NEW YORK – The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told EFE in an interview that her country is extremely concerned about the new immigration policies of the United States, and hopes that country will respect migrants’ rights.
“We have drawn up a contingency plan that makes legal aid available to migrants” along with help for deportees, Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said, after explaining that her country’s constitution honors the principle of universal citizenship.
She also recalled that the Ecuadorian Congress approved last January a law of human mobility that guarantees the rights of Ecuadorians in any part of the world, while also assuring the rights of all communities that have settled in Ecuador.
She said her country “can speak with authority” on matters of migrants’ rights because it has the largest number of exiles in Latin America and the Caribbean, and treats them all with equal dignity.
Her country has welcomed 90,000 Colombian refugees and some 20,000 applications for exile from communities now living in Ecuador with the same rights as native Ecuadorians, including Americans, Canadians and Europeans.
Ecuador has also become a destination for US retirees.
Espinosa, who has been foreign minister since last May, said her country has suggested a dialogue to the Donald Trump administration to analyze the subject of migration, but with no response as yet.
“We have proposed to the United States a roundtable discussion on migration. We need solutions and if our compatriots contribute to that country and pay their taxes, their rights must be respected,” she said.
She said that in Ecuador there are “no discriminatory policies, no xenophobia, no policies of repression or persecution of people who have committed no crime.”
Espinosa, who has been the Ecuadorian ambassador to the United Nations in New York and in Geneva, as well as national defense minister, repeated Ecuador’s support for the talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition in the Dominican Republic.
But she also criticized the Organization of American States (OAS) and believes it is not the best institution to intervene in the Venezuelan crisis.
“There is a polarization and a strong stand by the secretary general (Luis Almagro) without a mandate from the member countries,” she said, adding that the Ecuadorian government sees that dialogue “with great enthusiasm and hope,” and believes it “must be given the support necessary to make progress.”
“It benefits Venezuela, its regional integration, and above all its people,” she said.
The next date for the dialogue is Sept. 27, but the continued disagreement between the sides makes any solution to the crisis very difficult.