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    Alianza PAIS's presidential candidate Lenin Moreno, left, and his running mate Jorge Glas smile end of the day of the presidential election, in Quito, Ecuador, Sunday, April 2, 2017. Ecuador went to the polls in a second round presidential elections.

    Pompeo Salutes Ecuador on National Day, Lauds "Bond" Between Countries

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    US officials have extended warm overtures to Ecuador as the country celebrates its Independence Day. However, recent developments between the Quito and Washington belie any real substance in these celebration as Ecuador enters a dark new chapter in its political history.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a public statement Thursday to recently elected Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno to commemorate his country's National Day celebrations.  

    "I extend congratulations to the people of Ecuador on the anniversary of the first call to independence on August 10, 1809, which sparked [its] movement in Latin America 209 years ago," read the statement. "Since we established bilateral relations, our nations have enjoyed deep ties, which are growing stronger every day." 

    "The United States is committed to working with the Ecuadorian people and their government to expand bilateral trade and investment, strengthen security cooperation, and increase cultural and educational exchanges," it continued. "We welcome the opportunity to work with President Lenin Moreno and his administration to build a stronger bilateral relationship in areas of mutual interest." 

    The growing bromance between the two countries follows developments earlier this summer, where US vice president Mike Pence telephoned Moreno following a General Assembly meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), a White House statement said June 4. 

    The two officials discussed "the on-going humanitarian and economic disaster in Venezuela, and the need to work together with like-minded nations to protect and promote freedom in the hemisphere," the statement mentioned. 

    The two also issued a joint statement at the Palacio Carondelet June 28, reiterating their affinity for each other and mentioning the word "freedom" 14 times.  

    "[Our] two nations declared our independence only 33 years apart, and ever since we have been a part of the history of this hemisphere of freedom," Pence remarked. 

    "Freedom was always the foundation of the friendship between the United States and Ecuador, and today we are renewing that bond," he stressed. 

    Since VP Pence's visit to Quito, the US State Department has been feverishly bargaining with Ecuadorian leadership to isolate Venezuela. Venezuela and Ecuador are both members of the Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and used oil rents to fund public programs and subsidies.

    "One specific threat to our collective security [is] the ongoing collapse of Venezuela into dictatorship, deprivation and despair," Pence told reporters at the news conference with Moreno as quoted by Reuters. "We respectfully urge Ecuador and all of our allies across the region to take steps to further isolate the Maduro regime."  

    Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro survived an assassination attempt August 5 in which explosive drones were used during his televised national address. Maduro holds the US and right-wing Colombian politicians responsible.

    Secretary of State Pompeo tweeted Wednesday the same rhetoric, stating that he wanted America's "allies and partners" to join forces against Iran-another OPEC member.  

    Doing so allows the US to influence global oil production rates, which US president Donald Trump complained about on July 4, where he tweeted that "[the] OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help."  

    Influencing Ecuador allows the US to place pressure on Venezuela, who possesses the world largest proven oil reserves amongst OPEC members (24.9% or 302.8 billion barrels) as of 2017, followed by Saudi Arabia (21.9%/ 266.2 bb), Iran (12.8%/ 155.6 bb), and Iraq (12.1%/ 147.2 bb). 

    Moreno began distancing himself from his predecessor, former president Rafael Correa, after he took office in May 2017 and proposed a referendum barring future presidents from unlimited terms. Both are members of Ecuador's Country Alliance party, BBC reported. 

    Moreno then began a rapprochement with the US and enacting neoliberal reforms, including the business-friendly "Organic Law For Productive Promotion [and] Investments Attraction", ending Ecuador's Pink Tide revolution era. 

    READ MORE: Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum For Assange — Reports 

    Furthermore, the growing rapprochement between Moreno and Pompeo indicates their commitment to evicting Wikileaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012.  

    "Ecuador has been looking for a solution to this problem. The refuge is not forever, you cannot expect it to last for years," Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia stated. 

    Assange remains there due to fears that the UK will extradite him to the US to stand trial for espionage after leaking thousands of classified documents. 

    The Times disclosed that the UK and Ecuadorian authorities were in ‘secret talks' to remove Assange from the embassy, prompting a media frenzy on the whistleblower's asylum rights. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) ruled in Assange's favour early February 2016 and demanded that the UK and Sweden let him go and offer compensation.

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    Tags:
    Independence Day, OPEC, U.S. Department of State, Lenin Moreno, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Nicolas Maduro, United States, Ecuador, Venezuela
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