The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is shutting down operations in Ecuador today (Sept. 30) after 53 years of activity in that country.

Last December, the Ecuadorean government announced that cooperation with USAID would be frozen until a new bilateral agreement could be signed. At the time, President Rafael Correa said that his country would be “nobody’s colony” and stated that Ecuador no longer needed the type of cooperation offered by the U.S. organization.

The USAID programs were no longer welcome in Ecuador, Correa said in a televised appearance in December, adding that “we don’t need charity.”ecuador-usaid-1

Relations between the U.S. and Ecuador have been tense since Correa assumed power in 2007. In 2009, Ecuador expelled two U.S. Embassy officials, accusing them of interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

Later, Ecuador ordered the Embassy’s military contingent (about 20 Defense Department employees) to leave the country by April. The anti-drug unit will leave today.

Correa has been critical of the United States’ — specifically USAID’s — activities in Cuba, designed to undermine the government of President Raúl Castro. (For the many articles on this topic in Progreso Weekly, go to the top of this page and SEARCH for ‘CUBA’ and ‘USAID.’)

An embassy spokesman said in May that the U.S. had worked with Ecuador for decades to deliver “more than $800 million in development aid that had enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ecuadoreans.” The USAID budget for Ecuador in 2013 was $15 million, according to the spokesman.

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