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From: ms.smartest.person10/11/2006 12:49:38 PM
   of 5140
 
North Korea Threatens War Against U.S. for 'Hostile Attitude' and 'Pestering'

By HANS GREIMEL
The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea warned on Wednesday that increased U.S. pressure over the regime's reported nuclear test could be considered an act of war, and South Korea suggested it would build up its conventional arsenal to deal with its belligerent neighbor.

North Korea's No. 2 leader threatened to conduct more nuclear tests if the United States continued what he called its "hostile attitude."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States would not attack North Korea, rejecting a suggestion that Pyongyang may feel it needs nuclear weapons to stave off an Iraq-style U.S. invasion.

In its first formal statement since the test, North Korea said it could respond to U.S. pressure with "physical" measures.

"If the U.S. keeps pestering us and increases pressure, we will regard it as a declaration of war and will take a series of physical corresponding measures," the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. The statement didn't specify what those measures could be.

Japan planned to impose a total ban on North Korean imports and prohibit its ships from entering Japanese ports, a news report said. The sanctions will also expand restrictions on North Korean nationals entering Japan, the country's public broadcaster NHK said.

The sanctions, which also expand restrictions on North Korean nationals entering Japan, are to be announced following an emergency security meeting headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later Wednesday, according to NHK.

Cabinet spokesman Hiroshi Suzuki confirmed a security meeting was scheduled, but refused to discuss its agenda. He said sanctions, if approved, could take effect immediately.

Along the razor-wired no-man's-land separating the divided Koreas, communist troops on the North's side were more boldly trying to provoke their Southern counterparts: spitting across the demarcation line, making throat-slashing hand gestures, flashing their middle finger and trying to talk to the troops, said U.S. Army Maj. Jose DeVarona of Fayetteville, N.C., adding that the overall situation was calm.

It appeared to be business as usual on the streets of North Korea's capital. Video by AP Television News showed people milling about Kim II Sung square and rehearsing a performance for the 80th anniversary of the "Down with Imperialism Union."

Kim Yong Nam, second to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, told Japan's Kyodo News agency that further nuclear testing would hinge on U.S. policy toward the communist government.

"The issue of future nuclear tests is linked to U.S. policy toward our country," Kim was quoted as saying when asked whether Pyongyang will conduct more nuclear tests.

"If the United States continues to take a hostile attitude and apply pressure on us in various forms, we will have no choice but to take physical steps to deal with that," Kyodo quoted him as saying.

South Korea's defense minister said that Seoul could enlarge its conventional arsenal to deal with a potentially nuclear-armed North Korea.

"If North Korea really has the (nuclear) capabilities, we will improve and enlarge the number of conventional weapons as long as it doesn't violate the principle of denuclearization," Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung told parliament.

"We will supplement (our ability) to conduct precision strikes against storage facilities and intercept delivery means, while also improving the system of having military units and individuals defend themselves," he said.

Scientists and other governments have said Monday's underground test has yet to be confirmed, with some experts saying the blast was significantly smaller than even the first nuclear bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.

North Korea appeared to respond to that Wednesday, saying in its statement that it "successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions."

In rare direct criticism of the communist regime from Seoul, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said that the security threat cited by North Korea is exaggerated or nonexistent.

"North Korea says the reason it is pursuing nuclear (weapons) is for its security, but the security threat North Korea speaks of either does not exist in reality, or is very exaggerated," Roh said, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

He spoke even as South Korea's military was checking its readiness for nuclear attack, Yonhap said. The Joint Chiefs of Staff told Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung that the military needed an improved ability to respond to such an attack, including state-of-the-art weapons capable of destroying a nuclear missile, the report said.

Rice said President Bush has told the North Koreans that "there is no intention to invade or attack them. So they have that guarantee. ... I don't know what more they want."

Rice told CNN Tuesday that Bush "never takes any of his options off the table. But is the United States, somehow, in a provocative way, trying to invade North Korea? It's just not the case."

The top U.S. general in South Korea said that American forces are fully capable of deterring an attack from the North despite the communist nation's claim of a nuclear test.

"Be assured that the alliance has the forces necessary to deter aggression, and should deterrence fail, decisively defeat any North Korean attack against" South Korea, U.S. Army Gen. B.B. Bell said in a statement to troops. "U.S. forces have been well trained to confront nuclear, biological and chemical threats."

