Five questions for President Correa

In my seventeen years on the faculty here at Yale, I have never sought to write to you.

I reach out to you today because the visit of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was an affront to many of the values we treasure here at Yale and the United States.

Though elected to his post, Rafael Correa rules as a despot. He has all but silenced the news media in his country and has also crushed political opponents through violence and intimidation.

I attended Correa’s talk yesterday, but was not allowed to ask any questions. So here are five questions for him.

1. Mr. President, you have been criticized for attacks on freedom of expression by groups including Human Rights Watch, Committee to Protect Journalists and the U.S. Department of State for your attacks on media and civil society. Yet here you are speaking at a University that prides itself on freedom of expression and vigorous debate. If Yale were located in Ecuador, would any considerations keep you from closing down Yale if its students and faculty dared to challenge your policies?

2. Mr. President, you have approved a law that requires public media in Ecuador to report on all issues the government considers of public interest. You were educated in the USA and have seen first hand the contribution a free press and robust civil society can bring to a nation. Why is it that you refuse to tolerate free speech and open debate in Ecuador?

3. Mr. President, you are an enthusiastic supporter of the Castro regime in Cuba, one of the most repressive states on earth, which forbids freedom of expression to all its citizens, denies them internet access and has been condemned repeatedly by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders as one of the most flagrant abusers of human rights on planet earth. Would you like to comment on this?

4. Mr. President, it is common knowledge that Ecuador wants to return to international financial markets to borrow money again following its 2008 default. Yet you yourself have publicly attacked bond holders, calling them “true monsters.” Outside institutions tend to think that the rule of law and protection for investors is weak in Ecuador. So what is the case you make for investing in Ecuador today?

5. Mr. President, your government has approved laws that give you the right to close an NGO if the government determines it has undermined “public peace.” Pachamama, one of Ecuador’s most prominent environmental NGOs was ordered shut down after being accused of stirring up rowdy protests. Would you like to comment on this incident and others like it?

6. Mr. President, LifeSitesNews.com reported in Jan. 6, 2014 from Quito that you had “criticized gender ideology, calling it absurd and very dangerous.” Speaking about gays, you were also reported as saying “We respect them as persons… But we don’t share these barbarities.”  Would you like to explain these statements to the Yale community?

While Correa has every right to speak freely here at Yale, and to be treated with respect, he also needs to be reminded that back in Ecuador he is denying his country the same rights that allow him to speak to us.

Dictators should never feel comfortable beyond their borders, or within them. And when they venture to praise themselves on foreign soil, they should be reminded that tolerance is a two-way street.

Carlos Eire

April 10

The writer is the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies.

  • Joaquin Vergara

    I’m deeply surprised to read this opinions in the form of questions solely based on misinformation that I presume came from the constant freedom of press we have in Ecuador that every day claim so many restrictions to civil liberties and yet they have the freedom to publish anything they want and were no where to be found in the past when Ecuador was begin ransacked by white collar criminals and the complicit demeanor of the international community, NGOs, the media, etc.
    As a professor and academic your information should come directly from the source. If you were able to see Ecuador,the before and after President Correa I’m sure your opinion will change.
    I invite you to come to Ecuador and see for yourself this reality. And if you want to stay after, we are recruiting great academic minds with PHDs willing to teach our youth The government program is called “Prometeo ” and if you need also Ecuador’s government will provide with travel and lodge assistance.
    The concept of dictator fits to some one who won power thru democratic elections for three consecutive times and last election accumulated over 67% of the popular vote, and even more, enjoys an approval rate of more than 80%?…… Humm
    Please before taking time to elaborate biased questions take time to investigate your information more deeply and cross check your sources.
    Thanks for your time and remember Ecuador is waiting for you with open arms and a smile.

    • Fernando

      Joaquin:

      They DO NOT have the freedom to write what ever they want. Do you know that right know “El Extra” newspaper is being punished for publishing girls wearing a bikini?

