University of Illinois Alums Honor Ecuadoran Crook

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa

When I read John Bambenek’s story about Rafael Correa published Sunday at, I was disgusted, disappointed and slightly disheartened, but not at all surprised.  After all, it was the alumni association at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that honored their alum-turned corrupt Ecuadoran president with the 2009 Madhuri and Jagdish Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement.

As reported by Bambenek, the award went to a man with a long list of “accomplishments,” including the following:


Something Bambenek left out of his article, however, was the long list of black-eyed accomplishments President Correa has compiled related to the $27 billion, 17-year-old lawsuit being waged against Chevron Corporation in Ecuador.  I began tracking them almost two years — or 13 posts — ago.

In a post published May 27, 2009, I shared my first mention of the man’s corrupt tendencies:

I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on television, but it strikes me that leaders of the Amazon Defense Coalition may have violated terms of the Logan Act as they cozied up to leaders of the Ecuadoran government in zealous pursuit of a $27 billion judgment against Chevron Corporation.

Later in the same post, I pointed to the May 21, 2009, edition of The Economist in which the magazine’s editors described the complicity that exists between the plaintiffs (ADC) and the government of Ecuador’s leftist president:

The judge in Lago Agrio, Juan Nuñez, is expected to rule on the case later this year. He has made no secret of his sympathy for the plaintiffs. The lawsuit appears to have the backing of Mr Correa’s government. Last year it objected to the 1998 agreement with Texaco, arguing that since the company was the operator of the field it should have cleaned up all of the pits. The attorney-general charged seven former senior officials who had signed the agreement with fraud, as well as two Ecuadorean lawyers for Chevron.

In a post three weeks later, I pointed readers to a letter to the editor (“Ecuador’s Attack on Foreign Companies“) published in the Washington Post May 5.  It was written by Sylvia Santa Cruz, a Warren Brookes Journalism Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and writer-editor for the Ecuador Mining News web site.  She had nothing good to say about Correa’s influence on the lawsuit:

“Chevron is correct to argue that it won’t be treated fairly as long as Mr. Correa runs Ecuador.”

One month after that, I reported about a meeting meeting that, much to my surprise, ADC officials never denied took place:

Less than 24 hours after President Barack Obama extended Ecuador’s trade benefits for six months and, according to U.S. business groups cited in a Reuter’s report, “put Ecuador on notice that it could lose valuable U.S. trade benefits unless the Andean country improves its treatment of foreign investors,” word arrived from Ecuador that three key individuals representing the Amazon Defense Coalition in its $27 billion lawsuit against Chevron Corporation were meeting with Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa.

On five more occasions since, I’ve reported on the kangaroo-court lawsuit involving Chevron and on President Correa’s shady involvement in it.  The most recent came two weeks ago after Chevron won an arbitration claim against Ecuador.

A tribunal administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague found that Ecuador’s courts violated international law through their delays in ruling on certain commercial disputes between Texaco Petroleum Company and the Ecuadorian government now headed by President Correa.  As a result, the Tribunal ordered the government of Ecuador to pay Chevron $700,000 in damages.

President Correa’s response one day later, according to Business Week, was to reject the international arbitration tribunal’s ruling that it violated international law.

Who knows, next year they might nominate President Barack Obama for his work on the economy.  And health care.  And college basketball.  And Afghanistan.  And…