About 29,500 U.S. troops are deployed in the South, a remnant of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a cease-fire that has never been replaced by a peace treaty.

Bell said the seismic waves detected after the claimed test were still being analyzed and that it had not been yet determined if they indicated a successful nuclear test.

A media report that North Korea may have conducted a second nuclear test rattled nerves Wednesday, but the Japanese government said there was no indication that a test had taken place.

NHK reported around 8:30 a.m. that unidentified government sources were saying that "tremors" had been detected in North Korea.

South Korean and U.S. seismic monitoring stations said that they hadn't detected any activity indicating a second test, and White House spokesman Blair Jones said the United States had detected no evidence of additional North Korean testing.

At the United Nations, China agreed to punishment of North Korea but not severe sanctions backed by the U.S., which it said would be too crushing for its impoverished communist ally.

Beijing is seen as having the greatest outside leverage on North Korea as a traditional ally and top provider of badly needed economic and energy aid.

The United States asked the U.N. Security Council to impose a partial trade embargo including strict limits on Korea's weapons exports and freezing of related financial assets.

All imports would be inspected too, to filter materials that could be made into nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

Pyongyang has demanded one-on-one talks with Washington and has threatened to launch a nuclear-tipped missile if the U.S. doesn't comply.

Washington insists on the so-called six-party format, where Russia, China, South Korea and Japan have joined the United States in talking to North Korea.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

abcnews.go.com

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From: ms.smartest.person10/15/2006 12:27:09 PM
   of 5140
 
Another 139 Immigrants Reach the Canaries

Madrid, Oct 15 (Prensa Latina) The wave of African immigrants for the Canary Islands seems unlikely to be contained, when another 139 people reached that territory Sunday and were taken to the already packed refuges.

In the last few hours, crafts full of people, including 13 minors, arrived at Los Cristianos Port, south of Tenerife, Austin Taylor, coordinator of the Red Cross in that region, confirmed today.

The official said that in general, the immigrants are in good health conditions, though a few of them needed medical care due to slight wounds.

The agreements of the Spanish government with those of Senegal, Mali, and Guinea to try to stop the flood of immigrants and get rid of related people-smuggling mafias, have not yet shown the awaited results.

The government of President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is seeking the support of political parties for the creation of a state Immigration and Emigration Agency to cope with the issue, but the opposition Popular Party rejects the idea.

ln dig lma

PL-15

plenglish.com{CD9D9C16-571F-46EB-87D7-AEE67A6613B1})&language=EN

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To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5090)10/15/2006 12:28:42 PM
From: ms.smartest.person
   of 5140
 
Spain to Host Anti-imperialist Forum

Madrid, Oct 15 (Prensa Latina) The 2nd Anti-imperialist Conference, rear to the first one held in Havana, Cuba, will take place from October 25 to 28 in Oviedo, Spain, confirmed the general coordinator of the event, David Acera.

In an interview with Prensa Latina, the Asturias´ leader said that Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon, the director of Le Monde Diplomatique, Ignacio Ramonet, and Venezuelan vice Minister of Culture Ivan Padilla, are among the meeting participants.

Spanish academicians settled in France Ramon Chau and his son Antoine, Venezuelan speaker Blanca Eekhou, Spanish writers Andres Sorel, Santiago Alba Rico and Belen Gopegi will also take part in the event.

Cuban Iroel Sanchez, Colombian union leader Haydee Moreno, jouranalist Javier Couso from El Mundo daily and also brother of cameraman Jose Couso killed by the US troops in Iraq, and Communist leader Julio Anguita will make their speeches at the conference.

The event will be carried out in round tables to achieve an active participation of the audience at the Philharmonic Theater of Oviedo.

ln ajs lma

PL-9
plenglish.com{559C7B48-7583-493A-8EC0-54052351E920})&language=EN

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From: ms.smartest.person10/20/2006 11:17:51 AM
   of 5140
 
US Frets over Ecuador Base

Washington, Oct 17 (Prensa Latina) Gen. Bantz Craddock, chief of the South Command, admitted that the permanence of the US military base in Ecuador is on tenterhooks, the Miami Herald daily reported Tuesday.

