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Ecuador: Outcomes and Challenges of the Citizens' Revolution

Mon, May. 11, 2015 5:45pm — 8:30pm
Lecture Theatre 119, Hunter Building, Victoria University, Kelburn Parade, Wellington.

Council members and friends were treated to a captivating address on Ecuador's Citizens' Revolution this month from His Excellency Leonardo Arizaga, Ecuador's Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs. His talk, which was delivered to an audience of 43 people on 11 May at Victoria University of Wellington, presented the historic transformations Ecuador has undergone since 2007 under President Rafael Correa.

Accompanying the Vice-Minister was Ecuador's Canberra-based Ambassador to New Zealand, Raul Gangotena, who attended our last Prime Minister's lunch in 2013. In attendance too were New Zealand's new Ambassador to Ecuador, Jacqui Caine (a former LANZBC Director); the Ambassadors of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba and Mexico; and members of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.

Because of its focus on education, too, students were transferring from public to private schools and scoring higher in international tests, and teachers were being appointed because of their competence not Communist ideology.

As the Vice-Minister also said, however, Ecuador still had to change its productive base away from primary commodities, so was investing more per capita in higher education than any other Latin American country (and sending top students abroad on full Masters and PhD scholarships.) This year, too, the drop in oil prices was leading to a significant fall in national revenue. Even so, Ecuador was now a politically stable high-to-middle income country that was growing above the average rate for the region, had the lowest unemployment rate in South America, and was investing in numerous energy projects.

Internationally, its attempts to protect its ecodiversity while promoting development had underpinned its appeal to the other countries to help it find alternatives to drilling for oil in its national parks, while the Pope had invited President Correa to serve on a panel helping him write a climate change encyclical.

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