Thursday, 18 April 2019

Did U.S. Lean on Ecuador to Hand Over Assange in Exchange for IMF Loan?

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In what is surely just a happy coincidence, less than two months after the government of Ecuador signed an agreement guaranteeing a loan of $4.2 billion from the U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) to that country, Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno revoked the asylum status of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and the latter was arrested.

The IMF loan documents were signed by representatives of the Moreno administration on February 21 and Assange was dragged out of that country’s embassy in London on April 12.

In addition to the $4.2 billion IMF loan, Ecuador’s compliance with the U.S. demand that Assange’s asylum status be revoked triggered the issuance of another $6 billion from other U.S.-dominated global aid funds such as the World Bank. That’s a total of $10.2 billion in cash to a country in desperate need of economic CPR.

The United States not only controls the largest share of the IMF, but pays for the bank’s overhead, a bill that amounts to over $164 billion annually.

Ironically, it was WikiLeaks that published a document penned by the Moreno administration listing some of the hoops through which Ecuador had to jump before the loan would be approved.

The information reported by WikiLeaks claimed that Ecuador’s “handing over Assange and dropping environmental claims against Chevron” were two of the prerequisites put in place by the Trump administration.

In a story covering the coincidental timing of the IMF loan and the surrender of Assange, MintPress recorded the other financial fetters loosened by Ecuador’s ending of Assange’s asylum:

It is also worth pointing out that Ecuador has been threatened with the financial might of the United States for much more minor issues than Assange’s status, despite its return to Washington’s “good graces” under Moreno’s leadership. For instance, last July, the U.S. threatened Ecuador with “punishing trade measures” if it introduced a measure at the UN that supported breastfeeding over infant formula — a stunning move that showed the international community the U.S.’ willingness to use “economic weapons,” even against allies. Ecuador, of course, immediately acquiesced under the threat of U.S. retribution.

As for the U.S. demand that the environmental case against Chevron be dropped, there is movement on that front, too. 

As reported by the UPI:

Ecuador will clean areas of its Amazon region that have been polluted during decades of work by Texaco and Petroecuador in a move criticized by activists who fear too little will be done.

After 26 years of legal actions in Ecuador, the United States, Canada and Europe that failed to result in any significant cleanup effort of areas affected by crude oil spills, Ecuadorean authorities announced a plan to spend $10 million to start cleaning up pollution and containing the damage, El Telegrafo reported.

"It is a request from the president [Lenin Moreno] that we remedy that," Energy Minister Carlos Perez recently said.

Chevron purchased Texaco in 2001.

An expansive and expertly written article published in 2016 by the Mises Institute explains the despotism and destruction that are the plan and practice of the IMF:

The IMF’s funds for loans are drawn from the expanded money supplies of its member countries on the basis of a contribution quota, and then redistributed to countries in need of financial or foreign exchange stabilization. The list of borrowers ranges from France in 1947 and Argentina (just before its 2001 crisis) to Ireland, Portugal, Ukraine, Colombia, Greece, and many others.

These loans promote an artificial and temporary type of global economic growth, because they do not have a neutral impact on the world economy. IMF loans endow some countries with additional purchasing power, thus allowing them to increase their command of resources and their wealth to the detriment of other countries. The latter’s resources and overall wealth are diminished by the depreciation of the monetary unit purported by every disbursement of the new money.

This global, inter-country redistribution of wealth is central to the conflicting relationships which arise around the allocation of IMF packages. Mises explained this to his students at FEE in the 1960s when he noted that the central problem is over who gets the money:

Everybody, every country, would say the same thing: “The quantity we got is too small for us.” The rich countries will say, “As the per head quota of money in our country is greater than it is in the poor countries, we must get a greater part.” The poor country will say, “No, on the contrary. Because they have already a greater part of money per head quota than we have, we must get the additional quantity of money.”

But, Mises observed, it’s impossible to distribute the money in a neutral way:

One can never increase the quantity … in such a way that it does not further the economic conditions of one group at the expense of other groups. This is, for instance, something that wasn’t realized in this great error — I don’t find a nice word to describe it — in starting the International Monetary Fund.

These conflicts are underlined by an even less acknowledged conflict at the national level — also predicated on the redistribution of wealth — which arises from the inflationary policies of national central banks. National central banks often cooperate with each other to, as Jörg Guido Hülsmann summarized,

“To coordinate central-bank policies, i.e. … to increase their note issues in concert, thus avoiding the embarrassment of the falling exchange rates that inevitably result from unilateral inflation.

On April 11, after his arrest in London, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Assange with computer hacking and has requested that the U.K. extradite Assange to the United States to be tried on that charge.

During his campaign for president, Donald Trump said that he “loved” WikiLeaks. Now, it seems he’s just not that into Assange.

"Look, clearly the president was making a joke during the 2016 campaign," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about Trump's past praise for WikiLeaks. "Certainly we take this serious.”

I’ll close with the following wisdom provided by Thomas Gordon, co-author of Cato’s Letters, one of the most influential books read by our Founding Fathers

Guilt only dreads liberty of speech, which drags it out of its lurking holes, and exposes its deformity and horror to day-light. Horatius, Valerius, Cincinnatus, and other virtuous and undesigning magistrates of the Roman commonwealth, had nothing to fear from liberty of speech. Their virtuous administration, the more it was examined, the more it brightened and gained by enquiry.

All ministers [elected leaders], therefore, who were oppressors, or intended to be oppressors, have been loud in their complaints against freedom of speech, and the licence of the press; and always restrained, or endeavoured to restrain, both. 

In consequence of this, they have brow-beaten writers, punished them violently, and against law, and burnt their works. By all which they showed how much truth alarmed them, and how much they were at enmity with truth.

Image of Julian Assange: Screenshot of a youtube video at The Weekly

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