Craddock noted the US military command is closely following the elections in the South American state as the future of its units in that territory depends on the next president.

The October 15 balloting in Ecuador did not produce a winner so electoral authorities said there will be a runoff.

One of the candidates, Rafael Correa, announced that if he wins the presidency he will not renew the contract with Washington s base in Manta, near the Pacific Coast.

Although the White House insists that its military contingent is accomplishing anti-drug trafficking operations, several social organizations knock those actions as meddling.

sus ymr jvj mf
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To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5092)10/20/2006 11:18:43 AM
From: ms.smartest.person
   of 5140
 
Top election official dismisses cries of fraud in Ecuador presidential vote

The Associated Press

Published: October 17, 2006
QUITO, Ecuador Ecuador's top election official on Tuesday dismissed allegations that the breakdown of the computerized "quick count" in Sunday's first-round vote indicates fraud.

"Things should not be confused nor distorted in an unhealthy or ill-intentioned way. There has been no intention of fraud in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal," the organization's president Xavier Cazar told Radio Universal.

Rafael Correa, a leftist candidate who is heading into a presidential runoff, had alleged the computer crash was not a technical failure but part of a scheme to cost him votes.

Preliminary results show none of the 13 candidates Sunday gained a majority of ballots for president, setting up a Nov. 26 runoff between the top two vote-getters, Alvaro Noboa, Ecuador's wealthiest man, and Correa, an economist who has been heavily critical of U.S. policy in Latin America.

With 53 percent of the vote counted Tuesday afternoon, Correa was tied with Noboa, each with about 25 percent.

Sunday night a computerized "quick count" of paper ballots showed Noboa taking a surprising 4-point lead over Correa, spurring Correa and his supporters to cry fraud.

"The dictatorship of a Mafia has us cornered," Correa told Channel 8 television on Monday, insisting he and his vice-presidential running-mate, Lenin Moreno, had won Sunday's election.

"They are committing a fraud against us," Correa said.

An observer mission from the Organization of American States disagreed Tuesday.

"In this stage there aren't any accusations nor evidence of fraud," OAS mission chief Rafael Bielsa told reporters.

Correa had earlier accused Bielsa of negligence and demanded he step down as head of the OAS mission.

The electoral tribunal pulled the plug on the US$5.2 million (€4.2 million) contract it had with the Brazilian company, E-Vote, hired to carry out the quick count, after its computer system crashed with some 30 percent of ballots still uncounted.

"There was a technical failure in the transmission of preliminary electoral results by the company E-Vote and its people have acknowledged and assumed responsibility for it," Cazar said.

Correa, a tall, charismatic firebrand, who had been favored to lead Sunday's voting, pledges a "citizens' revolution" against the discredited political system. An admirer and avowed friend of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez, Correa, 43, has echoed his anti-U.S. rhetoric and alarmed Wall Street with threats to default on foreign debt payments.

Ecuadoreans have driven the last three elected presidents from power and Correa appeals to voters as a fresh face in a field of established politicians.

Standing in his way is banana tycoon Noboa, 55, a pro-business candidate who favors stronger ties with Washington.

Merrill Lynch on Tuesday said it had raised its recommendation for investment in Ecuador after bonds rallied sharply on Noboa's strong showing in the ballot.

"Not only may Rafael Correa, who threatened a possible debt default, not win the second round, but even if he were to win, it would likely be with a weaker mandate," Merrill Lynch said in a report.


QUITO, Ecuador Ecuador's top election official on Tuesday dismissed allegations that the breakdown of the computerized "quick count" in Sunday's first-round vote indicates fraud.

"Things should not be confused nor distorted in an unhealthy or ill-intentioned way. There has been no intention of fraud in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal," the organization's president Xavier Cazar told Radio Universal.

Rafael Correa, a leftist candidate who is heading into a presidential runoff, had alleged the computer crash was not a technical failure but part of a scheme to cost him votes.

Preliminary results show none of the 13 candidates Sunday gained a majority of ballots for president, setting up a Nov. 26 runoff between the top two vote-getters, Alvaro Noboa, Ecuador's wealthiest man, and Correa, an economist who has been heavily critical of U.S. policy in Latin America.

With 53 percent of the vote counted Tuesday afternoon, Correa was tied with Noboa, each with about 25 percent.

