Unemployment Drops Again in Ecuador

Source:  TeleSUR

Unemployment has dropped one percent since March 2014. 

Ecuadorean minister of labour congratulates trainees

Ecuadorean Minister of Labor Carlos Marx Carrasco congratulates those trained to install induction cooktops- teleSUR photo

Ecuadorean unemployment has continued to fall over the last year, latest figures show and now stands at 3.48 percent. The figures, show a one percent fall since March 2014.

Lowest unemployment rate in Latin America

Ecuador has one of the lowest unemployment rate in Latin America, which is just under 4 percent.

The government of the Citizen’s Revolution has focused on job creation and training for workers by putting humans over capital.

The role of the state

Minister of Labor Carlos Marx Carrasco said that state has been “designing public policies…to generate businesses, and quality work,” as well as “permanently working on training” to create a more skilled workforce.

The training of workers

The Ministry of Labor has also prioritized the training of workers to further stimulate national production. It has also worked to create jobs through agreements with national companies and investment in the private sector. In one such example, 8,000 workers of 13 provinces have received their certificates for the training they have undergone to install induction cooktops throughout the country.

Sponsored by the Ministry of Work, the national Electric Company and the Ecuadorean Service of Professional Training, these workers will now have steady employment.

Having recently been recognized as a certified technician of induction cooktops, Jose Urbano told teleSUR English, “Today the government is creating jobs through these efforts. They are teaching us how to perform this work to benefit the population and citizens. The Electric Company is valuing us by giving us stable jobs. We do not have to go out to find work. The only thing we need is to have all our documents complete, validated by the government, and then we can begin working with the Electric Company.”

Agriculture remains largest employer in Ecuador

Agriculture remains largest employer in Ecuador, with 28 percent of all workers employed in this sector. In rural areas, unemployment has dropped in the past year from 3.4 percent to about 1.9 percent.

Jose Agualsaca, the President of the Confederation of Indigenous-Campesino Organizations and Peoples of Ecuador told teleSUR that by providing support to agricultural workers and investing in the sector, the state is increasing production and enabling certain products for export. “There are important programs, for example to (support the production of) quinoa in the Ecuadorean highlands. This allows the state to really strengthen the sector, construct production centers, buy quinoa, and also facilitate production so that this product can be exported.”

Source:  Unemployment Drops Again in Ecuador  TeleSUR

Ecuadorean Medicine Experiences Success with DaVinci Robot

Source:  TeleSUR

The DaVinci Robot has reduced complications in hysterectomies from 13 percent to 1 percent.

davinci robotEcuador has become the second country in Latin America, after Mexico, to incorporate the technology of the DaVinci Robot in its public hospitals.

Controlled by surgeons working in a console of the operation room, the DaVinci Robot works with a 3-D camera, which amplifies images up to 10 times and has shown a reduction in patient recovery time.

The best thing the government could have done

At the Carlos Andrade Marin hospital, patients like Digna Paulina have obtained hysterectomies and other surgeries free of charge.

“Where was I supposed to get money to pay for this type of operation? So I think this is the best thing the government could have done, to get the robot for people like me who do not have a lot of money …

And it is very beneficial, for our health it is good, great,” said Escobar in an interview with teleSUR English.

The state has prioritized improving public services 

The total investment for the DaVinci is nearly US$4.5 million, representing a significant investment for the state which has prioritized improving public services under the Citizen’s Revolution.

Working to better serve the population, a conventional hysterectomy, which is the surgical removal of the uterus, has a 13 percent rate of complications. However, with the DaVinci Robot this percentage drops to 1 percent of patients.

A surgery of minimal intervention

Dr. Diego Hernandez, a gynecologist heading operations with the DaVinci Robot, told teleSUR English, “This is a surgery of minimal intervention. I can make incisions of 5 mm, of 8 mm, where the ports of the robot can enter, and through these ports I can make all the movements that I perform in an open surgery. This means that I do not have to make large incisions, I do not manipulate the intestine, there is not a long recuperation for the patient, and I have less complications. This is the benefit of the robot.”

