July 25, 2008
The "constituent assembly" convened by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has approved the draft constitution that aims to replace the entire political establishment and give more power to the executive branch. The president would be able to run for consecutive terms, which is currently prohibited, and he would make decisions on economic policy that are currently handled by the central bank, which is independent. The vote was 94 to 36. A referendum will be held later this year, but if the newspapers and broadcast media remain under state control (Correa ordered a takeover last week), the voters won't have all the information they need to make an intelligent decision. See BBC. The slide toward despotism in Ecuador continues unabated, with little apparent outcry by the opposition. Very sad and very strange.
The Colombian rebel group FARC has released eight of ten hostages who had been seized recently. This would seem to indicate that they are on the defensive in the public relations war ever since the dramatic rescue operation early this month, and needed to make a good will gesture, but they are expected to demand ransom for the other two hostages. One of the freed hostages seems to have a more sympathetic view of FARC, a manifestation of the "Stockholm syndrome." The International Red Cross served as an intermediary in this release. Seven hundred people remain imprisoned by FARC. See BBC.