Ecuador Is Recovering, Bishop Says

QUITO, Ecuador, JULY 29, 2001 ( Ecuador is like a patient who is showing signs of recovery, says the secretary of the nation´s Catholic bishops´ conference.

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«There are some signs … incipient economic reactivation, lowering of inflation, and some more tranquil and calm voices calling for a lofty national dialogue,» said Bishop José Vicente Eguiguren.

«We have moderate optimism,» he said on television recently. «I think the patient — I am referring to Ecuador — is beginning to improve, that the crisis is being overcome, painfully, but it is being overcome.»

The bishop said that the national dialogue called for by former presidents León Febres Cordero, a Conservative, and Rodrigo Borja, a Social Democrat, must be directed to tracing «the great guidelines that Ecuador should follow for a more worthy life for Ecuadoreans.»

Ecuador´s acute economic crisis of 1998-2000 doomed the sucre as the national currency; it was replaced by the dollar. This nation of 12.9 million people saw its economy shrink by 7% in 1999, while inflation rose.

The government of President Gustavo Noboa attributes the growing economic stability, in part, to the conversion to dollars. The economy could grow by 8% this year, according to Jorge Gallardo, Minister of the Economy.

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