      That’s just one example, I can give you at least ten.

      • Mario Anda

        girls with bikinis???!!! have you ever seen these girls on public newstands? minors walk past and watch these pictures everyday. Imagine if one of the traditional “newspapers” in the oh so purist USA had these pictures within their pages, they would be inside a plastic bag right beside Hustler and Playboy, up in the top of the magazine section in supermarkets.. not in public places to bee seen.

  • VERDAD EN PERIODISMO

    1. Mr. Eire, the USA has also been criticized by Human Rights Watch for the torture at Guantanamo and drone attacks on innocent families. Committee to Protect Journalists who witnessed the murder of a journalist via Manning or the U.S. Department of State for the privacy attacks on civilians by the NSA via Snowden. Yet here you are insulting a President that reduced poverty, improved education and eliminated the monopoly of Media. If you were located in Ecuador, you would have
    the same freedom to express your bias opinion based on your childhood memories
    of Cuba.

    2. Mr. Eire, are you aware of the US Presidents weekly radio address or the state of
    the union address that is required to broadcast nationwide. Are you aware of the US Telecommunication laws that prohibits Slander, lies and defamation On-Air. You have seen firsthand the errors and lies committed by the free press and the powers that the media has over civil society that can bring a nation down. Why is it that your hate for the Castro regime clouds your perception on a Socialist System like that of Canada or Nordic Countries?

    3. Mr. Eire, you are an enthusiastic supporter of the Middle East Regime and other puppet governments imposed by the US, one of the most repressive states on earth,
    which as responsible for the terrorist attacks on the US as outlined by Amnesty
    International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders as one of the
    most flagrant abusers of human rights on planet earth. Would you like to
    comment on this or does Oil make you go blind?

    4. Mr. Eire, It is common knowledge that China has lent the US money to survive and
    that the US has given that Tax money to the Bankers and multinationals during
    the Bank Crisis. Yet you support the bankers and multinationals. So what is the case you make for paying taxes and US dept to give to China and Bankers?

    5. Mr. Eire, your government has not signed Kyoto, Human Rights Agreements and other international treaties that put Human life over capital benefits. What right do you have to comment on countries that have signed and followed the treaties? Would you like to comment on this and other hypocritical comments?

    6. Mr. Eire, Wikileaks and Snowden reported that the US has violated every sovereign right and human right imaginable. In regards to Gay rights, would you like to comment on some states that forbid gay marriages, adoption or the Anti-Gay laws of Arizona, Idaho or Mississippi? Would you like to explain these statements to the world?

    • Lee Viteri

      This comment is a typical response of Rafael Correa and his followers. They don’t engage debating issues, the response always comes as personal attacks or like in this case attacking the US. Mr. Eire is asking valid questions that you or your leader respond. why don’t you “verdad en periodismo” send an uredacted transcript of one of those “marvelous” weekly addresses of your leader to Mr. Eires, so he can read by himself how RC insults, defame and lie about any journalist or politician that has a different view of his.

      • VERDAD EN PERIODISMO

        Here is the response from the President elect of Ecuador who was elected three times by a majority and has an approval rating of 85% and was listed as the most respected president in Latin America and has been recognized by universities and institutions for his leadership in turning Ecuador around and reducing poverty and providing equality and dignity to the Ecuadorian People.

        http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/04/09/real-freedom-requires-justice/m5aUIBXL3JsQobAQCAtrsO/story.html

        Continue to write your opinion on how much you hate Correa as in the end, only Ecuadorians can vote to reelect Correa. But as we are a very welcoming society, you are invited and see for yourself, fly to the new airports, drive on the new highways, stay at Hotels where every employee has a dignified salary, walk on safe streets and if you need to use a bathroom, pass by the new community Police Stations where police with new equipment and professionally trained will help you. Also, should there be an emergency, call the new ECU911 which monitors all emergencies or order a emergency Button to be connected at all time. Should the emergency require medical attention, you will be taken to the new hospitals and communicate health centers at no charge. You will be taken care of by Doctors and specialist trained abroad by the over 8000 scholarships to the best universities or at the new Universities with Phd professors from all over the world. Should you need to connect to the internet, please visit the new schools and libraries with computers for all students open to the public for internet use. Should you want to physical activities, please visits all the new parks and recreations centers or take a bike ride on the new Bicycle lanes.

