COMMON ROOTS

Ecuador 2012 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Adalid Contreras Baspineiro, Secretary-General of the Andean Nations Community (CAN), on integrating the Andean countries with the world, reducing poverty and exchanging electricity among the member states.

Adalid Contreras Baspineiro
BIOGRAPHY
Adalid Contreras Baspineiro is currently the Secretary-General of the Andean Nations Community. He specializes in integration, human rights, and communications for development. As an academic from Universidad Andina Simon Bolívar and the Latin American Council of Social Sciences, he has directed regional institutions such as the Inter-American Platform for Human Rights and worked as a international consultant for the PNUD, UNESCO, IDB, and ASO, based in Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras, and Mexico. He has also written more than 20 specialized books on integration, education, communications, human rights, as well as political analyses of the Latin American reality.

What steps is the Andean Nations Community (CAN) taking to achieve global social, political, and environmental integration?

In the past five years, CAN has faced various challenges and difficulties due to inherent factors in our own region. In February 2010, the Andean Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers and the Commission approved the orienting principles that guide the sub-regional integration process through the “Andean Strategic Agenda," which includes 12 areas. In addition to commercial and economical issues, we discuss social affairs, science and technology, safety, the environment, indigenous issues, tourism, drug trafficking, and culture. Following the Andean Strategic Agenda, and with a boost from the presidency of Bolivia between 2010 and 2011, the “New Andean Strategic Agenda Implementation Plan" was oriented toward the achievement of short-, medium-, and long-term results, in a way that facilitated issue prioritization and the measurement of results. The obtaining of established objectives was grouped, classified, and organized into a hierarchy of general guidelines and orientations; the activities, mechanisms and/or required means, and the expected results from the execution are specified. That's how the work of the General Secretariat has been channeled, with a more purpose-oriented role and with better follow-up tools for the agreements reached by the countries, preserving the gains of the institutional community heritage.

What is your opinion about the efforts made by Ecuador to reduce poverty inside its territory?

In the years prior to the recent financial crisis—and even during its peak—Ecuador demonstrated solid and responsible macroeconomic management, which has been translated into targeted investments that close the social gap and build infrastructure. In Ecuador's case, the challenge of improving the population's social conditions is even greater than facing restrictions in terms of economic policies, due to a lack of a native currency and no monetary or exchange policies. Moreover, our exports are mainly destined for countries that are in recession, which limits foreign investment. Ecuador's programs against poverty have allowed the country to rank among the top five among nations in the region that have significantly reduced poverty between 2002 and 2010. Both the economic growth of the country (in 2010 it was 3.6% and in 2011 it is estimated to reach 8%) and a variety of public transfer mechanisms have influenced falling poverty rates. With these programs, we emphasized school breakfasts, free tuition and books, support programs for Ecuadoreans with handicaps, and socio-productive programs for people that can overcome poverty based on their own effort.

What regulatory framework improvements can be made in regard to energy exchange between members?

CAN depends on the “General Framework for Sub-regional Interconnection of Electric Systems and Intercommunity Exchange of Electricity," which has provided a judicial community framework to boost the development of the electricity issue among member countries. In the context of this decision, in March 2003 the electrical interconnection between Colombia and Ecuador was inaugurated, with important benefits for both countries. In November 2009, the application was suspended for a two-year period and an integral revision of its content was instructed, with the objective of establishing a new general framework for electricity exchanges between Andean countries. Because the Andean regulation was the framework through which the electricity exchange between Colombia and Ecuador was based, we established a transitory regime for these exchanges. Recently, Peru and Ecuador asked that through the Andean framework the faculties granted to Colombia and Ecuador were extended to them to subscribe electricity exchange agreements, with a transitory regime character. The Andean authorities that coordinate the electricity interchange in CAN are the Regulatory Organisms Work Group and the Andean Committee of Regulatory Organisms of Electricity service.

These forums operate with the participation of Chile. In August 2011, these authorities agreed on the terms of a new decision, designed to replace the previous regulations. The rule includes a temporary regime for electricity exchanges between Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru and facilitates electricity exchange in the region, in the perspective of a general framework for the sub-regional interconnection of electrical systems in which principles and general rules are established to include every Andean country.