IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Suturing the Open Veins of Ecuador: Debt, Default and Democracy


  • Mansell Wade

    (Kent Law School)

  • Openshaw Karen

    (Kent Law School)


In 2008 the Ecuadorian government received a report on the legitimacy of the country's sovereign debt from an international audit commission appointed by Ecuador's current president, Rafael Correa. This concluded that much of the debt was tainted by illegality and illegitimacy and consequently did not merit repayment. Citing the report's findings as justification, the government stopped making interest payments on certain of the country's bonds, but, rather than repudiating them altogether, engineered a successful buyback at a large discount. Having thus reduced Ecuador's external commercial debt burden by about a third, the government is now planning to address multilateral and bilateral loans also adjudged unlawful by the commission.This article examines the robust approach adopted by the Correa administration to tackling Ecuador's public debts, placing it in the context of the country's troubled economic history and contrasting it with previous defaults and debt workouts which largely worked to Ecuador's disadvantage. In doing so, it considers the use which the government has made of the increasingly prominent concepts of odious and illegitimate debt as a means of combating the indebtedness of the South. The conclusion reached is that, regardless of the final position suggested by international law, the realities of international relations are likely to limit the practicality of legal remedies. Nevertheless, the case of Ecuador provides a new chapter in the continuing academic debate regarding unlawful debt.These, of course, are the legal aspects of Ecuador's endeavours to curtail expenditure desperately needed for other purposes. Underlying the legal implications is the reality of an impoverished nation called upon to continue to service or redeem 'debt' that brought no obvious benefit to the overwhelming majority of its people. Debt repayment has promoted impoverishment and also, if indirectly, facilitated devastating environmental degradation.

Suggested Citation

  • Mansell Wade & Openshaw Karen, 2009. "Suturing the Open Veins of Ecuador: Debt, Default and Democracy," The Law and Development Review, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 151-191, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:lawdev:v:2:y:2009:i:1:n:7

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mathew Bradbury & Matías Vernengo, 2008. "The Limits to Dollarization in Ecuador: Lessons from Argentina," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2008_12, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:lawdev:v:2:y:2009:i:1:n:7. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.