Ecuador: Continued leftward career of President Correa

On February 17, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa was re-elected in a landslide vote. With more than 95% of the vote counted, the populist Correa secured about 56% of the votes, versus the 24% garnered by his closest rival, businessman Guillermo Lasso. President Correa's ruling party Alianza Pais appears to be on course to secure a majority in Congress as well. During the campaign, President Correa vowed to deepen his "revolution" to diversify the economy, further reduce poverty and maintain Ecuador as the most 'successful economy in Latin America'. The newly re-elected Correa told supporters "In this revolution the citizens are in charge, not capital," on Feburary 17. He dedicated his victory to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a close friend and supporter. Correa has long worked to relieve Ecuador's dependence on petroleum for its economy.

In his first term, Correa deepened his country's ties with President Hugo Chavez and Venezuela, as well as with Brazil. Under Correa, Ecuador has begun developing its considerable natural gas resources, having secured trade deals for export to Brazil. His government, while leftist and nationalist in its rhetoric and orientation, has been severely criticized by defenders of Ecuador's native peoples, whose lands are being traversed by roads required for development. Demonstrations and marches led by Ecuadorean native peoples have been met with repression by the country's security forces. The 48-year-old Correa survived what in 2010 was heralded as a right-wing coup attempt. Since then, his government has been accused of attempting to silence critics, especially in the media.
Correa's statements upon his electoral victory suggest he will single out domestic economic groups, as part of his policy to support the poor. The sectors most likely to be affected by Correa's renewed radicalism could be the banking, media and banana industries. According to Exclusive Analysis, a London-based forecasting firm, Correa is expected to ease conditions for investment by mining companies since he is very keen in attracting foreign direct investment to this sector.
“President Correa's command of Ecuadorean politics puts him in a strong position to continue the aggressive state intervention policies likely targeting domestic economic groups. In Correa’s first term, his policies raised serious concerns among foreign investors,” said Carlos Caicedo, Head of Latin America Forecasting for Exclusive Analysis.
“Correa announced that his government would undertake redistribution of land, increase taxation and force banks to provide credit for productive activities. He also said that his government would prioritise education and research to diversify Ecuador away from dependence on oil income. The latter would require significant funding,” said Caicedo in his report.
“At odds with Ecuador's traditional political instability, Correa appears certain to rule the country for another four years from a position of strength given his popularity and control of Congress, contrasted with a highly divided opposition” he added.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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