Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, waves to the crowd. The U.S. Agency for International Development has cancelled its aid to the Latin American country. Photo by: Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador / CC BY-NC-SA

First Russia, then Bolivia, and now Ecuador.

In little over a year, the U.S government decided to cancel $32 million in aid to Ecuador after the Ecuadorian government informed the U.S. Agency for International Development that it could not pursue new programs or extend current ones until both sides reached a new agreement governing bilateral cooperation.

In a letter sent by the Ecuadorian government quoted by Reuters and the Christian Science Monitor, a USAID representative told local authorities that two years of negotiations had failed to produce a consensus, forcing the U.S. government to suspend official development assistance to the country, where the aid agency has been present for half a century.

The move, however, did not come as a surprise in Ecuador, where President Rafael Correa — a staunch ally of other Latin American populist leaders like Evo Morales in Bolivia and the deceased Hugo Chavez in Venezuela — already kicked out the U.S. ambassador in 2011 and had threatened several times to do the same with USAID for funding local aid groups aligned with the opposition. Correa further strained ties with Washington by housing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London and considering asylum for former U.S. intelligence officer Edward Snowden. Assange and Snowden are both accused of leaking classified U.S. government documents to the media.

The news also comes just a few months after Bolivia decided to expel USAID for similar political reasons in May.

Devex reported then that Ecuador and Venezuela were the next likely countries the agency would depart from, in a trend that is severely undermining USAID-led development efforts in Latin America, as well as affecting local partners dependent on those funds to continue ongoing programs.

The agency was likewise driven in September 2012 from Russia after President Vladimir Putin clamped down on pro-democracy groups and foreign-funded NGOs.

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About the author

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    Carlos Santamaria

    Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.

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