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The New York Times published an interesting story on Christmas Eve about continuing fallout from the economic decisions made by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. Correa is a socialist who served two terms between 2007 and 2017. His time in office was highlighted by a rejection of Ecuador’s debt (he defaulted) and American influence in the country. Instead, he invited China to come into the country and accepted $19 billion in loans for infrastructure projects in exchange for 90% of Ecuador’s oil production until the cost of the projects was paid off. The largest of the projects was the Coca Codo Sinclair dam. The dam was supposed to generate enough electricity to power a third or more of the country’s needs. But the reality has been something quite different.
When it finally opened in late 2016, China’s president, Xi Jinping, flew to Ecuador to celebrate.
Days - Visit - Dam - Chaos
Yet only two days before the visit, the dam was in chaos.
Engineers had tried to generate the project’s full 1500 megawatts, but neither the facility nor Ecuador’s electrical grid could handle it. The equipment shuddered dangerously, and blackouts spread across the country, officials said.
Ecuadoreans - Failure - Power - Test
Ecuadoreans were never told about the failure, and a full power test has not been attempted since.
Today, the dam typically runs at half capacity. Experts say that given its design — and the cycle of wet and dry seasons in Ecuador — it would be able to generate the full amount of electricity for only a few hours a day, six months out of the year.
Case - Scenario - Case - Dam - Result
And that’s really the best case scenario. There’s a much worse case in which the entire dam could fall apart as a result of shoddy Chinese workmanship:
As early as 2014, technicians noticed cracks in the Chinese-made stainless steel equipment. That December, 13 workers were killed when a tunnel flooded...
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