Last June, Ecuador's president tried to turn his belief that borders
should be open into reality. He announced that anyone from anywhere
could visit Ecuador without a visa. Overnight, Chinese began arriving
by the dozens. They apparently were hoping to use Ecuador as a
springboard to the United States by tapping into the nation's vast
got so bad that they quickly put rules into place requiring Chinese
citizens to use licensed tour operators and provide documentation.
some interesting thinking here: Ecuador both imports and exports
immigrants; it's a transit point for immigrants, and organized crime
thrives here. The new policy is about letting people in but doesn't
address the fact that Ecuador also lets people out into the US. The
story also doesn't go into the transport necessary to get immigrants to
the US, but presumably, the way from China, through Ecuador, to the US
is difficult and expensive. Which brings us back to the issue of what
kind of mainland Chinese can afford this trip. Will they be educated
middle class Chinese with some savings but facing imminent bankruptcy
if they stay at home? And will the US government treat them differently
than they treat undocumented Latin American immigrants?
story didn't say how the US government has responded to Ecuador's new
policy. But Ecuador is an interesting case all around. Its new
government, under Rafael Correa, is leftist, but Ecuador, like Panama
and El Salvador, doesn't print its own currency ... it uses American
dollars, and is therefore extremely vulnerable to worldwide economic
bumpiness. It's also an OPEC nation, dependent on a petroleum market
that just collapsed. So Ecuador has just imposed import restrictions on pretty much everything, in an attempt to stave off economic collapse.
Here's more on Ecuador's economic crisis, and Correa's repudiation of Ecuador's national debt, which has left them unable to borrow money.