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Greg Palast meets with Washington’s newest bete noire of Latin America, Ecuador’s President Alfredo Palacio, and discusses the confidential World Bank agreements that shackle his nation.
Greg Palast reports from Center of the World, Ecuador
The equator is far more tacky than I imagined.
I’d taken time out from the state of siege in the capitol to take the twins on a quick holiday further up the Andes (or down, I don’t know which).
Anyway, the Ciudad Centro del Mundo — City at the Center of the World — had loudspeakers on poles scratching out some Inca-cum-New Age Muzak.
It cost a dollar and a half US to stand on the planet’s belly button — that’s a buck fifty in the local currency, too — Ecuador’s been “dollarized,” which is why everyone is flat broke and in a bad mood and why Quechua women in bowler hats were screaming into the cameras, “TODO FUERA! TODO FUERA !” — Everybody out! — in front of the Presidential Palace.
It’s quiet now, but all police leave in the capital has been cancelled. They’re taking no chances after last week’s anti-globalisation protests in Quebec and the street wars on this spot during the same meeting last year of the IMF and World Bank. So what’s their complaint? The protesters say that what we have here is a conspiracy – the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organisation don’t help the poor of the world, they crush them. Well, the bosses are here today, let’s ask them. Mr Wolfensohn, the protesters say you are the chief of a secretive, undemocratic world government which has made poverty worse worldwide. How do you respond?
So call me a liar. I was standing in front of the New York Hilton Hotel when the limousine carrying International Monetary Fund director Horst Koehler zoomed by, hitting a bump. Out flew a confidential report, Ecuador Interim Country Assistance Strategy. You suspect that’s not how I got it, but you can trust me that it contains the answer to a puzzling question.