Adamant: Hardest metal

Ecuador Families Torn Apart as Parents Go to Europe

Sun May 4, 2003 12:17 PM ET
By Amy Taxin

QUITO, Ecuador (Reuters) - Wearing a name tag around her neck, 13-year-old Diana waits at Ecuador's airport to board a jet that will take her to join her parents for the first time since they emigrated to Europe three years ago.

Preparing for the trip from Quito to Amsterdam then on to Milan, the shy teen-ager shows no fear of making her first flight, but she is nervous about life in a new country and a new language.

"We'll have to see if I can get used to it," said Diana, who hopes to stay with her parents in Milan now they have obtained Italian visas after leaving their poor homeland in search of jobs.

In Ecuador, a nation with one of Latin America's highest migration rates, dozens of children board transatlantic jets by themselves every day to rejoin their parents in Europe, hoping the joy of reunion will help ease painful memories of years of separation.

More than half million Ecuadoreans have emigrated since an economic crisis hit the small Andean nation in 1999. People left homes and even children behind in a frantic rush for a better life.

Faced with the option of a treacherous journey through the Mexican desert to cross the U.S. border illegally on foot, many opted for Europe where more relaxed visa rules made it much easier to travel by plane with just a passport in hand.

Ecuadoreans can currently travel to many countries in Europe without a visa while the United States requires one. But the European Union will begin requiring visas on June 1 and there is currently a rush of people trying to beat the deadline.

Already more than 350,000 Latin Americans live legally in Spain -- a four-fold increase from 1996 -- while many others live in Italy. The two nations were sources of heavy migration to Latin America during the 19th and 20th centuries and now the migrants' grandchildren are seeking a way back.

In nations hit by economic chaos like Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay or by poverty like countries in the Andes and Central America, it's hard for people to see a bright future.

In Ecuador, officials say budding economic recovery has done little to stem the tide of migration as crisis-weary citizens set their hopes on a new life in the developed world.

"People have lost their faith in our country," said Leonardo Carrion, director of Ecuador's office for residents abroad. "They just want to leave."

TEARFUL GOOD-BYES

Indian women wearing embroidered blouses and ankle-length skirts huddle together clutching the wire fence around Quito's airport to watch the planes that will whisk their families to Europe, maybe for good.

But as they shed a tear, many who stay behind know migration is the only way for their families to put food on the table in a nation plagued by 60 percent poverty and where remittances have become one of the biggest sources of cash.

Families in Ecuador are traditionally close knit, but money remittances can't make up for the absence of parents who left their children under the watchful eye of elders or neighbors so they can earn enough to pay the bills.

In the southern Andean highlands near Cuenca, many villages have been left almost entirely in the hands of women. Some later join their husbands overseas, but many marriages simply dissolve under the strains of time and distance.

"After losing two or three generations, we've cut the cycle of passing down education, knowledge, values," said Franklin Ortiz, who works with migrants' children in a church-sponsored group in Cuenca. "The entire family structure has changed."

Officials say it's tough to pin down the precise number of Latin Americans living in Europe since many don't need entry papers and simply travel with tourist visas to the EU legally.

But many end up becoming illegal immigrants by overstaying their visas to take jobs on the black market. They pray an eventual amnesty will push their papers through.

At least that's the hope in Ecuador, as people book last-minute flights hoping to gain admittance to Europe before the EU's visa requirement goes into effect in June.

BLACK MARKET SMUGGLERS

Spain counted 132,628 Ecuadoreans with resident permits in June 2002, 81,709 Colombians and 37,863 Peruvians, followed by Dominicans, Argentines and Cubans.

Although Spanish authorities hope to crack down on illegal immigration by requiring visas, experts from the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) say the policy may end up pushing people into the hands of traffickers working in the $10 billion-a-year business of human smuggling.

"Even if it does put the brakes on migration, it can also eventually create channels for irregular migration and immigrant trafficking," IOM's regional advisor for Latin America, Jose Angel Oropeza, told Reuters from Geneva.

Latin Americans from nations which need visas may buy fake passports from dealers in countries like Bolivia where no visa is required to enter the EU freely. Or they seek financing for their travels from powerful loan sharks, taking on massive debts before they even board the plane.

