latest recession, increased taxes on banks, renegotiated oil prices with foreign oil companies, and expanded access to health care, among other things.

(Why Ecuador Loves Rafael Correa - Mark Weisbrot)

You can see the difference in the people's faces as Correa has given his people something to get excited about. This all serves as a stark reminder of what one courageous, highly intelligent, and noble-minded person can do for a nation when given half a chance to succeed.

Although there are other excellent leaders in Ecuador, like Ricardo Patino, waiting in the wings, it would be a mistake to hand the reins over to anyone other than Correa at this critical stage in that country's history. Correa is making dreams come true and, so, this has become a defining moment in the long history of a nation that's been plagued by outside interference for centuries. 

If something works, you go with it, and Correa is a world class leader. When you consider the fact that Ecuador went through seven heads of state in the ten-year period prior to his taking office, you'll come to realize just how important it is to have someone in office who can deliver the goodies, and Correa is that man.

And let no one mistake the fact that Correa and his administration, have been under heavy fire from the media and the ruling class the entire way. There was even a day in September of 2010 (September 30th) when he almost surrendered his life in the service of his country.

(30S El Día que Triunfó la Democracia)

So, yes, the Constitution of Ecuador should be amended to make way for the most effective leader that country has known and, should the new law be abused at some point in the future, then, it will fall upon the citizenry to make corrections to the Constitution as needed to shore up any weaknesses. 
As our own George Washington pointed out, a nation’s constitution is not carved in stone and should be amended from time to time to fit the needs of a particular generation(s).

As for what Texaco did to Ecuador and the financial responsibility they must be made to assume for it, what a no-brainer. I’ve seen the videos of Rafael Correa placing his hand in what were once pristine Amazon waters and coming out with globs of oil all over it. For those who want proof, just visit Ecuador. I’m sure there are people there who will take the time to show you the damage done to their homeland by the monster derelict.

The destruction to the habitat in Ecuador has been devastating and, when you think about it, 9.5 billion dollars is a small price to pay for the damage done to this country’s ecosystems and, worst of all, its people who’ve suffered tremendously throughout all of this.

Texaco should consider itself highly fortunate to get off so easily because what all of this really boils down to are criminal acts that took place with a complete disregard for the welfare of a nation resulting in untold suffering and the horrific deaths of many Ecuadorans, not to mention the damage to the country’s life-sustaining biosphere that will take generations to recover from, if it happens at all.

Truth be told, no amount of cleanup efforts can ever undo the damage that’s been done, so putting a price tag on the whole thing doesn’t do justice to what really happened there.

These oil companies are, in fact, the most highly profitable businesses in the history of our planet, so they are uniquely capable of paying such an amount in reparations to the people of Ecuador for the deliberate, reckless, and wanton destruction of one of their country’s greatest resources, which is their land--the earth--the place they call home.

(Documental - David contra Goliat - Spanish)