QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador has withdrawn from a regional bloc led by Venezuela in a bid to further distance itself from that country's socialist government.
Foreign minister Jose Valencia said on Thursday that Ecuador has decided to abandon the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, immediately because Ecuador wants to be "independent" of organizations that are trying to impose "specific views" on Latin America's social and political issues.
ALBA was created in 2004 by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a bid to counter U.S. influence in the region. It currently has 12 members that include Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba and several small Caribbean islands.
Ecuador was once a close ally of Venezuela but relations have soured since Lenin Moreno, a centrist, replaced leftist President Rafael Correa.