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Updates: 08/03/2021

Published on August 03, 2021

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Update to: Cannabis in Ecuador: Industry and opportunity
Published: Volume 5, Issue 41
Ecuador’s flower industry shifts toward hemp as rose sales wither

At one of Ecuador’s oldest flower farms, workers are planting hemp on land that was traditionally used for roses, making a bet that selling cannabinoid products will help offset the decline in flower sales caused by the pandemic.

Declining sales spurred by the coronavirus outbreak dealt a heavy blow to Ecuador’s flower sector, one of the Andean nation’s traditional export industries, leaving farms cutting output or seeking to reinvent themselves.

The Boutique Flowers farm in Tabacundo, an hour north of the capital Quito, has built cannabis greenhouses to take advantage of recent legal reforms that allow for cultivation of the plant – even though marijuana remains illegal.

Marijuana contains higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the cannabinoid that causes a high – than hemp. Ecuadorean law requires that cannabis have less than 1% THC.

“The project was born from hard times,” said Klaus Graetzer, Boutique Flowers floriculture manager and president of hemp startup CannAndes.

“In the pandemic, the flower industry was hit hard. We saw the chance to take advantage of this new regulation.”

His 30-hectare (74-acre) farm slashed rose production by 37.5% to 15 million stems during 2020 due to a drop in orders from the United States, Europe and Russia, its main markets.

Ecuador’s total flower exports fell 8% last year, according to flower producer and export association Expoflores.

Cannabis plants are increasingly cultivated globally for the extraction of cannabinoid, which is being researched for various medical applications and has found increased use as a relaxant.

But CannAndes sees the greatest potential in the niche business of hemp flowers, which can be smoked as a palliative for conditions such as nausea or anxiety.

Hemp flowers do not have psychotropic effects and can be produced with much of the flower industry’s traditional infrastructure. CBD oils, in contrast, require industrial machinery to separate oil from plant material.

“The idea is to get to export smokable CBD flowers to Switzerland: that’s the biggest market for this flower,” said CannAndes manager Felipe Norton. “Given the experience we have with flowers, it’s a good opportunity.”

CannAndes plans to start its export in the next two years, and it is seeking licenses from Ecuadorean authorities to sell CBD products such as creams for body care as well as teas and edible oils for chocolates and sweets.

Ecuador’s flower industry leaders remain skeptical of hemp because the value of the associated products swing sharply with shifts in consumer fads and government regulatory decisions, said Expoflores president Alejandro Martinez.

Ecuador in late 2019 legalized the imports of hemp seeds, as well as the production, marketing and export of hemp. The Agriculture Ministry has approved 46 ten-year licenses for various phases of hemp development.

“We have the climate and soil conditions to do the cultivation, but it will be the demand that will dictate the level of supply,” said Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Productive Development Ney Barrionuevo. “For now, it is incipient.”


Update to: Ecuador signs an agreement to rejoin the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
Published: Volume 5, Issue 38
Ecuador’s Constitutional Court Rules in Favor of Ratification of the ICSID Convention

On January 15, 1986, Ecuador signed the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States (ICSID Convention). During President Rafael Correa´s administration (2007-2017), President Correa publicly expressed his hostility towards the ICSID Convention and the international investment protection system. In 2008, Ecuador denounced over a third of its bilateral investment treaties (BITs). Later in 2009, President Correa issued Executive Decree Nº 1823 denouncing the ICSID Convention, terminating its application to Ecuador.

In the 2021 presidential elections, Guillermo Lasso, a former banker, was elected as the President of Ecuador. President Lasso has vowed to attract foreign investment and break away from the leftist policies adopted during the former administration. On 21 June 2021, Ecuador´s Ambassador to the United States, Ivonne Baki, signed the ICSID Convention.

Pursuant to articles 147 and 418 of Ecuador’s Constitution, the President has the power to sign and ratify international treaties. After signing a treaty, the President has the obligation to notify the National Assembly in the following 10 days before he can ratify it. Soon after the signature of the Convention, there was an ongoing discussion as to whether ratification of the ICSID Convention required the prior approval of the National Assembly pursuant to article 419 of the Constitution.

Last Friday, June 30th, the Constitutional Court ruled that the National Assembly did not need to approve the ratification, and therefore, the President can sign and ratify ICSID directly, under the condition that he notifies the National Assembly 10 days prior its ratification. President Lasso ratified the ICSID Convention on July 16, 2021, through the issuance executive Decree No. 122.


Update to: Thirteen Ecuadorians have disappeared in their attempt to reach the United States so far this year
Published: Volume 5, Issue 41
Ecuadorian who sought sanctuary from deportation in a US church receives temporary reprieve

Supporters of Nelson Pinos, an Ecuadorian immigrant who first sought sanctuary from a federal deportation order in a New Haven church in 2017, are celebrating his temporary reprieve.

The father of three, who has lived in the U.S. for 29 years, learned this week that immigration authorities have granted him a one-year stay and supporters said Saturday he has left the church for now.

At the celebration Saturday, supporters of Pinos, 47, vowed to make sure he gets to remain here permanently, noting the fight for his freedom and the freedom of other immigrants without legal status is far from over.

“Today, we are not only celebrating a temporary stay, but we’re sending a loud message about a broken process,” said Miguel Castro, chairman of the Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus.

