President Rafael Correa of Ecuador ended his visit to Rome on Tuesday night. He came to take part in an international symposium on the environment held in the Vatican and organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also took part at the event. While the Symposium began in the Pius IV Casina, Pope Francis received President Correa in the study of the Paul VI Hall.
Referring to his meeting with the Pope, the President said to ZENIT that “it was a very fraternal meeting as usual.” He considers the Pontiff an “extremely affable person, extremely solidaristic” and he reiterated that “we await him with great joy in my country.”
Responding to the idea that the Holy Father is also exacting, he joked: “if the Pope was so exacting he wouldn’t have given me an audience,” and, hearing the Argentine accent of one of those present he laughed and added: “The Pope is doubly infallible, for being Pope and for being Argentine.”
In a tweet after the audience, President Correa revealed: “he told me a joke: [He said that] everyone was surprised that he chose to be called ‘Francis,’ because being Argentine, they thought he would be called ‘Jesus II’ …”
The panels held during the congress on the environment, entitled “Protect the Earth, Ennoble Humanity. The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and of Sustainable Humanity,” gave Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa the possibility to speak on two occasions.
Correa said that the majority of ecological damages are caused by developed countries, which must offer developing countries the possibility to be compensated, thus to guarantee the conservation of the planet. He added that the poorest countries will be unable to contribute to the conservation of the planet’s resources “if there are no clear and direct improvements in the level of life of the population.” Therefore, he called for compensation mechanisms that help developing countries not to take initiatives that damage the planet.
He also recalled Ecuador’s initiative in 2007, destined to avoid the extraction of petroleum from the natural reserve of the Yasuni ITT region, in exchange for a financial compensation of US$336 million by the International Community. He said that that figure was not given as promised, reaching only US$13 million. He also proposed that the technologies that are used to purify the planet should be considered “global public goods.”
President Correa reminded those present of the existence of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, of which Ecuador was the first country to recognize it in its Constitution.
Shortly before leaving, he dined at the Ritz Hotel with a group of Ecuadorian families residing in Italy, who have had adverse family situations or problems with the custody of their children. The Minister of Human Mobility, Magistrate Maria Landazuri de Mora, explained to ZENIT that the families that took part in the dinner had already succeeded in solving their family situation.
“The idea for us was that families get together, fathers, mothers, grandmothers and grandchildren that were separated from their family for some time and that have now been reunited with their family.”
Today they have met with the President to feel the backing that the country gives them,” and she mentioned “the effort we made to reverse their situation of crisis or to have decisions of the courts changed which sometimes were unjust.”
She pointed out that in some cases of families in crisis psychological support was given, while in others in which there were unjust decision by the courts, there was intervention from the legal point of view, requesting revision of the processes and expert opinions, because there was incomplete criteria and elements that had not been considered. It was done through Consulates, where social workers, psychologists and legal advisers were contracted that speak Spanish.