Ecuador returning German money in environment row

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa. (EPA)

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said Saturday that Quito would be giving back about $8.5 million donated by Germany last year, in an environmental row.

"Go ahead, take your seven million euros. If you like, we will give you another seven million euros for training programs in respect, on sovereignty and on international law," Correa, a leftist economist by training, fumed in his weekly address.  

Germany had expressed disappointment in Ecuador's refusal to allow a German parliamentary delegation to visit the Yasuni.

Many Ecuadoran indigenous and environmental groups oppose government plans to allow oil to be pumped in the remote Amazon basin area that sits atop 920 million barrels of crude oil.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Ecuador has "ceased cooperation" with Germany on environmental issues.

Correa charged that the German lawmakers "were coming here to supervise what was going on in Yusuni" without government permission, slamming the move as "lack of respect."

Patino said it was normal for people to visit areas in which they have invested in different projects. But Germany has put nothing toward environmental issues in Yusuni.

Correa was more blunt.

"They are welcome as tourists. They are welcome as brothers. They are not welcome as supervisors," the president said.

Source AFP

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