"In January 2003, Lucio Gutierrez of the Patriotic Society Party (PSP), a former army Colonel who was part of the junta that toppled the government of Jamil Mahuad in January 2000, became the country's sixth president in seven years. Early in his presidency, President Gutierrez abandoned his populist rhetoric and adopted some market-friendly economic reforms in order to secure support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). His power was severely limited, however, by opposition parties that dominated the Congress, indigenous protests, and allegations of corruption. Despite his party's poor performance in the October 17, 2004 municipal elections, President Gutierrez has found new congressional allies who have helped him stave off impeachment proceedings. In December 2004, Gutierrez replaced the country's high court judges with his political allies, a move which has been sharply criticized by the international community. Ecuador continues to cooperate with the U.S. counter-narcotics program and has mobilized its military and police forces to help control spillover effects from the conflict in Colombia. Ecuador and the United States possess a significant trade relationship that has been enhanced since 1992 by the Andean Trade Preference Act. The two countries are currently negotiating, along with Colombia and Peru, for an Andean Free Trade Agreement. This report will be updated periodically."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21687
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