Sunday night a computerized "quick count" of paper ballots showed Noboa taking a surprising 4-point lead over Correa, spurring Correa and his supporters to cry fraud.

"The dictatorship of a Mafia has us cornered," Correa told Channel 8 television on Monday, insisting he and his vice-presidential running-mate, Lenin Moreno, had won Sunday's election.

"They are committing a fraud against us," Correa said.

An observer mission from the Organization of American States disagreed Tuesday.

"In this stage there aren't any accusations nor evidence of fraud," OAS mission chief Rafael Bielsa told reporters.

Correa had earlier accused Bielsa of negligence and demanded he step down as head of the OAS mission.

The electoral tribunal pulled the plug on the US$5.2 million (€4.2 million) contract it had with the Brazilian company, E-Vote, hired to carry out the quick count, after its computer system crashed with some 30 percent of ballots still uncounted.

"There was a technical failure in the transmission of preliminary electoral results by the company E-Vote and its people have acknowledged and assumed responsibility for it," Cazar said.

Correa, a tall, charismatic firebrand, who had been favored to lead Sunday's voting, pledges a "citizens' revolution" against the discredited political system. An admirer and avowed friend of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez, Correa, 43, has echoed his anti-U.S. rhetoric and alarmed Wall Street with threats to default on foreign debt payments.

Ecuadoreans have driven the last three elected presidents from power and Correa appeals to voters as a fresh face in a field of established politicians.

Standing in his way is banana tycoon Noboa, 55, a pro-business candidate who favors stronger ties with Washington.

Merrill Lynch on Tuesday said it had raised its recommendation for investment in Ecuador after bonds rallied sharply on Noboa's strong showing in the ballot.

"Not only may Rafael Correa, who threatened a possible debt default, not win the second round, but even if he were to win, it would likely be with a weaker mandate," Merrill Lynch said in a report.

iht.com

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To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5093)10/20/2006 11:21:19 AM
From: ms.smartest.person
   of 5140
 
Runner-up in Ecuador attacked on Chávez ties
By Simon Romero The New York Times

Published: October 17, 2006
QUITO, Ecuador Rafael Correa, the charismatic economist who had a surprisingly weak showing Sunday in the first round of voting for president, finds himself in a situation that has plagued leftists in other Latin American elections this year: defending his ties to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Álvaro Noboa, a conservative banking and banana magnate, surged ahead by attacking Correa's admiration for Chávez and advocacy of nationalistic economic proposals that seemed inspired by Chávez's policies. The two candidates are expected to compete in a runoff election on Nov. 26.

"Noboa saw the advantage of running against Correa but also against Chávez," said Simón Cueva, an economist and political analyst at the Corporation for Development Studies, an Ecuadorean research institute.

Noboa won 27 percent of the vote and Correa 22 percent, with about 70 percent of the votes counted Monday. Correa challenged the results and said fraud might have marred the count, which suffered from delays.

Noboa called Correa a "friend of terrorists, a friend of Chávez, a friend of Cuba." Correa said Noboa would rule Ecuador like a "banana plantation."

It has been a challenging week for Chávez. Venezuela failed to win enough votes on Monday for a seat on the UN Security Council, possibly depriving its president of an international platform he desires.

The unexpected results in the election here, meanwhile, point to growing unease in some parts of Latin America with political projects whose ambitions coincide too closely with those of Chávez.

"Daniel Ortega must be a little nervous," said Michael Shifter, an analyst at Inter-American Dialogue, a policy institute in Washington. Ortega, who is considered the front-runner in the Nicaraguan presidential election next month, has been endorsed by Chávez, who has been relatively quiet about Correa's campaign in Ecuador.

The perception of support from Chávez has been a mixed blessing in other recent elections. Alan García, whose first term as Peru's president ended in hyperinflation, mounted a comeback this year to defeat Ollanta Humala, an ultranationalist former army officer who had been endorsed by Chávez.

Venezuela's relations with Mexico remain tense after Felipe Calderón, a conservative, defeated Andres Manuel López Obrador, a leftist, for the presidency this year. Calderón used images of Chávez in television ads during the campaign to criticize López Obrador.

Now Noboa, a billionaire who controls more than 100 companies in Ecuador and other countries, signaled that he would end diplomatic relations with Venezuela and Cuba if elected.