        But if you are still unsatisfied and want to complain directly to the president, please stand outside of the Presidential palace every Monday and scream and shout that there is no Freedom of Speech with the other oppositions groups. Its your choice but in the end Ecuadorians are proud of their president and will defend him like they did on 30th of September during the attempted Coup.

        • Fernando

          Dear Ecuadorian fellow:

          I was born in Quito, in the “San Marcos” neighborhood.It is one of the most traditional ones in Ecuador. I share this with you, so you don’t invite me to visit that paradise you’re talking about. I know a different Ecuador. Please, allow me to comment on your words.

          First, correa DOES NOT have an approval rating of 85% , that is a blatant lie, but don’t worry I heard correa saying the same thing, so I’ll take it as one more of his extensive repertory of fallacies and lies, you are just echoing them.

          Second, it is true that correa has reduced the rate of poverty in Ecuador, but, it is also truth that former Presidents’ rate of poverty reduction was better than correa’s. A little detail on this one: the oil price now is $100 per barrel on average, it was less than $15 before, do the math.

          Third, the fact that correa is giving speeches in first world universities doesn’t make him a good prefesional, or President. Proof: Yamil Mahuad is a professor in Harvard, and we both know how “good” a President he was, ok?

          Fourth: Your words: “Walk on safe streets”, are you kidding me? That must be a joke, right? Did you even hear about the couple of Japanese tourist that were kidnapped and killed recently? Do you know someone in Quito who hasn’t been victim of the delincuency? The crime rates are increasing by day, and you know it.

          Fifth: It is also truth that correa has built schools, hospitals, and roads, but: Isn’t that the role of the state? Correct me if I’m wrong, but, correa did not build the roads by himself, neither he used his own money, right? Since when do I have to shout “aleluya” for a road built with MY TAXES?!

          Sixth: the rampant corruption of this regime is reflected on PEDRO DELGADO, a corrupt individual who worked for Mahuad as well. A white collar that correa himself allowed to run away with our money, does it have something to do the fact that they are relatives?

          Finally: DO NOT count on me or my family to defend a corrupt new rich, as correa, in any way, shape or form.

          Speak for yourself please.

        • Grace

          Look at all the real estate confiscated by the Government all over Ecuador from private owners. Look at all the companies moving to Peru. What will be left? Welfare? And that bicycle lane built on Via a la Costa, who actually uses it? NO ONE, it is just another project by Correa to funnel money into his own pocket. Who owns the corporations doing the construction with over inflated costs? By the way that new bicycle lane was a complete waste and is now being paved over after less than a year to accommodate a wider freeway to Salinas. Correa is going to ruin Ecuador sooner than later.

    • DuardO

      Tu quoque fallacies, strawman arguments and more bullshit. It’s indeed a typical and embarrasing manifestation of their modus operandi.

      It’s not true Rafael Correa has an approval rating of 85%. The government propagandists like to brag using inflated numbers. The usual 80 to 85 percent figure is from a prostituded pollster called Perfiles de Opinion (her CEO, Paulina Recalde, is friendly with the regime). The elections are the most trustworthy poll, and while Correa did win three elections, he didn’t achieve more than 60% of the votes. And just look at the latest local elections: Rafael Correa’s party, Alianza PAIS, suffered an important political setback in the capital cities, despite the caudillo’s efforts to patronize his party candidates using (unethically) his image. The actual approval rating of Correa is circa 60 to 65% (this is from Cedatos/Gallup, whose numbers match the election results more coherently).

