Inresponse to tension surrounding the signing of the Free TradeAgreement, the bishops of Ecuador published an urgent statement lastFriday calling on the government to initiate a more extensive nationaldialogue before signing the treaty.

“Most of thedifficulties resulting from the FTA,” the bishops said, “have theirorigins in the lack of opportune and adequate information regarding anissue that greatly affects the lives of all Ecuadorians.  We needto see clearly the advantages and disadvantages that come with the FTA,who will benefit and who will suffer, and in what measure.”

The bishopspointed out that it is essential “we understand the consequences ofboth signing and not signing the FTA.  We understand many studieshave been done; but they have not been sufficiently known or discussedin Ecuadorian public opinion in order to establish of kind ofassessment between the costs and benefits of signing or not signing theTreaty.”  

The statementwarns that “the lack of information and the way in which negotiationshave been carried out have created an atmosphere of suspicion and fear.”

“We suggest,”the bishops state, “that the national government consult with thepeople before the next Congress ratifies or rejects the FTA, that allefforts be exhausted to obtain the greatest gain and the least amountof harm, and that a way for helping those who end up suffering the mostbe developed, which, although it would not be a permanent solution,would alleviate in some way those who are affected.”

The bishopsurged “all Ecuadorians, especially our indigenous peoples,” to rejectviolence and to accept dialogue as a way of resolving the issue. “We are aware that the FTA represents and demands big changes in theeconomy of the nation.  Our immigrant brothers and sisters andthose of us who work here have shown the strong potential of theEcuadorian workforce.  We trust in this creative capacity and wetrust in Divine Providence, which will never abandon those who placetheir trust in God the Father,” the bishops said in conclusion.