"I'm not a hypocrite," he said in televised comments. "I don't like the double standard."

Issues other than Venezuela have also dominated Ecuador's presidential race. Noboa wants to negotiate a trade agreement with Washington and favors extending an agreement that would allow American soldiers to remain in Manta, an air base used by the U.S. military for drug surveillance flights.

Correa, like most of the other Ecuadorean presidential candidates, disagreed with Noboa on those issues. Drawing inspiration from Argentina, Correa also said he wanted to renegotiate Ecuador's foreign debt, a move that worried foreign banks about dealing with another messy default.

Noboa and Correa both campaigned as populists, as did Gilmar Gutiérrez, the brother of a deposed former president, who finished third.

Noboa campaigned from the right as a God-fearing businessman, promising cheap housing and handing out free wheelchairs to handicapped supporters.

Correa promises a "citizen's revolution" by rewriting Ecuador's Constitution. He also evoked an affinity with Chávez by professing admiration for the Venezuelan's "Bolivarian" ideals.

Correa said during the campaign that Chávez was a friend and acknowledged meeting with him in Venezuela as recently as August. He repeatedly denied receiving campaign financing from the Venezuelan government.


QUITO, Ecuador Rafael Correa, the charismatic economist who had a surprisingly weak showing Sunday in the first round of voting for president, finds himself in a situation that has plagued leftists in other Latin American elections this year: defending his ties to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Álvaro Noboa, a conservative banking and banana magnate, surged ahead by attacking Correa's admiration for Chávez and advocacy of nationalistic economic proposals that seemed inspired by Chávez's policies. The two candidates are expected to compete in a runoff election on Nov. 26.

"Noboa saw the advantage of running against Correa but also against Chávez," said Simón Cueva, an economist and political analyst at the Corporation for Development Studies, an Ecuadorean research institute.

Noboa won 27 percent of the vote and Correa 22 percent, with about 70 percent of the votes counted Monday. Correa challenged the results and said fraud might have marred the count, which suffered from delays.

Noboa called Correa a "friend of terrorists, a friend of Chávez, a friend of Cuba." Correa said Noboa would rule Ecuador like a "banana plantation."

It has been a challenging week for Chávez. Venezuela failed to win enough votes on Monday for a seat on the UN Security Council, possibly depriving its president of an international platform he desires.

The unexpected results in the election here, meanwhile, point to growing unease in some parts of Latin America with political projects whose ambitions coincide too closely with those of Chávez.

"Daniel Ortega must be a little nervous," said Michael Shifter, an analyst at Inter-American Dialogue, a policy institute in Washington. Ortega, who is considered the front-runner in the Nicaraguan presidential election next month, has been endorsed by Chávez, who has been relatively quiet about Correa's campaign in Ecuador.

The perception of support from Chávez has been a mixed blessing in other recent elections. Alan García, whose first term as Peru's president ended in hyperinflation, mounted a comeback this year to defeat Ollanta Humala, an ultranationalist former army officer who had been endorsed by Chávez.

Venezuela's relations with Mexico remain tense after Felipe Calderón, a conservative, defeated Andres Manuel López Obrador, a leftist, for the presidency this year. Calderón used images of Chávez in television ads during the campaign to criticize López Obrador.

Now Noboa, a billionaire who controls more than 100 companies in Ecuador and other countries, signaled that he would end diplomatic relations with Venezuela and Cuba if elected.

"I'm not a hypocrite," he said in televised comments. "I don't like the double standard."

Issues other than Venezuela have also dominated Ecuador's presidential race. Noboa wants to negotiate a trade agreement with Washington and favors extending an agreement that would allow American soldiers to remain in Manta, an air base used by the U.S. military for drug surveillance flights.

Correa, like most of the other Ecuadorean presidential candidates, disagreed with Noboa on those issues. Drawing inspiration from Argentina, Correa also said he wanted to renegotiate Ecuador's foreign debt, a move that worried foreign banks about dealing with another messy default.

Noboa and Correa both campaigned as populists, as did Gilmar Gutiérrez, the brother of a deposed former president, who finished third.

Noboa campaigned from the right as a God-fearing businessman, promising cheap housing and handing out free wheelchairs to handicapped supporters.