      • YogaGYE

        Ha ha ha, you are full of it. But when Mr. Nebot (Guayaquil’s Major) uses those same polls of ‘Perfiles de Opinión’ to talk about his 90% approval that the poll gives to him, but he gets just 60% on the actual elections… I imagine that is fair and balance. Man, one thing is approval rating and another one very different is ‘intention to vote’. You are funny dude, indeed.

        • DuardO

          That’s because Perfiles de Opinion is a pollster that uses slanted questions to measure the approval ratings. With no middle ground, just “black or white” questions (and a poor sampling methodology), the results of the poll is affected. They give an inflated number.

          That explains the huge gap between the approval and the voting intention ratings. It just doesn’t make sense.

          You are still ignorantly wrong anyway. Because Perfiles de Opinion also published completely absurd voting intention numbers that favored the main party’s mayor candidate for Quito, and as three weeks later was evidenced by the election results (and contrasted by the more reliable poll of Cedatos), it was bogus.

          Trust me, critical thinking and research skills are not your specialty.

  • Frank Calzon

    Some of the comments on Professor Eire simply missed the point. Eire is not justifying whatever abuses take place in the United States. He is saying that, like when Obama comes to speak at various venues, the President of Ecuador should be willing to answer questions. It is too bad that Correa does not allow in Ecuador the kind of respect and tolerance that he enjoyed at Yale. Those who years ago criticized Josef Stalin were also told that they failed to understand the great achievements of Uncle Joe. Critics of Eire are entitled to their own views, but as it has been said, they are not entitled to their own opinions.

    Frank Calzon
    Executive Director
    Center for a Free Cuba

  • Daniel I. Pedreira

    Yale should be proud to have a Professor Eire who is willing to speak truth to power. His critics’ credibility would be increased if they were to respond to his questions and refrain from ad hominim attacks. And by the way, how many in the Yale academic community know of his ties to regimes listed in the State Department roster of supporters of international terrorism: Syria, Iran and Cuba?

    • http://www.presstitutes.org/ Mike Conrad

      Lodging politically-correct criticisms of a foreign leader from the safe perch of a tenured professorship in the USA hardly constitutes speaking ‘truth to power’. That would entail risk and actual disclosure–like, for example, what Edward Snowden did.

      • theantiyale

        I guess you’ve never worked in Academia. People get “frozen out” by colleagues, the pariah, Typhoid Mary effect. Hence my comment above about “repercussions.”

  • sy

    Does Ecuador have the same glorious freedoms, democracy, inflation and future of Venezuela?

  • theantiyale

    “I attended Correa’s talk yesterday, but was not allowed to ask any questions”
    Was this a general prohibition or one imposed solely on you?
    If it was a general prohibition, its speak for itself as cowardice and control-freak tightfistedness.
    Glad you raised your questions in YDN. Hope there are no sudden “repercussions.”

  • George Munoz

    Excellent questions, just to mention that there are 6 questions, not 5 🙂

  • Daniel

    Dear Carlos Erie

    Those “clever” questions did to him long before and not in your “magnificent” Yale. Rafael Correa has answered them with plenty of support for your knowledge.
    So as you are a “distinguished” Professor please investigate and find out the answers, because I will not do your job.
    Ok, I will give you a hint: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMQEvZ4itoo).
    Besides, your opinion is very slanted, without contrasting …. very poor article.

    Daniel.

    • Denisse

      Indeed!

  • Denisse

    It’s amazing that this was written by a Yale professor, the sole word dictator disqualifies your entire article I’m afraid. You see, President Rafael Correa was elected by the ecuadorian people and did not impose himself, which would make him that, a dictator. Plus, a dictator that acts ” beyond their borders, or within them” as you say, bombs any nation that disagrees with their policies, with sanctions or actual bombs like your government. So, instead of insulting my country and its people with false accusations and mockery, wouldn’t it be more productive to make such “accute recommendations” to your own country?