Secretary Clinton worked to repair relations with Ecuador yesterday, and her “charm offensive had an impact,” as the Washington Post put it.
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa — who once said Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s comparison of George W. Bush to Satan was offensive to the devil — referred to Clinton as “dearest Hillary.” He spoke favorably of the United States, saying, as reported by Agence France-Press:
“[W]e are not anti-American. We love the U.S. very much. It is a trade partner. In fact, I spent the happiest four years of my life with my family in that great country.”
(Those four years were when he was earning a master’s degree and a doctorate at the University of Illinois.) He also said:
“The new left that I represent is not anti-anything.… We are not anti-capitalist. We are not anti-American. We are not anti-imperialist. We are pro-dignity, pro-sovereignty, pro-social justice, pro-good life for our people. We are in favor of the good things.”
How did Clinton “charm” Correa? Well, first, she wasn’t George W. Bush; Correa said he esteemed both her and her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and he said Latin Americans “loved” Barack Obama. But Clinton’s conciliatory remarks and attempts to reassure Correa on tense issues helped, too. Clinton said:
“Now, like any two countries, we will not always agree. But we are committed to a partnership of open dialogue and cooperation that is rooted in mutual respect and mutual interest and for the benefit of both of our peoples.”
Clinton sought to reassure Ecuador on the U.S. military’s use of bases in Colombia to help that country fight the internal problems of the FARC insurgency and drug trafficking. Ecuador thinks the U.S. military presence threatens Latin American sovereignty by extending U.S. power and might even include espionage. Clinton said:
“I want to put your mind at ease that these, this agreement between the United States and Colombia is solely intended to assist Colombia in its continuing efforts against its internal threats.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether all this sweet talk will actually produce results when it comes to policy decisions, but at least Clinton seems to be undoing a lot of the damage from the Bush administration.