Correa promises a "citizen's revolution" by rewriting Ecuador's Constitution. He also evoked an affinity with Chávez by professing admiration for the Venezuelan's "Bolivarian" ideals.

Correa said during the campaign that Chávez was a friend and acknowledged meeting with him in Venezuela as recently as August. He repeatedly denied receiving campaign financing from the Venezuelan government.

iht.com

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To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5094)10/20/2006 11:23:20 AM
From: ms.smartest.person
   of 5140
 
Ecuador’s election surprise

Guy Hedgecoe
17 - 10 - 2006
The bursting of Rafael Correa's inflated expectations makes Ecuador's second round contest all the more interesting, writes Guy Hedgecoe.
------------------------------------------



The surprise result of Ecuador's first-round presidential election on 15 October 2006 means that a pro-United States multi-millionaire capitalist will compete in the run-off with his political opposite - a radical nationalist economist who claims to have a close friendship with Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.

The banana magnate Álvaro Noboa (of the Partido Renovador Institucional de Acción Nacional [Prian] party) confounded the slow start to his campaign and poor showing in many opinion polls, to emerge as - at least after the official counting of 80% of the ballot-boxes - the marginal winner of the first-round election, with 26.24% of votes. Former finance minister Rafael Correa (of the Alianza País [AP]), who had led many polls for the last weeks of the campaign, was a close second, on 23%.

The clear lead of the two frontrunners, coupled with the fact that together they received only around half of the popular vote, creates a pressure on them to appeal to supporters of other candidates in the second round (some of who, performed respectably in particular areas - Gilmar Gutiérrez, younger brother of former president Lucio Gutiérrez, for example, gained more than 70% of the vote in his native Napo province).

The tight nature of the result, the persistent claims of fraud that have attended it, allied to the vastly opposing ideologies of these two men, mean that the campaign now leading up to the 26 November run-off is likely to be acrimonious as well as hard-fought.
Already on election night, as it became clear who the two finalists were, Noboa was firing the opening salvos. "Correa's stance is communist, dictatorial, the same as Cuba's, whereas I am proposing we become like Spain, Chile, the United States or Italy", he said. His opponent also went on the offensive. "The same old lot, who fritter money away, fritter demagoguery and insult the dignity of Ecuadorians, want to continue dominating us," Correa declared.

The crisis of the parties

The fragmented nature of politics in this nation of 13 million - along geographical, ethnic and ideological lines - is reflected in the fact that thirteen candidates competed in the first-round ballot. This political division has seen seven presidents come and go over the last ten years, three of them ousted before the end of their four-year tenure. Neither Noboa nor Correa has the kind of established support to guarantee this would not happen again under their leadership. But despite the enormous differences between these two candidates, who seem to have little in common apart from their birthplace of Guayaquíl and professed Christian beliefs, each acutely reflects Ecuadorians' clamour for a completely different kind of society and lifestyle.

The 43-year-old Correa began the campaign as a rank outsider, a former finance minister who boasted of his friendship with Venezuela's Chávez and whom few gave any chance of ever reaching the presidency. Nonetheless, his platform and charisma made him the most talked-about candidate on the campaign trail. Born into a lower-middle class Guayaquíl family, he taught economics at a Quito university and studied in Chicago and Belgium before a four-month stint as finance minister under current president Alfredo Palacio. But it is his planned political reforms, rather than his economic proposals, which hogged the limelight during the election campaign.

"We don't have political parties here, what we have are organised mafias who defend vested interests," Correa said halfway through his efficiently run campaign. Presenting himself as "a humanist, leftist Christian," he espouses what he calls "a civic revolution." Dressed in the trademark lime green of his Alianza País movement, Correa's main campaign prop was a belt he brandished, promising to "give a whipping" to corruption and traditional politicians (his name, Correa, means "belt" in Spanish). This is a symbol of the deep-rooted shake-up of the political system which he plans to instigate as president, starting with the establishment of a constituent assembly which would rewrite the constitution.

"We're looking at a major crisis of the political parties. The Ecuadorian people have had enough of them and the parties only have themselves to blame," says sociologist Simon Pachano of the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences (Flacso). "Ecuadorians are not only anti-party right now, but they are against the whole system. So a candidate who presents himself as being against the parties is going to have a great deal of support."

