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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Ecuador-U.S. relations changing

More than 800 pounds of cocaine are produced in the Andes Mountains each year, and $30 to $40 billion of the substance is consumed in the United States alone, said Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga, Ecuadorian ambassador to the United States. The trade is important to Ecuador’s economy, he said.
“Twenty-five million Americans consume it, so there will be production,” Gallegos said.
Gallegos discussed relations between the United States and Ecuador Tuesday afternoon in the Allen Building at a lecture sponsored by the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
Ecuador, a country with 13.5 million people, is one of the world’s leading exporters of petroleum, bananas, cut flowers and shrimp, Gallegos said. Fifteen to 20 percent of the country’s population is indigenous, and 5 to 10 percent is black, Chinese or mestizo, he said.
The country recently changed its role in international trade, as it switched 20 years ago from an agricultural society to one that specializes in the services industry, Gallegos said. Ecuador’s gross domestic product was $3,900 per capita in 2005, which is good compared to other South American countries, he said.
Although the country suffers from a loss of medical and educational professionals, the cut flower industry has produced much-needed jobs in Ecuador, Gallegos said.
“We are losing teachers and doctors, and its hurting Ecuador’s economy,” he said. “We do not have the ability to create jobs in such a young country.”
Gallegos said his goal was to express the interests of his people and his country, where women are viewed as important societal contributors and are becoming increasingly more involved in the working community.
“This small country has a big agenda, and we want to represent people,” he said. “The principle values of Ecuadorian society make it unique.”
Gallegos’ speech was important because it gave those in attendance the ability to see the country from an important viewpoint, said Joshua Sandoval, a freshman international studies major.
“As an ambassador he can give us insight not only to the political situation in Ecuador, but how Ecuador is linked to the global community,” Sandoval said.

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