Blinken quotes "democratic judgment" in South America

QUITO, Ecuador – When Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday described democracies where leaders threatened opponents, attack...


QUITO, Ecuador – When Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday described democracies where leaders threatened opponents, attacked the media, or undermined legal systems, he could have spoken of any number of nations in the world. ‘western hemisphere: Brazil, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Even the United States.

In this case, Mr. Blinken was talking about past administrations in Ecuador, citing the country’s transition to authoritarian rule as proof that open governments can provide lasting stability and economic opportunity. His speech, delivered at a leading Ecuadorian university that has been at the center of dueling US and Chinese influence campaigns, comes at a time when confidence in democracy is eroding and the incidence of oppression in America is growing. Latin.

It was also handed over just two days after Ecuador’s new ruler, President Guillermo Lasso, imposed a emergency state which limits movement and restricts gatherings; this was done, the government said, to counter an increase in violent crime and drug trafficking.

“We are in a moment of democratic settlement,” Blinken told the University of San Francisco in Quito. The school is home to the Confucius Institute, which has been accused of promoting Chinese government propaganda, and is in its second year of US funding to investigate and counter disinformation efforts.

“For all of us who believe in democracy and believe that its survival is vital to our common future, the question is: what can we do to make democracies address the issues that matter most to our people? Mr Blinken said.

Mr Blinken said he had been assured by Mr Lasso, during meetings in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, that the emergency decree would focus on crime and be of limited duration.

But Mr Blinken said democracies must step up efforts to fight corruption and crime that rely not only on security forces but also on broader social and economic enterprises. To demonstrate the value of democracy, said Blinken, governments must embrace longer-term principles such as ensuring fair labor standards and giving more people access to education and health care.

He did not provide details on how this could be done. He also failed to recognize that the billions of dollars the United States has spent in the region have been accompanied in recent years by a rise in populism which in some cases has led to strong leaders.

Mr. Blinken acknowledged that the United States has a “mixed” record in helping the region improve security. His appearance hours later in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, with President Iván Duque exposed the struggles in relations with allies who may not meet American democratic standards.

Mr Duque has sought to wipe a stain on his government as a result of deadly protests earlier this year, when state security forces opened fire on protests against poverty and inequality in Colombia. Mr Duque said he had “zero tolerance” for police brutality or human rights violations – a claim he repeated on Wednesday – and said he was engaged in training and others reforms.

But President Biden did not meet Mr. Duque during the Colombian leader’s two trips to the United States this fall, signaling American unease over the fallout.

Investigations into the violent crackdown on protesters are continuing, Duque said on Wednesday, and “we expect to see severe punishment if it is proven that there is behavior committed by members of the force,” did he declare.

He also said protesters who attacked security forces or vandalized property during the protests would be held to account. “Human rights are for everyone,” Duque said at a press conference with Blinken in Bogotá.

Mr Blinken said he and Mr Duque agreed that those who attacked protesters, journalists and other human rights defenders should be held accountable. But with the United States also relying on Colombia’s help with climate change, migration and the political quagmire in neighboring Venezuela, Blinken’s criticisms went no further.

“We have no better ally on all the issues facing our democracies in this hemisphere,” said Blinken.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Blinken quotes "democratic judgment" in South America
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