Correa has also woven a fierce nationalist economic thread into his anti-establishment political discourse. His stormy term as finance minister, during which he maintained an ongoing dispute with the International Monetary Fund, is testament to his attitude towards the international financial community. He rejects outright the prospect of negotiating a bilateral trade deal with the United States, or allowing the United States military to keep its air-force base in Ecuador's coastal city of Manta. As for the oil sector, a president Correa would seek to reduce the profits of international firms operating in Ecuador. He has also openly mulled defaulting on the country's foreign debt.

All of the above places this political upstart not only among the new wave of left-leaning Latin American figures currently dominating the region, but firmly on the side of the most radical faction, particularly Chávez, Bolivia's Evo Morales and Cuba's Fidel Castro. Chávez himself, meanwhile, has avoided getting openly involved in Ecuador's campaign, mindful of the controversy his backing for the radical nationalist Ollanta Humala caused in Peru in the two-round presidential election of April and June 2006.

Opponents, yet allies

By contrast, the greatest ally of Noboa, who spends a great deal of his time in the United States, would likely be Washington. Having promised to cut off ties with the governments of Cuba and Venezuela on the grounds of their leftist tendencies, a president Noboa would be virtually alone among his neighbours as the leader of a rightwing administration.

This will be the third presidential run-off in a row for the 55-year-old Noboa, who lost the 1998 and 2002 second-round ballots. His open-market, internationalist stance reflects his upbringing. The son of self-made banana tycoon Luis Noboa, Álvaro was educated in Ecuador, Switzerland, and the United States and he inherited a portion of his father's fortune. His personal wealth is now estimated at around $1.2 billion, with more than 100 companies within his empire.

For much of the campaign, Noboa was apparently off the pace, lagging behind Correa, social democrat León Roldós and Cynthia Viteri of the centre-right Social Christian Party. However, while his awkward personal style may not have helped him, getting out his chequebook to pay for school and hospital equipment in poor villages across the nation in the latter stages of the campaign certainly did. Noboa's huge support in these rural areas has always confounded the pollsters, which rarely stray out of the major urban hubs. His propensity for leaping off the campaign bus whenever it passed a church in order to kneel and pray to keep up his self-styled status as "God's candidate" may also have had an impact on Catholic voters.

By the first-round vote Correa was the firm favourite, largely because he had managed to impose his political reform agenda as the main issue of the campaign. In his slipstream, almost all his opponents - with Noboa a notable exception - felt obliged to promise some form of political revamp. And yet, while Correa's constituent assembly proposal has strong support, the success of Noboa, who has promised to "turn Ecuador's 6 million poor into middle-class citizens," shows that Ecuadorians' economic aspirations are as great as their disenchantment with the political system.

But there is one further trait which unites this pair of politicians who for the most part stand poles apart. Both harbour a deep distrust of and disdain for Ecuador's electoral institutions. Correa was making claims of electoral fraud before the elections had taken place, and as it became apparent that he was trailing Noboa in votes, so his complaints increased in tone. Noboa, meanwhile, has claimed electoral fraud in the past, after his paper-thin loss in 1998 to Jamil Mahuad, and during this election he had no qualms about flaunting the law by proselytising as he cast his vote, or overspending lavishly on his campaign.

This behaviour inevitably creates concerns that Ecuador might witness the kind of political chaos that followed Mexico's election on 2 July, when Andrés Manuel López Obrador refused to acknowledge Felipe Calderón's victory. That is still not certain, but the approaching run-off between Correa and Noboa will without a doubt decide whether Ecuador joins the radical Andean axis led by Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales, or goes the other way, seeking economic salvation under the wing of the United States.
For many, the choice on offer on 26 November - voting is obligatory in Ecuador - is highly unappealing. "Unfortunately, in Ecuador over the last twenty-five years we've been forced to vote for the least bad candidate," said Oswaldo Enríquez, an architect from Quito. "We just want a level of stability and for a president to complete his term would be a major step forward."

opendemocracy.net

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To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5095)10/20/2006 11:27:58 AM
From: ms.smartest.person
   of 5140
 
Ecuador Lawyer Calls Election Fraud

Quito, Oct 17 (Prensa Latina) New protest and judicial actions have been planned for Tuesday in Ecuador, aimed at denouncing alleged fraud in the Sunday presidential elections.

