Since President Rafael Correa came to power seven years ago, U.S. relations with Ecuador have been rocky. Most recently, in December 2013, the U.S. Agency for International Development decided to pull out of Ecuador in 2014 after the agency failed to reach an agreement with Quito over continued support of democracy promotion efforts, which the Correa administration regards as targeting the government. Just days later, the Correa government reacted angrily to a Washington Post report alleging that the CIA had offered crucial assistance to Colombia in a 2008 strike against FARC rebels in Ecuadorean territory; the U.S. had denied any involvement at the time.
It is ironic that Correa, who has a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois and presides over the only dollarized economy in South America, has such an antagonistic relationship with the United States. Also paradoxically, despite myriad problems, the U.S. remains Ecuador’s chief trading partner.
Re-elected twice, Correa has a dubious commitment to liberal democracy, but his popularity is beyond dispute—among the highest in Latin America. The stability he has brought is no small feat. In the decade before he came to power, Ecuador had 10 presidents.