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Saturday

Vice President Gustavo Noboa Takes Charge of Ecuador

Aired January 22, 2000 - 12:17 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

GENE RANDALL, CNN ANCHOR: In Ecuador, Vice President Gustavo Noboa today took charge of the troubled nation. He became Ecuador's sixth president in four years, a day after a turbulent chain of events that began with a protest and ended with President Jamil Mahuad's departure from the presidential palace.

CNN's Rosemary Church has a report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ecuador's economy is in crisis. Inflation is said to be spiraling out of control, the value of the currency has plunged, Poverty and unemployment rates are skyrocketing, and the economy has shrunk 7 1/2 percent in the 17 months that President Jamil Mahuad has been in power.

SIMON PACHANO, ECUADOR POLITICAL ANALYST (through translator): Ecuador's paying for the consequence of a culmination of problems in the past years, problems of political character, of economics, of social character. It's one of the country's with the worst distribution of wealth in Latin America; it's a country that hasn't realized the economic reforms in order to equalize the economy.

CHURCH: The indigenous population, led by Antonio Vargas, is asking that more money be distributed to the agricultural sector, that capitalism take on a more human face, and that a moratorium should be declared on the country's foreign debt. Ecuador's debt is almost equal to its annual economic at output.

Last December, the country shocked world financial markets when it defaulted on some international loans. Mr. Mahuad proposed to tackle the economic problems by adopting the United States currency. But the indigenous groups and labor unions say the proposal would further impoverish them, because wages would go down while prices would rise.

Military chief Carlos Mendoza and his supporters didn't say how they planned to tackle the economic problems.

RANDALL: That report was filed by CNN's Rosemary Church.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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