While the robot is manufactured in the United States, Ecuadorean doctors will be training medical professionals to operate it in a variety of procedures. There are three surgeons who are currently trained and able to operate the DaVinci robot within the country, with six more to be certified by September, with training also opened to other specialties.

Source:  Ecuadorean Medicine Experiences Success with DaVinci Robot   TeleSUR

Ecuador Is a Successful Latin American Economy

Source:  TeleSUR

A leading U.S. economist talks with teleSUR about the economic achievements of Ecuador’s left-wing government.

ecuador is seeking to change its economy to higher value sectors

Ecuador is seeking to change its economy to higher value sectors

Rafael CorreaOne key success story of Ecuador’s Citizens’ Revolution has been the strong economic growth achieved despite President Rafael Correa coming to power on the eve of the global crisis, and the fact the country does not have its own currency, after adopting the U.S. dollar in 2000.

teleSUR spoke to economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Mark Weisbrot, in Washington, to discuss how this came about.

teleSUR: How would you describe the economic record of the Correa government over the past 8 years? “

Mark Weisbrot: The Ecuadorean government has done very well over the past eight years, despite experiencing some serious shocks, including the oil price collapse in 2008, and then the Global Recession of 2008-2009.

It did this despite its currency peg to the U.S. dollar, which meant that the government was severely limited in its use of monetary policy and could not use exchange rate policy at all in order to counter the downturn.

Gross domestic product growth per capita averaged 2.5 percent annually for 2007-2014, and (for the same period)  poverty was reduced by more than 30 percent (from 36.7 to 24.8 percent of the population).

Government revenues increased enormously

Public investment increased from 4.6 percent of GDP to 14.8 percent, boosted by increased tax revenues. Government revenues increased enormously from 24.1 percent of GDP in 2006 to 38.9 percent in 2014, thanks to much faster economic growth, the new taxes on the financial sector, a bigger take from foreign oil companies, and better collection of taxes owed.

Inequality was considerably reduced

Inequality was considerably reduced, with the ratio of the income of the richest decile and the poorest falling from 36 to 25. And the proportion of the urban labor force enrolled in the Social Security system increased from 26 to 67 percent.

teleSUR: Why has it experienced stronger growth than under previous governments?

MW: Under Correa, Ecuador broke with the neoliberal “Washington Consensus” policies that it had long pursued. Correa’s government regained control over the Central Bank and was able to bring down interest rates.

It increased the requirement for how much liquid assets banks are required to keep in Ecuador, from 45 percent to 60 percent. It instituted a tax on capital flight. The Central Bank was required to repatriate billions in assets held abroad. The government created a liquidity fund.

The government took a tougher line with banks and other private business

The government also took a tougher line with banks and other private business, with new restrictions preventing banks from owning media companies, and anti-trust enforcement, while at the same time promoting expansion of credit-unions, co-ops and other parts of the “popular and solidarity sector” of the financial system.

Expansionary fiscal policy was part of the solution, with a stimulus that amounted to nearly 5 percent of GDP beginning in 2009.

teleSUR: In which areas has Ecuador focused its public stimulus?

MW: Housing, health care, cash transfers and education have been key areas. There was a 50 percent increase in credit for housing, financed mainly through the Social Security Institute and including concessional mortgage lending, which targeted low-income groups who might otherwise not have been able to afford to buy a home.

The government expanded its main cash transfer program, the Bono de Desarrollo Humano, by nearly one-fourth, through outreach to eligible families who were not already enrolled.

The Correa administration doubled spending on health care

In its first few years, the Correa administration doubled spending on health care, as compared to past levels, to 3.5 percent of GDP (about US$1.8 billion). This included spending on free health care programs, which was expanded, especially for children and pregnant women.

