Friday, February 15th 2013 - 05:51 UTC

Clear victory for Correa will have him in frontline to succeed Chavez

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, one of Latin America's most outspoken leaders is almost certain to win re-election on Sunday by an ample margin catapulting him as the most probable successor of Venezuela’s ailing Hugo Chavez and the populist movement in Latinamerica.

The combative US trained economist Correa “gets things done” and represents political stability

The combative US-trained economist has won strong support by using windfall oil earnings to give cash handouts to some 2 million people and expand access to healthcare and education.

Correa has a lead of as much as 50 percentage points over the nearest of his seven rivals in opinion polls. His confrontation with oil companies and Wall Street investors has helped him drum up nationalist fervour.

He took a leave of absence from the presidency to focus on campaigning, and for the past six weeks he has been tirelessly visiting windswept Andean hamlets, sweltering Amazon towns and urban slums in the country of 15 million.

“We already have a president, we have Rafael!” is a common chant at his campaign rallies. His rivals mostly drive through shantytowns in convoys, while saturating local media with campaign ads.

Three respected pollsters show the 49-year-old Correa, who caught the world's attention last year by granting asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as the clear front runner.

The Perfiles de Opinion polling firm recently showed him with 62% support. To avoid a second round, Correa needs to win 50% of the vote or 40% with a lead of 10 percentage points over the second-placed candidate.

Correa has been in power for six years and a victory on Sunday would give him another four years. In the decade before he came to office, three presidents were ousted by military coups and street protests.

His re-election could help shore up the ALBA bloc of populist leaders in Latin America. Venezuela’s Chavez has been the anti-US group's undisputed leader, but he is fighting cancer and may not be able to hang onto power. Further more the Castro brothers in Cuba are in their late eighties and with precarious health.

Supporters admire Correa's unflinching style of government, but others are put off by his impetuous manner and his penchant for confrontation with reporters and bankers.

“People say he's arrogant and mean, but he gets things done,” said political science professor Franklin Ramirez. “The key is that people can see the difference between political instability and a paralysis of the state in the past, with the extraordinary dynamism they see nowadays.”

However adversaries say constitutional changes that Correa pushed through in 2008 allowed him to reshape state institutions to boost his power while placing allies in key posts. They accuse him of using a referendum to bypass a hostile Congress on an overhaul of the justice system.

Opponents also allege that Correa has accumulated power and persecuted private media in an ongoing dispute that has included launching several libel suits against critical newspapers and reporters. Correa insists he is a victim of the media.

He ended a 2012 interview by WikiLeaks' Assange with the phrase “Welcome to the club of the persecuted,” comparing his own experience with the media to the former computer hacker's battle to avoid extradition from Britain.

If Correa wins on Sunday, his main challenge will be to win over investors who have turned their backs on Ecuador. In 2008, Correa's government defaulted on 3.2 billion dollars in foreign debt and in 2010 he forced oil companies to sign new contracts giving more revenue to the government.

 

30 comments Feed

Note: Comments do not reflect MercoPress’ opinions. They are the personal view of our users. We wish to keep this as open and unregulated as possible. However, rude or foul language, discriminative comments (based on ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or the sort), spamming or any other offensive or inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. Please report any inadequate posts to the editor. Comments must be in English. Comments should refer to article. Thank you.

1 Anglotino (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 06:16 am Report abuse
Succeeding Chavez is hardly a prize. That buffoon has bankrupted his country and is sending millions of people back to the poverty that he just recently helped them escape.

Even Correa has started to distance himself from Chavez.

As for Assange! OMFG what an anus! He is running for a senate seat in my home state so I get to put him last on the ballot.

“Welcome to the club of the persecuted” - Enuf said really!
2 Boovis (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 06:46 am Report abuse
Assange highlighted some very important details of political activity and reminded governments they work for the people and not the other way around. The audacity of the US government to state that there are some things the public should not know is arrogance in the extreme. To vote for someone to represent you, only for them to turn around and say “thanks, but I'll only let you know things I'm doing when I think you should know” what kind of democracy is that?
On the other hand, this whole thing has gone to Assange's head and he seems to have a completely personal agenda now, hence the split in the original groups he formed. Good luck to him, but I'm not sure he's smart enough to not be just someone else's stooge instead.
3 Tobers (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 06:58 am Report abuse
@Boovis

Julian Assange is a narcissist who got the ultimate thrill - him against the world - with the Wikileaks exposes but when the chickens came home to roost, when reality dawned on him, he completely wet himself.