After attending a demonstration in front of the Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) last night, lawyer Augusto Tandazo sustained they will urge the TSE to hand in the CDs containing the electoral acts to examine any modification.

He pointed out the TSE yesterday refused to provide the demanded information, but today they will present a legal order at the court s office.

The lawyer reiterated the irregularities made by the electoral body and E-VOTE firm, which failed to give the election results two hours after the polling sites were closed.

What is most serious is that the TSE sealed its agreement with the Brazilian firm even though it knew of its problems, because it was not committed to guaranteeing the vote, rather making a scene to allow multimillionaire Alvaro Noboa to win.

"If the popular will is altered, then the people will have to rise up because we can no longer endure such electoral manipulation," added Tandazo.

sus dig lgo mf PL-8

plenglish.com

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To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5096)10/20/2006 11:29:47 AM
From: ms.smartest.person
   of 5140
 
Tally Narrower in Presidential Ballot in Ecuador

By SIMON ROMERO

QUITO, Ecuador, Oct. 17 — The presidential race tightened Tuesday when an official count of ballots showed a conservative banana magnate with a narrower margin over his leftist challenger, opening the race to charges of fraud and putting financial markets on edge.

Álvaro Noboa, one of Ecuador’s wealthiest business executives, had 26.1 percent of the vote while Rafael Correa, an economist with nationalist proposals similar to those of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, had 23.3 percent, with 73.2 percent of votes counted as of 7:45 p.m.

A preliminary count of 70 percent of votes from the first election round on Sunday had given Mr. Noboa a lead of almost five percentage points over Mr. Correa.

The narrowing of the count led to a brief sell-off of Ecuador’s bonds on Tuesday, with foreign banks concerned over the possibility of a debt default if Mr. Correa were elected president.

Mr. Correa, a foreign-educated former economy minister, has called for greater government control over the oil industry and for the removal of the United States military from an air base in Manta, on the Pacific coast.

The new figures still point to a runoff between the candidates on Nov. 26, as expected.

But tension is increasing as Mr. Correa and his supporters complain of fraud in an earlier electronic count and several technical snags and delays. Election observers from the Organization of American States called for calm after protests over the slowness in compiling returns.

Both Mr. Noboa and Mr. Correa have campaigned as populists, though Mr. Noboa favors closer ties to the United States while Mr. Correa is critical of American political and economic influence in Ecuador.

Mr. Noboa has stepped up attacks on Mr. Correa over his perceived ties to Mr. Chávez, trying to portray him as a Communist. Mr. Correa has criticized Ecuador’s established political parties, claiming Mr. Noboa represents a corrupt economic elite.

The contest could signal a return to political instability in Ecuador, which has had seven presidents in the last decade.

nytimes.com

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To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (5097)10/20/2006 11:30:31 AM
From: ms.smartest.person
   of 5140
 
Ecuador Elections in Doubt Due to Fraud

Quito, Oct 18 (Prensa Latina) Evidence of significant irregularities in Ecuador´s elections Sunday cast doubt on the official results declaring millionaire Alvaro Noboa of PRIAN (Renovador Institucional) leading with 26.24 percent.
# Ecuador Nominees Gearing for Runoff

With 79.72 percent of the votes counted, Rafael Correa of Alianza Pais, frontrunner in all the pre-election polls, was accounted 23.03 percent, Gilmar Gutierrez (Sociedad Patriotica) 17.72 and Leon Roldos (14.91).

Irregularities include the announced failure of the rapid count by E-VOTE company, the discovery of altered and as many as 10 percent missing ballots in Guayas Province , and photographic evidence of PRIAN members with marked ballots at voting stations.

Ricardo Patillo (Alianza Pais) denounced that Social Christian Alcer Villas, head of TSE planning, had plotted the fraud in secret meetings with executives of E-VOTE, the company hired to make the rapid vote count.

Patillo said their count gave Correa a half point lead over Noboa, and that this was done to snatch votes from Correa to go to the Nov 26 runoffs.

They even pushed for secret scanning but shifted to justify the fraud claiming a collapsed system, denounced congressional candidate Marta Roldos, sister of a presidential candidate, noting that the TSE has not announced the new members of Parliament and called for open-box, manual, transparent count.

ef ccs emw lgo PL-56

plenglish.com

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