Spending on education also increased, with school fees eliminated, a free breakfast program expanded, and the government providing school children with free textbooks, school materials and uniforms.

teleSUR: How important was the cancellation of its international debt in improving Ecuador’s economic performance?

MW: The international commission that was convened in 2007 to examine Ecuador’s debt found that US$3.2 billion – about one-third of the country’s foreign debt – was illegally or illegitimately contracted.

The government stopped payment on the debt the month after the commission announced its findings, and then defaulted, buying up the defaulted bonds for about 35 cents on the dollar. The country had little to lose since it could hardly borrow on international markets at the time. Still it was unusual, and perhaps unprecedented, to see such a “default of choice,” as the government’s debt service at the time was just 1.5 percent of GDP.

Its debt service (interest payments on the public debt) remained at a low 1.3 percent of GDP in 2013. The debt audit and subsequent default and buy-back was important in both the short and long term. In the short term, it wiped off a third of the country’s foreign debt and much of its debt service at a huge discount, reducing its foreign debt obligations to 17 percent of GDP. It also helped to convince foreign investors that Ecuador’s ability to repay its non-defaulted debt had increased.

Source:  US Economist: Ecuador Is a Successful Latin American Economy  TeleSUR

READ MORE: teleSUR Agenda on the Ecuador’s Citizens’ Revolution

Venezuela to Vaccinate 4 Million against Killer Illnesses

Source:  TeleSUR
April 26 2015

Venezuela kicked off a campaign Sunday to vaccinate 3.8 million residents by May 31.

venezuela to vaccinate 4 millionHouse to house visits

The project, carried out by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), will provide 800,000 doses more than last year. Medical workers will carry out house-to-house visits in difficult-to-access poor communities and indigenous areas, to ensure that children and families in those zones are protected against 14 illnesses as part of an immunization scheme.

Children between one and nine years of age

The emphasis in the project is on children between one and nine years of age, as well as the elderly, and will include vaccines against tuberculosis, hepatitis B, and meningitis.

As well as the house calls, the organization has set up 5,957 immunization points, where children, young people and the elderly can be seen free of charge, and where information will also be provided about staying healthy.

An estimated one in five children around the world is not vaccinated. In 2013, 21.8 million babies did not receive life-saving vaccinations, according to PAHO.

Source:  Venezuela to Vaccinate 4 Million Against Killer Illnesses  TeleSUR

South African students at Rhodes University demand name change

Sign the campaign! Rhodes University must change its name

Members of the Black Students Movement at Rhodes University called for the university to change it’s name, questioning the decision to uphold colonial oppression and injustice for the sake of a ‘brand’. This protest was arranged by Rhodes students to show solidarity with UCT students last week who called for a statue of Cecil John Rhodes to be removed from their campus #RhodesMustFall.

If we are truly committed to transformation and undoing the injustices of the past at Rhodes University, we should honour Makana struggle heroes, not the so-called ‘founder’ of the southern African territory of Rhodesia.

With the current wave of student activism demanding the removal of UCT’s Cecil John Rhodes statue, we must act now to turn this momentum into tangible change.

Let’s support Rhodes students and alumni in their call to change the name of Rhodes University

Let’s support Rhodes students and alumni in their call to change the name of Rhodes University. Removing Rhodes statues and his name from our nation’s universities is only the start, as Rhodes student, Lihle Ngocobozi, creator the #RhodesSoWhite conversation, puts it:

“…the challenging of the presence of historical artifacts of colonial violence should not be reduced to a removal of a statue, or the changing of the name of Rhodes University, or a social media campaigns. These are all entry points into broader conceptions of transformation and black students laying claim to space and the right for their space to be reflective of a transforming institution.” [1]

Rhodes Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, is under public pressure and admitted yesterday in a radio 702 interview that “[t]here is no process underway [to change the name of the university] at the moment.”

