Erin N. Markley and Ambassador Todd Chapman
Erin is the Director of Public Relations and Culture for the US Department
of State at the Consul in Guayaquil
By Irene Gardner
Todd C. Chapman, the U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador since January 2016, visited Cuenca on Wednesday, May 7, to attend the 2nd Annual Governor’s Expat Humanitarian Awards held at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in what he stated was “a reflection of how U.S. Expats have become socially responsible here” in Ecuador.
He further stated that “the good works of people from the U.S. have made a very positive impact” in the relationship between the United States and Ecuador, noting that U.S. Expats in Cuenca have made an effort to “plant themselves in Cuenca and become Cuencanos themselves”.
Ambassador Chapman, who expects to be reassigned in June of this year, said he personally truly appreciates and can’t speak highly enough about those U.S. Expats who give of their time, resources and talents to help the communities and people of Ecuador, making a point to also say that his successor, to be named later this year, will be apprised of the many good works performed daily by U.S. Expats in Ecuador.
Further commenting on the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Ecuador, Ambassador Chapman stated “the U.S. has regained a positive relationship with Ecuador, with great improvements occurring since Presidents Trump and Moreno have been elected.” According to “Latinobarómetro”, an organization that polls Latin American countries on various topics, he says that Ecuador gives the United States a very high “favorability” rating of 84%, a dramatic increase since President Trump was elected.
In his remarks on other topics, the Ambassador confirmed that the United States remains Ecuador’s largest trading partner (not China, as many may think), primarily due to the diversity of the trade between the countries, and “although there is no formal Free Trade Agreement, there is a general understanding between the countries on a range of products that are duty-free”.
Ambassador Chapman also commented that U.S./Ecuador trade investments are progressing in a very positive direction, as reflected by “six specific and detailed working groups” that have recently been formed to include such trade topics as Agriculture, Intellectual Property and Investment Law. Per Ambassador Chapman, these focus groups are dedicated to “solving problems that would impact (i.e., hinder) an increase in trade” between the U.S. and Ecuador.
From an economic perspective, Ambassador Chapman, who has a background in commercial banking, stated that the U.S. voted in favor of the IMF loan to Ecuador, and now “the IMF has put Ecuador on a much more stable financial ground”, adding that Ecuador’s economy “dropped precipitously because Ecuador spends more money than it brings in, but the IMF loan increases certainty in and stabilizes Ecuador’s economy”. The IMF’s confidence in Ecuador also, per the Ambassador, has lead to an increase in more U.S. banks creating “correspondent” relationships with Ecuadorian banks.
As part of the terms of the IMF loan, Ecuador agreed to economic structural reforms in such areas as labor laws, handling of the fiscal deficit, and the fuel subsidy. Some have argued that the loan will have a negative impact on Ecuador’s sovereignty, but it is Ambassador Chapman’s firm belief that the loan does not dilute Ecuador’s sovereignty, because all loans carry commitments as part of their agreed terms.
“The IMF loan is a good deal for Ecuador,” stated the Ambassador, “It sets a positive roadmap against the excesses of the previous government.” His analogy of Ecuador’s previous government is: “It was like the guy [ex-President Correa] that ordered a steak, but stuck the next guy [President Moreno] with the bill. This government rights the wrongs of the previous administration.”
Ambassador Chapman pointed out that it is hard work and very difficult to pass laws on key issues, and the best that can be expected at this time is “to get part of the work done”, mentioning that “in the next 45 days, the [Ecuadorian] Vice President, [Otto Sonnenholzner], will be leading an effort to come up with solutions that will start Ecuador down the road” to create the new laws necessary to stabilize its spending.
On a final note, approximating that 90,000 to 100,000 people from the U.S. now live in Ecuador, Ambassador Chapman said “it is very difficult to calculate an actual number of U.S. Citizens now living in Ecuador”, since many U.S. immigrants to Ecuador are not only U.S. Citizens by birth, but also those Ecuadorians who emigrated to the U.S. and became U.S. citizens, and are now, with dual citizenship, returning to Ecuador”.
According to Ambassador Chapman, Ecuador has one of the largest groups of current travelers and emigrants to the United States, estimated to number approximately 500,000 Ecuadorians per year.
To read more about U.S. Consulates efforts in Cuenca, go to:
To learn about more ways in which you can become involved in helping Ecuadorians in Cuenca, Ambassador Chapman recommended contacting The Abraham Lincoln Center, which, as one example, helps lower-income Ecuadorian children learn English (https://www.abrahamlincolncenter.com).