Friday, September 23, 2011

Rafael Correa at New School

The appearance at my university today of Ecuadrian President Rafael Correa was great theatre...he gave a 40 minute speech on the Yasuní-ITT park, a  product of Ecuador's foregoing oil attracting in order to protect biodiversity....of course Correa said  how noble it was for Ecuador to forego  oil revenues, although he criticized people for criticizing his asking for compensation....Correa was assured, likable, charismatic (in a good sense, not in a bufofonish or malevolent sense). He gave a somewhat Clintonesque series of statistics about the flora and fauna in the park and claimed he was one of the few doing anything about global warming--which in light of the struggles of the current US and Australian admins in this regard was fairly stated. The real fireworks came afterwards when an elderly man stood up, let forth a stream of Spanish I could not get (I had foregone the translation device, but  generally understood Correa, even though he pronounced 'desarrollo" as 'desarrojjo" and Ollanta as "Ojjanta". indeed Correa, who got his PhD at Illinois, clearly had mastered the art of speaking Spanish to Anglophones) but then added a short rider in English that 'this is all choreographed"; he was escorted from the room, Another (i assume) Ecuadorian, either of Asian descent or nearly full blooded indigenous, stood up and asked about the freedom of the press, and Correa said he was for freedom of the press, was only protecting the press from capitalism. (Fox News and Obama is a crude, though not all that accurate comparison). A ruckus ensued and sever la people shouted out questions, Correa said he was sick of the topic and that people did not care about his "lucha contra calentamiento global' a phrase he repeated sever la times..,finally he said that it was the sort of pres she got that led Allende to be overthrow by Pinochet--there Correa got the crowd on his side.

He referred to the indigenous people in the park (Guarani, who he asked his audience to name, and several others)  as 'hermanos'; in English that would sound patronizing. He made no reference to his real brother, Fabricio, who has threatened to challenge him for the Presidency next year.

He struck me, both rhetorically and substantively, as one half Bill Cointon, another half somebody like Keith Olbermann, in that once his assurance broke down he seemed vulnerable and angry, resuming with difficulty the Clintonesque sheen.

As Correa, his entourage-including several members of the Ecuadorian cabinet. the Ecuadorian UN ambassador,  and also representatives from friendly countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina-left, it began to rain fiercely outside and there was a certain amount of panic to get him into the limo--odd I thought for the leader of a tropical country, they kind of acted like Saudi Arabians who had never seen rain.

1 comment:

Nicholas Birns said...
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