Together we can

Together we can demand Rhodes University follows UCT’s lead and put in place a formal public consultation process and a commitment to change the name of the university.

[1] Rhodes So White, by Lihle Ngocobozi for Oppidan Press.

[2] Rhodes VC says university’s brand is separate to that of Cecil John Rhodes, Aaisha Dadi Patel for the Daily Vox.

Dear Vice-Chancellor Dr Mabizela,

We, the undersigned Rhodes University alumni, students and members of the public, call on you to initiate a process to change the name of Rhodes University. Changing the name of Rhodes does not sweep our history under the carpet; if anything, not changing the name perpetuates the past. We welcome your openness to discussion on this issue, but we ask that you commit to a formal consultation process to change the name of the university. We ask that this process also engage the broader Makana Municipality and that local struggle heroes are considered in the renaming of the institution. You may have concerns that renaming the university will be costly and that some donors may decide not to support the institution, but many of us are committed to the university’s future and to real transformation. You will therefore have our full support. This campaign is about coming to terms with our history and moving forward. We hope you will join us in being on the right side of history.

Together for justice,

Estelle Prinsloo, Mpho Moshe Matheolane, Danielle Bowler, Ayesha Omar, Benjamin Fogel, Ines Schumacher, Romi Reinecke, Claire Waterhouse, Niren Tolsi and Nina Butler.

Present students, alumni and members of the public sign here

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Demands for real change have to be heard …South African student leader Chumani Maxwele

Meet Chumani Maxwele, the student activist who spread excrement on the Rhodes statue, demonstrating against the legacy of Rhodes’ racism at the University

Chumani MaxweleChumani Maxwele is an astute young man. He knew exactly the weight of the payload he was carrying. He does not do things lightly. As a fourth year political science student at the University of Cape Town he reels off historical facts and context with ease. He recounts the problems Pallo Jordan’s father, the intellectual pioneer A C Jordan, had in the Sixties at UCT. The very institution he now seeks to change. He tells us about the challenges Professor Noel Chabani Manganyi faced during his career in more recent times.

Time to reflect the pain of our generation

“We acknowledge our parents’ achievements fighting against apartheid but we are saying now it is about time for us to reflect on our pain, our suffering collectively,” he says.

He tells his story with such vigour that it’s hard to find breathing spaces where we can slip in the questions. Then we make two mistakes. First we ask about his personal background. In the age-old tradition of the left he tells us this is not a story about any individual. He says he does not want to talk about himself.  But we persist and learn that his mother is a domestic worker and that his father died on the mines.

A black executive defending a white London –based company

Before the symbolic shit hit the colonial fan recently at the University of Cape Town, he attended a public talk. Lonmin sent a black executive to address the students on the Marikana massacre.

“The whole house was white. I was so upset. How can a black executive from Lonmin come and defend a white, London-based company. I made my views heard and guess what. The chairman was a very apologetic black academic. He threatened to call the security.

That kaffir who disturbed our talk

“Two weeks later I was in the library. A white student came to me and said, ‘Are you that kaffir who disturbed our talk’. I wanted to engage with him but the insult made me report it to UCT. It has taken them eight months and they have still not finalised the investigation. Every day we face two kinds of racism. Personal and institutional racism.”

Passion not anger

Another mistake we made talking with Chumani Maxwele, was asking him about the root of the ‘anger’ of the students. He objected strongly to the choice of word.

“Anger equates to irrational and emotional in the white world. So when black people do something it is not seen as rational or intellectual. I would not describe it as anger but passion. We are very passionate.”

An opportunity to interrogate the ills of society

And then a small surprise. He says he and his fellow students love UCT.  “This is our university. We love UCT because it provides education for our people. It brings a sense of hope to us as black students. It gives us an opportunity to interrogate the ills of society. That’s what we love about it. It gives us an opportunity to get young black intellectuals, young black critical thinkers together… to interrogate South Africa’s problems.”

