Rafael Correa: President Foot-in-Mouth

President Rafael Correa today ordered the immediate expulsion from Ecuador of US diplomat Armando Astorga as retaliation for treating Ecuador “like a Colony.”

Astorga’s alleged offense was a letter to Ecuador’s national police in which $340,000 of US aid was conditioned to the US State Department vetting the selection of the Ecuadorean police officer who would command an elite anti-smuggling group which receives US funding and training support.

Ecuador has long been notorious in Latin America for having perhaps the most corrupt government customs system in the region.

It is standard operating procedure in these cases for the US to have an active role in vetting the appointment of police and military officers to head elite, US-funded police groups responsible for combating drug traffickers, smugglers, kidnappers, etc.

The reason? The US government must be sure the commanders chosen for these elite groups are not corrupt or secretly allied with the criminal organizations they are charged with dismantling.

Nothing worth raising a stink about, but Correa very predictably seized the opportunity to attempt yet again to imitate President Hugo Chavez – and once again Correa wound up looking like the southbound end of a northbound mule.

US diplomat Astorga is “insolent…a thug…keep your dirty money…we don’t need you here….has 48 hours to get out of this country…no more (anti-smuggling) cooperation” with the US, thundered Correa.

However, after Correa’s televised tirade, it was confirmed that Astorga left Ecuador in January at the end of his two-year tour in Quito.

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