I continue to look in every corner for glimpses of what is really going on in Ecuador. Merri and I are committed to help the poor in this country, so we have stuck through thick and thin. But we realize that many people who follow us down are looking mainly for profit so I have accepted the commitment to keep trying to see Ecuador's economic potential in advance. I believe this is a time of incredible opportunity, but am continually looking at the opinions of others.
Sometimes answers I find are surprising.
This was especially the case when I discussed the position with indigenous leader Taita Yatchak when he visited us here at the farm. He pointed out Ecuador's strong Middle Eastern connection and large Arab influence in South America. Two of the last Presidents in Ecuador for example (Bucaram and Mahuad) were of Middle Eastern decent.
Taita Yatchak reminded me of this old, deep Arab influence throughout Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru and then told me that the Arabs have made new connections with their Mid Eastern brethren. He believes these connections are purposely stirring up trouble in this region.
Think about it. Ecuador and Venezuela are the two largest oil producers in South America. Who benefits most (along with Ecuador and Venezuela) from political, economic and or a military crisis in these countries that push oil prices up? This seemed far fetched at first but the more I thought about it the more likely it seemed to make sense.
This could however play into the hands of Ecuador's President Noboa and help Ecuador's economy in the short term
For example Stratford Intelligence reports that Noboa is seeking benefits from Plan Colombia because Ecuador is likely to suffer consequences of the U.S.-financed military offensive against drug traffickers in Colombia. The United States has offered Ecuador $20 million but President Gustavo Noboa wants $250 million and $300 million for military material, including helicopters and river-patrol boats. Noboa wants an entire Plan Colombia for Ecuador. The U.S. cannot afford to ignores these demands lest Ecuador rethinks its support for Plan Colombia, including the use of Ecuador's Pacific Coast by U.S. anti-drug aircraft.
Noboa is asking for U.S. funding and economic development in northern Ecuador. The U.S. must heed this request because Ecuador's soils are suitable for cultivating coca and opium poppy and its poor farmers in the northern region offer fertile ground for a drug- fuelled insurgency.
High oil prices and adopting the U.S. dollar as Ecuador's national currency have stabilized the economy and defused political tensions. Inflation is under control at last and oil will account for about 45 percent of Ecuador's export earnings this year, compared with about 20 percent in 1999. However, the crisis in Ecuador is far from over. Right now Noboa has some breathing room, but oil prices will fall eventually, and the risk of renewed political unrest is high.
For more on Latin America, see: http://www.stratfor.com/latinamerica/default.htm
On a much brighter side, I also look for reasons above and beyond the money why people should invest in Ecuador. Two favorite reasons are the low costs and wonderful people! A letter from one of my friends, a Doctor who is moving from Canada to Ecuador exemplifies this when he wrote:
“Dear Gary & Merri,
My wife is just back from Quito, selecting floors, tiles, finishes etc. She reports a definite change in the mood of the people. Things have stabilized and everybody believes the country will turn around by mid-2001. The value of our land has appreciated 40% since we bought it. We will take possession of our house Jan.31.
Our farm manager, lawyer & architect treated her like a queen, even though she did a lot of hard negotiating! She is BLOWN AWAY by the magnificence of our hacienda. From the plans we never thought it would be so fine. It is a showplace! You should definitely introduce your clients to our architect. He has added many little ideas of his own at no extra cost because he truly takes pride in his work. This man is an ARTIST; a real 'right-brainer' – somewhat disorganized but nevertheless brilliant. He usually does 2 to 3 million $ mansions & this is the first “little” project he's done for gringos. I think he'd like to do more. You should meet him; his English not too good but his son translates well. Better still, take a trip (45 minutes S. of Quito) to see our place! Debra says “It's a castle!”.
Our final cost for the house – $150K – including everything – water supply & storage, sewage, garden, electricity, gas, phone, 12ft. ceilings, rustico, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, library, wine cellar, 2-car garage, laundry, dining-room, living-room, huge kitchen, huge patio with BBQ & pizza-oven, lovely entrance hall with internal balcony & fountain, (separate servants' house) – & even a bell-tower straight out of Spain!! We can't believe it!! It would cost at least 1/2 million in North America. It came in at double his original estimate – because of the 40% inflation then. But now inflation is way way down – we have a surplus. Such is the honesty of our lawyer & architect. (And our farm manager – also a real estate agent – whom I've already told you about). ”
Our recent Inspired Investing course here at Merrily Farms focused on the importance of loving what you do to create wealth. Merri and I have a compulsion we can't quite understand to help the indigenous people of Ecuador so we look for ways to make money there. Our friend who is building there obviously loves the people and the country's beauty. Ecuador's enormous diversity is one of the country's big attractions in my opinion. There are so many reasons to be there. If you visit you'll find the process wonderful and have an incredible chance to make good money.