Faced with a shortage of manual labor and the EU's lowest birth rate, Spain took steps to draw Ecuadoreans, Colombians and Dominicans across the Atlantic by offering private sector jobs via local embassies in exchange for a visa.

The Iberian nation also relaxed rules this year to allow people of Spanish ancestry to apply for citizenship.

That doesn't mean life for immigrants is easy in Spain. Reports of alleged xenophobia keep some would-be immigrants at bay and human rights group Amnesty International has denounced police treatment of foreign nationals.

But many immigrants see no other choice as their nations fail to put wobbly economies on stable footing, and where the minimum wage is hardly enough to keep children from going hungry, let alone to send them to school.

Joselyn, a 29-year-old Ecuadorean mother who earns $900 a month waiting tables in Mallorca, holds back a tear while talking about the 9-year-old daughter she has left behind in her hometown of Riobamba nestled in the snow-capped Andes.

"I've been gone from Ecuador for many years and she doesn't know me so well," the young mother said, waiting for her flight back to Europe after a fleeting vacation with her family. "But what else can we do? All our struggle is for them."

US Is Top Destination For Ecuador's Jan Exports

Dow Jones Newswires
Friday March 28, 2:01 AM

QUITO -(Dow Jones)- In January, Ecuador sent 36% of its exports to the U.S., 22% to Europe and 21% to Andean Community Countries, the central bank said Thursday.

According to the bank, another 7% went to Asia, 1% to the Latin American Association of Integration, or Aladi, and the remainder to other countries.

In the first month of 2003, exports to the U.S. totaled $156.8 million; to Europe, $94.8 million; to the Andean Community, $90.4 million; to Asia, $28.9 million; and to Aladi, $5.4 million.

On the import side of the ledger, Ecuador imported $149.7 million, or 24%, from the U.S.; $122.6 million, or 20%, from Europe; $121.4 million, or 19%, from Aladi; $108.1 million, or 17%, from the Andean Community; and $91.2 million, or 15%, from Asia.

The Andean Community consists of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Aladi is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

Ecuadorean exports worldwide totaled $436.4 million in the first month of 2003, while imports totaled $620.9 million, according to the central bank.

-By Mercedes Alvaro, Dow Jones Newswires; 5939-9728-653; mercedes.alvaro@dowjones.com

21st Century Technologies Inks an Arms Deal with the National Police of Ecuador

<a href=www.businesswire.com

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Business Editors/High-Tech Writers

FORT WORTH, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 27, 2003--21st Century Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB:TFCT) announced today that its wholly-owned subsidiary Innovative Weaponry, Inc. has completed a sale of up to 10,000 units of its PT Night Sights(TM) for Glock handguns to various arms-bearing departments of the country of Ecuador, primarily the National Police of Ecuador. Night sights provide gun users with a more accurate aim at the object they are attempting to shoot.  
PT Night Sights(TM) have already become extremely popular among U.S. law enforcement agencies. Numerous agencies at the state and local level utilize PT Night Sights, including major police departments such as the Los Angeles Police Department. Innovative Weaponry's client base consists of several bodies of the U.S. military establishment as well as the Navy Seal Teams, Delta Force, the Customs Service and the DEA.  
"This single agreement alone could increase Innovative Weaponry's annual revenues by 25% or $400,000. More importantly, however, we believe this sale will open the door for us in Latin America. The potential in Ecuador is measured in millions of dollars and the overall market in Latin America could be as high as $100 million. We are also making significant progress in other foreign markets, with orders from Norway, Trinidad, the Philippines, Singapore and Venezuela. And, we already work with all major gun manufacturers in the world, including Smith &amp; Wesson (AMEX:SWB), Colt, Glock and Remington," says Arland Dunn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of 21st Century Technologies, Inc.  
Innovative Weaponry's products feature tritium sights with the front sight designed to be brighter than the rear sight, which enhances low light sighting. Available in a variety of colors, the product consists of night sights in dot, bar or combination configurations using the radioactive isotope tritium encapsulated in phosphor-lined glass. Beta particles emitted by the tritium excite the phosphors and cause a substantial glow, thus providing sight pictures in low light and no light situations. Innovative Weaponry has also designed and manufactured some prototype sights using fiber optic material, utilizing ultra-violet rays that transmit them through the glass fibers, giving the shooter a phenomenal daytime-like sight picture.  