Its kind of easy when you're doing your revolting behind a keyboard . Hes no revolutionary. Wikileaks was just an outlet for his ego even if he himself thought otherwise. He wasnt doing it for the good of humanity. Hes not by any accounts a particularly nice or humanitarian man by nature.

Having said that I dont deny the US would probably like to see something -happen- to him but if one is going to do what Assange did then one has to stand with dignity and face the oppressors and not go running to the sanctity of a corrupt egomaniacal populist who is trying to shut down the free press in his country. The irony.
4 Boovis (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 07:40 am Report abuse
@3 Completely agree.
5 ElaineB (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 09:16 am Report abuse
@3 Also agree. Pretty much all the people at Wikileaks can't stand him now and the people he stiffed over bail money are finally seeing the light. He is a fame-whore.

Just one other point. I have posted here before that I do not agree that all information held by our governments should be made available to the general public. Diplomacy by its very nature is carried out quietly, behind the scenes and confidentially. The problem with revealing all information is that anyone can see it. Friend or foe.
6 agent999 (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 09:57 am Report abuse
@5
A form of diplomacy that Argentina has yet to learn
7 ChrisR (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 10:57 am Report abuse
One nutter dies (or will soon) and another takes his place: welcome to South America.
8 XAVIERV (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 11:08 am Report abuse
Buen Dia Argentina!!
Meteorite fell in Russia and left 500 injured. If you reach a meteorite falling largest islands produce 3,000 victims .. That danger, no?
9 reality check (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 11:39 am Report abuse
Wow, comparing this egomaniac with Chaves. Stand by to watch his head explode!
10 Boovis (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 12:14 pm Report abuse
@8: quite simply: no.
11 Redrow (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 12:36 pm Report abuse
@8 Xav

Are you sure that you are a Maths teacher? Divide the Area of Argentina by the Area of the Falklands. That's how many times more likely Argentina is to be hit by a meteor than the Falklands. So good luck with that.
12 golfcronie (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 12:53 pm Report abuse
@8
Must have been educated in Argentina. Dumb a**e
13 GFace (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 02:23 pm Report abuse
@1-3. Assange put Belorus dissidents at risk just to stick it in the US's eye. That's all I need to know about him. It's not about speaking truth to power it's about speaking truth to power that doesn't shoot back or spike your drink with polonium.
14 Gordo1 (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 03:06 pm Report abuse
I lived for 6 years in Ecuador - ¡pobre Ecuador!
15 Conqueror (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 03:13 pm Report abuse
@2 I'm afraid you're wrong. It's all very well parroting “The people have a right to know.” But what “the people” know, the enemy knows. Back in '82, did we tell the people where commando/SAS raids were going in? In Iraq, why didn't we just send Saddam the battle plans? And these are just obvious things. Equally important is what you, or the enemy, knows. And the way that you, or the opposition, are thinking. How many people will die because “the people have a right to know.” It's why many things are kept secret for years. Possibly until those involved have no further connection or may even be deceased. There's stuff from the Falklands War that is only now being released!

You should read up on Assange. The facts. Not what he wants you to know. Read up about his travels. Where did the money come from? Supposedly, he funded all his legal expenses himself. And some of those lawyers cost up to £20,000 per day! Think of the “interviews” he walked out on because the interviewer asked questions he didn't want to answer. he was in it for the money and the notoriety. Just look at what the people on here say about him. Running to Correa should damn him in anyone's eyes. Why didn't he go to the Australian High Commission?
16 Captain Poppy (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 03:15 pm Report abuse
@2
I do not agree with you and I think it's a naive POV to think that everything a government does should be open to the public. I can hardly imagine that Operation Overlord would have been as successful with the full force of the Nazi's there waiting. And, without regard as to whether we should or should not have nuclear weapons, public knowledge of the launch codes would not be positive for the public to have. Nor can I think the outcomes of the “backdoor” talks between the USSR and the USA during the Missiles of October Crisis been positive. Diplomacy takes place all the time without anyone in the know, nor tdo they need to know as it happens. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, albeit naive or extreme they may be, as long as they are just that, an opinion.
FOr anyone to think that even the most transparent government in the world does not possess untold secrets are ingnorant.
17 Condorito (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 04:27 pm Report abuse
Expect Correa to do a Humala.

