Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Structural Difficulties

As always, Greg Palast has the goods. Below, he reveals the real reason for the Bush Regime's attacks on Ecuador's new president, the mild-mannered, pro-American heart doctor, Alfredo Palacio. (Attacks seconded by the faithful spear-carriers at the New York Times, now busy turning the conservative Palacio into the second coming of Hugo Che Fidel Zapata Chavez.) The answer, of course, as always with the Bushists, is -- oil and investments.

You should read the whole piece, but here's a prime nugget that Palast unearthed: a secret codicil from the World Bank's "structural adjustment" loan to the poverty-stricken nation in 2002. First, some background:

"This nation of only 13 million souls at the world's belly button is rich, sitting on 4.4 billion barrels of known oil reserves, and probably much more. Yet 60 percent of its citizens live in brutal poverty; a lucky minority earn the 'minimum' wage of $153 a month."

And now the World Bank's draconian terms:

"The secret loan terms require Ecuador to pay bondholders 70 percent of the revenue received from any spike in the price of oil. The result: Ecuador must give up the big bucks from the Iraq War oil price surge. Another 20 percent of the oil windfall is set aside for 'contingencies' (i.e., later payments to bondholders). The document specifies that Ecuador may keep only 10 percent of new oil revenue for expenditures on social services."

A sweet deal for dabblers in national debt -- 90 percent of the gravy for the investment class, dregs for the useless rabble. But surely the World Bank will no longer pursue such hateful and harmful policies, now that it's in the hands of that great humanitarian -- Paul Wolfowitz.

Ecuador Gets Chávez'd, by Greg Palast.