Safe Harbor Statement  

The statements made by 21st Century Technologies, Inc. (the Company) may be forward-looking in nature and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are based on assumptions and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the control of the Company. Actual results could differ materially from those projected due to risks such as changes in interest rates, market competition, our ability to generate orders and various other business factors.  



--30--MJR/da*  

CONTACT: FOCUS Partners LLC  
         Investor Contact  
         David Zazoff, 212/752-9445  
         TFCT@focuspartners.com  
             or  
         21st Century Technologies, Inc.  
         Larry B. Bach, 818/707-9466  

KEYWORD: TEXAS INTERNATIONAL LATIN AMERICA  
INDUSTRY KEYWORD: GOVERNMENT AEROSPACE/DEFENSE MARKETING  

AGREEMENTS
SOURCE: 21st Century Technologies, Inc.

World Bank releases delayed money for Ecuador

Ecuador
Reuters, 03.26.03, 4:46 PM ET
WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) - The World Bank said on Wednesday it is set to release a delayed $30 million loan for Ecuador, paving the way for the institution to consider a new lending program of up to $1 billion for the country through 2006.
The loan tranche had previously been held up partly due to the country's failure to reach agreement on a loan program with the International Monetary Fund, a World Bank source said.
Ecuador and the IMF announced last Friday they had struck a deal on a $205 million loan.
"The Ecuadorean Government has shown a solid commitment to ensuring fiscal control, which allows the Bank to move forward with disbursement," Marcelo Giugale, Director of the World Bank's program in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela said in a statement.
"It has also taken significant steps to strengthen the country's banking system, and to protect spending that helps the poor."
The $30 million loan tranche, which was supposed to have been paid out last year, is the final disbursement of a $101 million structural adjustment loan to the country. The last disbursement came in June 2001.
The World Bank source told Reuters the bank is considering an overall lending program of up to $1 billion over the next three years. Bank officials are expected to further discuss the program with finance officials from Ecuador during the annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF next month.
The program is then expected to be put up for discussion by the bank's decision-making executive board before the end of the June.
"The Ecuadorean government's approach combines a focused effort to achieve macroeconomic stability, with an equally determined attack on poverty," said the World Bank's Representative in Ecuador, McDonald Benjamin.
The World Bank's current portfolio in Ecuador includes 13 projects worth a total of $356 million in commitments.

Ecuador sees $100 mln cushion if oil prices fall

www.forbes.com
Reuters, 03.20.03, 12:04 PM ET

QUITO, Ecuador, March 20 (Reuters) - After receiving high prices for its crude in the first quarter of 2003, Ecuador has a $100 million cushion should oil prices fall following war in Iraq, the Central Bank said on Thursday.

Central Bank president Mauricio Yepez told reporters the oil-dependent nation has secured an average of $29 per barrel of crude so far this year, well above the $18-per-barrel price forecast in the central government's $6.7 billion budget.

These high oil prices -- which were stoked by tensions in Iraq and unrest in Venezuela -- should inject $100 million into a government stabilization fund by the end of March, providing an ample cushion should crude prices fall, he said.

"Nearly three months have passed in this fiscal year and the average price we've been selling our crude at is $29 (a barrel). This gives us a rather large cushion," Yepez said. "Even if oil prices fall below $18 per barrel, we won't have any difficulties in executing the (economic) program."

Oil prices tumbled to three-month lows on Thursday after the United States began bombing Iraq and dealers bet on a swift U.S. victory with little disruption to Middle East supply.

Ecuador is relying on oil -- its biggest export-- for about 22 percent of the central government budget this year.

The country stores additional revenues in a stabilization fund to bolster the budget should prices fall. But if prices exceeded the per-barrel price forecast for the year, excess revenues would be earmarked for local agencies and institutions.

Yepez added he hoped the International Monetary Fund's executive board would approve a vital $200 million loan backing the cash-strapped nation's economic program on Friday.

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