“This is the time to fix it and fix it good so families like Nelson and his wife and his children and many like him will never, ever go through something like this ever again.”

Organizers of Saturday’s event said Pinos is the last of the sanctuary seekers in Connecticut to be given a stay of deportation.

Pinos could not attend Saturday’s celebration because he was quarantining after being exposed to someone infected with COVID-19. But he thanked the crowd by cell phone. Many who turned out have supported Pinos and his family over the years at various protests and actions. In 2018, dozens of demonstrators blocked the entrance to a federal court building with some chaining themselves to one another or to barrels filled with sand to draw attention to his case.

Pinos said he was grateful for their help and was “very happy” to have met them.

“I just want to say that this is not an end, and we still have a long way to go. And we hope that at the end, it’s going to be the best for me,” he said, receiving loud cheers from the crowd.

Pinos was 19 years old when he was arrested in Minneapolis in the 1990s and first ordered deported from the U.S. One of his lawyers, however, said Pinos was not aware of the order until 2012.

Pinos eventually moved to New Haven, bought a home, paid income taxes for at least 18 years and worked as a machine setup operator for the same factory for 15 years. He regularly reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who told him he was not a priority for deportation, according to his supporters.

ICE has said previously that a federal immigration judge issued Pinos a final order of removal in 2015. But ICE did not take him into custody at that time and instead allowed him to periodically report to an ICE office after previously providing proof that he intended to comply with the order, according to an earlier statement from the agency.

But in October 2017, ICE fitted Pinos with an ankle monitor and told him he had to leave the U.S., prompting him to seek refuge in the church. He was then declared an immigration fugitive. Seeking sanctuary at a site categorized by ICE as a sensitive location may delay “but does not void” ICE’s authority to enforce a removal order, the agency said at the time.

But this week, acting on an appeal filed in late June from Pinos’s lawyers, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, granted the stay of deportation, giving his attorneys time to work on another motion to reopen his case. Pinos’ lawyers have credited the action to a shift in policy under Democratic President Joe Biden.

In a statement, a spokesperson for ICE said Friday, “After a thorough review of Pinos’s case, it was determined that a stay of removal was warranted and therefore granted. All stays of removal are at the discretion of the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office Director on a case-by-case basis.”

Glenn Formica, a lawyer for Pinos, said in order to win the right to stay in the U.S. permanently, his client now needs Congress to change a 1996 law. Under the law, Pinos would have to return to his native Ecuador for 10 years before he can return and get a permanent resident card or green card.

“So, finishing this race with Nelson, we need to be mindful that the next race for Nelson is a marathon, but it’s a marathon we’re all going to finish,” Formica said. “It’s been 20 years since there’s been comprehensive immigration reform. We’re not waiting a decade. We’re not waiting another 20 years.”


Update to: Chinese fishing boats approaching Galapagos: what’s being done, what species they endanger and who comprises the fleet
Published: Volume 5, Issue 39
Study reveals that most of the sharks found on the ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 inhabited the waters surrounding Galapagos

A team of researchers and scientists, led by Elisa Bonaccorso of the San Francisco de Quito University (USFQ), published a study in Nature with the results of several genetic analyzes carried out on the bodies of sharks found in the holds of the ship of Chinese flag Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 in 2017 that was detained by Ecuadorian authorities for fishing within the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

The investigation found that of the twelve species of sharks found on the ship, eleven are found within the archipelago and nine are classified as Vulnerable or at higher risk by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). That is, the sharks found in the ship’s holds inhabit the waters that surround Galapagos.

The scientists noted that “the operation of international fleets can hamper national and international efforts to preserve shark populations around the world.” Sharks are under permanent threat in the waters surrounding the archipelago.

A report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization coincides with this, indicating that one of the factors that affect the Galapagos is illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It is the first time that this international organization warned about illegal fishing and the level of threat faced by the best preserved archipelago in the world, but which requires greater protection of the sea that surrounds it.

“The request to expand the Galapagos Marine Reserve began in August 2017, with the arrest of the Chinese-flagged cargo ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999. The bodies of 7,639 sharks were found in the warehouses of this industrial vessel; this motivated a massive protest of the citizens,” said the More Galapagos collective in a statement.

In addition, it reported that an aggravating factor is that in the Insular Exclusive Economic Zone there has been a significant increase in fishing pressure by the Ecuadorian fleets. “To date 99 long-liners, 300 mother vessels and 115 tuna seiner vessels operate in this area, and in each of these fleets, bycatch of sharks and other protected species is generated.”

More Galapagos indicated that it is essential for the preservation of the archipelago to extend the marine reserve.

The ship Fu Yu Leng 999, after the respective legal process, became part of the Ecuadorian Navy and took the name of Hualcopo. The ship has three refrigerated warehouses, 98 meters in length, a width of 16.20 meters, a draft of 6.5 meters, and a displacement capacity of 3,200 tons.

One of the missions carried out by the Hualcopo vessel is to guard the Galapagos Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the face of the alleged depreciation of its fish resources in that area.

Twenty Chinese nationals, crew members of the ship Fu Yu Leng 999, were arrested and later sentenced to prison. Sixteen of them were sentenced to one year in prison, while the other four were sentenced to three years of deprivation of liberty. The payment of $6.1 million was also ordered in favor of the Galapagos National Park (PNG) in this case.

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