After winning his re-election on February 17, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa had extensive conversations with representatives of foreign media, introducing his strategic plan and agenda for his upcoming presidential term that will last until 2017. Correa won a landslide victory, as it was expected this was the fruit of his tireless work towards eradicating poverty and rekindle Ecuador’s reputation in the international financial institutions and regional organizations.
President Correa is the only president to complete two full terms in office in the last two decades in Quito, additionally is expected to emerge as the potential leader of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, an economic block seen as the major force countering US and OAS influences in South America.
According to World Bank Data, Ecuador’s population of over 14 million people has experienced a reduction of people living under the poverty line. In 2006 there were 37 percent of Ecuadorians living under the poverty line and in 2011 the number of poor citizens was reduced into 28 percent.
As for Ecuadorean opposition parties, Correa has been suppressing free speech and hindered free enterprise through heavy taxation and additional regulatory fees.
Correa’s main concern was to unravel the disinformation of a number of Argentinean presses which misinformed the public on his political campaign and had taken the Ecuadorian president’s statement out of context. Correa noted that in “today’s world some condemned actions by some are valued actions by others; there is a double international moral, which abhors some policies and values others.
According to Correa, newspapers like “La Nation” have maintained a permanent strategy of disinformation and provided statements out of context for leaders in the region, he invited Argentine newspapers to verify and acknowledge their errors in twisting his statements made during the political campaign.
President Correa said that that Quito’s priority is to further advance in energy, telecommunications, oil, mining exploration and diversify the heavy industry of the nation. This is the reason why Correa had chosen Jorge Glas Espinel, as vice President, since he is an expert in these fields of national economy. Vice President Espinel has served as Minister of Coordination in the strategic sectors of Ecuador and his main focus has been the redistribution of National Wealth through the implementation of development projects under the “Good Living” program.
Upcoming Renewable Energy Projects
In an interview with Reuters, Correa stated that by 2016, Ecuador “will produce 93% of electricity through hydroelectric dams that will assure greater energy efficiency and a cleaner planet.” Correa continued to emphasize that when he first became president “Ecuador was experiencing a great level of labor outsourcing, where oil and large amounts of foreign debt were a daily reality for Ecuador.” The interesting fact is that most holders of debt were Ecuadorians themselves, a trend that has changed in the recent years.
Correa, a US-educated economist, is expected to increase the rhetoric against United States and perhaps will become more vocal than Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, considering that the latter is battling with cancer since mid-last year. Rafael Correa is also exploring ways to have his country become a full member of MERCOSUR, at a time when this regional trade block has become a true competitor of US Strategic Interests in South America.
President Chavez’s influence is anticipated to grow, as his country was admitted as a full member of MERCOSUR in July, 2012 and the sick Venezuelan leader’s ideology has been passed along to Bolivia’s President, Evo Morales Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner and last but importantly, Presidents Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. With Paraguay’s expulsion from MERCOSUR and UNASUR, hope remains high for the United States to rise up to the opportunity and take a leading role in further strengthening commercial and political with Asuncion’s current administration.
Spero columnist Peter M. Tase analyzes Latin American diplomatic and commercial affairs.