U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State urging the Department not to extend the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) for Ecuador due to ongoing abuses of human rights and a deteriorating business climate. Ros-Lehtinen is also a co-sponsor of H. Res. 745, legislation authored by U.S. Reps. Connie Mack (R-FL) and Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), expressing Congressional disapproval of renewing Ecuador's trade preferences. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Since his rise to power, Rafael Correa has led attacks on democracy and freedom of speech, and has waged a campaign to silence any and all opposition voices. Correa has corrupted the judicial branch and punished independent journalists with a series of politicized court rulings and law suits.
"As Correa continues his power grab at the expense of the Ecuadorian people, he has positioned himself as a close ally of the dangerous Iranian regime, threatens USAID programs, and continues to undermine U.S. interests in the region. Additionally, U.S. companies face an increasingly difficult business environment, including high levels of corruption in the judicial branch which has resulted in a lack of safeguards against the threat of expropriation.
"The U.S. must not reward Correa's radical behavior and extend Ecuador's trade preferences under the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA). I strongly urge the Department of State, the U.S. Trade Representative, and Congress to reject the renewal of the Act for Ecuador in order to send a clear message that we stand on the side of democracy and against corrupt regimes which trample democratic principles."
NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen also sent a letter to the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, an organization that receives U.S. taxpayer funding, expressing her concerns of an event they hosted in coordination with the regime in Ecuador.