Demands for real change have to be heard

He praises the efforts of the Vice Chancellor Dr Max Price whom he says “put the race debate at the centre of UCT”.

And now that he has put the crap we are trying to hide behind a middle-class façade of dignity firmly on the table, what next? Of course the statue has to go, names have to change – starting with Jameson Hall probably – and demands for real change have to be heard.

Amilcar Cabral, James Baldwin, Franz Fanon and our parents

Chumani Maxwele mentions thinkers that have had a deep influence on him. African intellectual Amilcar Cabral, writer James “Go Tell It On the Mountain” Baldwin, Frantz “Black Skin White Masks” Fanon and others. But he says that South African as well as African universities should acknowledge the role parents like his played in our intellectual development.

“Many people like my parents contributed to my outlook but not in the European sense that you must have a certificate. We are still waiting for universities to give honorary degrees to our parents who know the history of our people. They can tell you the clan system and how a village evolved over time. But they did not go to Eurocentric schools and in South Africa today these people are not acknowledged as intellectuals. That is a problem.”

Unpalatable truths now in the open

It is no accident that Maxwele chose Human Rights month as the time to infuse new life into the transformation debate. His actions and the subsequent student protests have unleashed a wave of debate, anger, support and soul searching. It has forced us all to confront the tardy nature of transformation and the darkness behind dealing with painful histories.  The students have forced many unpalatable truths out into the open.

Protests are not only about statues

Writing in the regularly Monday Bulletin this week Professor Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice Chancellor at the University of the Free State mentions the problematic historic figures whose names litter his and other campuses. He says: “Rhodes, Malan and Hertzog are divisive campus figures who remind black students of their oppression then and their alienation now. But university leaders make a strategic mistake to think these protests are simply about statues. They are about a deeper transformation of universities – including the complexion of the professoriate – that remains largely unchanged. For bringing these matters to urgent public attention, we owe the UCT students a debt of gratitude.”

Source:  We Love UCT Says Student who covered Rhodes in shit  The Journalist

The Rhodes Statue Falls: A step in the right direction

Cecil Rhodes was a racist imperialist who thought of whites as the “master race.”

“Rhodes Must Fall” campaign successful

rhodes statue removed 1The University of Cape Town in South Africa removed the statue of Cecil Rhodes, a white supremacist colonialist, in response to the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign which began in March.

rhodes must fall student proteest 1Protesters cheered as the Rhodes statue was taken down Thursday. The university said that the statue will be stored for “safe keeping.”

The university voted Wednesday to remove the statue. The council said it had asked students, staff and alumni before coming to its decision. “This is exactly how a university should work and we believe it is an example to the country in dealing with heritage issues,” it said.

The “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign began last month when Chumani Maxwele, an activist, spread excrement on the Rhodes statue, demonstrating against the legacy of Rhodes’ racism at the University.

An exploiter of African labor who stole land from indigenous people

The protesters’ campaign have said over the past month that Rhodes was a man “who exploited Black labor and stole land from indigenous people.”

Adekeye AdebajoAdekeye Adebajo, executive director of South Africa’s Centre for Conflict Resolution, said that the protesters’ call to get rid of the statue is “a metaphorical call for the transformation of the university’s curriculum, culture and faculty, which many blacks feel are alienating and still reflect a Eurocentric heritage.”

Rhodes founded the De Beers diamond company which still controls the global diamond trade. As a political leader in southern Africa, he worked to change voting and land ownership laws to disenfranchise Blacks and referred to the whites as the “master race.”

Rhodes:  The more of the world the white race inhabits, the better

He said, “I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race.”

South Africa has some of the largest disparities in wealth between Blacks and whites in the world.

“Why should we not form a secret society with but one object?” Rhodes once said. “The furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, for making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire?”

A step in the direction of toppling neocolonialism and imperialism

The fall of the statue of the racist exploiter should be seen  as one step in the direction of toppling neocolonialism and imperialism in South Africa.