At the time of spending in the publicity campaign “Chevron’s Dirty Hand”, Rafael Correa did not seem concerned with the figures. If the most important and splendid show-business stars had to be brought to be part of this campaign to dip their hands in oil spills, all possible efforts had to be made.
This according to the recent digital publication by the US American Media Institute, AMI, which claims having gained access to emails that President Rafael Correa allegedly exchanged with some of his officials involved in the making of the campaign. In these alleged emails, uploaded to the web by washingtonium, appears a Rafael Correa irritated by the poor results of the campaign.
To develop the “Chevron Dirty Hand” campaign, the Ecuadorian government hired MCSquared a Brooklyn, N.Y. based PR firm, owned by María Garay who, according to the content of the emails attributed to Correa, was the President’s childhood friend. “We have a tremendous battle against this corrupt and corrupting Chevron,“ said Correa in August 2014 when he confirmed the news appeared in US media outlets on the hiring of MCSquared. The Ecuadorian government paid $6.4 million to MCSquared to work on the campaign. This company hired, -through representatives-, several artists like Danny Glover, Mia Farrow and Darryl Hanna to travel to Ecuador and be part of this campaign.
According to these emails, (which AMI attributes to Correa and his officials, among them Fernando Alvarado, back then secretary of Communication, and Nathalie Cely, then Ecuadorian ambassador in Washington) Correa had greater expectations of the campaign. He wanted Hollywood stars as important as Bianca Jagger or Cher to visit the country, and wanted this type of visits conducted on a weekly basis.
From the text of these emails attributed by AMI to Correa and his officials, it is understood Cely, Fernando Alvarado and his brother Vinicio, then secretary of Administration, coordinated the publicity campaign. In one of these texts Fernando Alvarado tells Correa the leader of the entire campaign was his brother Vinicio. “I only wanted to bring to mind that the one leading the strategy is Vinicio. Almost everything you have seen and his team “-Instituto- (last week they presented something much more structured),” reads one of the emails attributed by AMI to Fernando Alvarado.
From one of the emails published by AMI it may be inferred Correa urgently needed to improve the campaign and complained weekly visits had not been organized. It can also be seen that in their eagerness to satisfy the President, both Cely and Fernando Alvarado announced the hiring of Cher and Bianca Jagger was almost ready. Although none of them came to Ecuador as it was sought, they did make public pronouncements against the oil company.
AMI affirms having examined “hundreds” of mails, which, it affirms, were exchanged between Alvarado, Cely and Correa. It also claims the government of Ecuador made monthly deposits of $534,000 in the account MCSquared had in City Bank. Documents delivered to the US Department of Justice show that by the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 MCSquared paid Greater Talent Network $188,000, and $33,000 to the American Program Bureau, to find celebrities to participate in the media campaign against Chevron. “According to the documents, the results of the campaign disappointed Correa,” affirms the publication.
“We must bring Bianca for the Dirty Hand campaign. We have lacked forcefulness and we are losing momentum. No significant celebrities have come,” says Rafael Correa in one of the emails attributed to him by the AMI. Another curiosity of the emails attributed to Correa, is the way in which he allegedly speaks of María del Carmen Garay, owner of MCSquared. In the texts he tells Fernando Alvarado he should be aware of the fact Garay is not up to the task and that he knows this because he has known her for a long time. “Fernando: María del Carmen Garay, my childhood friend, is not up to the task, this is way too big for her. We have already discussed this.”
The Ecuador State Comptroller’s Office examined MCSquared’s disbursements and determined there was nothing irregular.
Fernando Alvarado, in one of the emails attributed to him by the AMI, responds, “President, I agree with you on Ma. del Carmen; I have always been aware of this. I only wanted to bring to mind that the one leading the strategy is Vinicio”.
AMI’s publication provides new data on the hiring of MCSquared, which has been severely criticized as it was discovered the company’s shareholders have close ties with the Presidency’s officials. After all, $6.4 million are not to be sniffed at.
To read the original post in Spanish, click here.