With a massive victory, clear mandate, no Chavez and 3 Pacific coast neighbors booming at a rate that turns Mercosur green, Mr Correa is going to turn his back on his old pals.
18 Musky (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 06:23 pm Report abuse
@2 bovis
He has a messiah complex and i doubt he would be quick to reveal secrets of his host country.
Assange is avoiding justice but it cannot be fun in his embassey cubby hole
, serving his sentence before the judgement. Good.
19 reality check (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 07:07 pm Report abuse
He can congratulate Correa in Spanish. Must be fluent in it by now.

Wonder if they will raise the subject of Assange after the election, I know what the response will be, silence!
20 Captain Poppy (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 07:14 pm Report abuse
Yeah, let's see what assange reveals about Equador over the past 6 months.
21 Anglotino (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 08:04 pm Report abuse
@17 Condorito

Yes and it is interesting that Ecuador is in the middle of boomtown. It also helps that as they use the US$ he can't manipulate the economy to the same degree that Chavez and CFK can.

He can't crank up the printing presses and run a huge government deficit.
22 agent999 (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 08:28 pm Report abuse
Maybe they now have enough money to expand their embassy in London and Assange can have his own room
23 reality check (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 08:33 pm Report abuse
Sauna and a multi gym, what a nice thought.
24 Anglotino (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 09:05 pm Report abuse
Improbable! We all the know the tunnel is costing a fortune.
25 reality check (#) Feb 15th, 2013 - 09:21 pm Report abuse
The cops have been warned to be alert if they try and bring out a vaulting horse.
26 Sussie.US (#) Feb 17th, 2013 - 03:33 am Report abuse
“trained in the USA” .............uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuujajaja
...........“trained in the USA” equals 16 trillons in DEBT
27 ChrisR (#) Feb 17th, 2013 - 02:36 pm Report abuse
Just a thought.

If Correa usurps Dead Man Not Walking, does he get to shag TMBOA.

It must be worth flunking the election if that's the case
28 ioroman (#) Feb 17th, 2013 - 08:54 pm Report abuse
22 agent999. Expanding the Ecuadorian embassy in London is as as important to Ecuador as expanding the British embassy in Quito is to GB. The process of change in South America which MercoPress calls a “populist” rather than POPULAR will continue with or without Hugo Chavez. Poor Venezuelans have gotten used to have food on their tables and roofs on their heads. Ecuadorians are getting used to have access to better health care, education and sound infrastructure. Now, any Ecuadorian student with excellent grades has access to scholarships to study at ANY elite university in the world; paid by Ecuadorian government with Ecuadorian $$, yes, the same $$ that no longer end up in the pockets of a few. When Correa took office the press tied him to the exodus of Ecuadorians, which took place in the previous decade (just like Republicans tied Obama to the rising unemployment, etc. coming as a result of the previous administration's policies) - now Ecuadorians are returning . Ecuador still has enormous challenges, this is just the beginning. That is why Ecuadorians TODAY will give Mr. Correa four more years. The change will be irreversible. The press will continue to attack him (while claiming lack of freedom of press) as an American journalist in NPR said “they are like FOX News on steroides”. What we Ecuadorians think is ALL that counts. Thanks for the good wishes.
29 Anglotino (#) Feb 18th, 2013 - 07:44 am Report abuse
@28 Ioroman

The article didn't call Correa is a populist. There is nothing wrong with a leader being popular but that is not their job though. Their job is to rule.

Sometimes ruling means doing what is UNPOPULAR!

Correa is doing a lot of great things for Ecuador. However, you should never forgive a leader's faults or ignore them. Correa doesn't accept criticism or dissident well.

The media is now LESS free. This cannot be denied. Is this a good thing for Ecuador? No.

And that is part of the problem. Correa does a lot of good but also does some bad. If Ecuadorian society is willing to accept that trade off then that is their choice. But you should always be careful. Where do you draw the line?

Would you accept the situation in Venezuela? Venezuela’s Law of Social Responsibility for media forbids transmitting news that might “cause anxiety in the public or disturb public order” or that “incites or promotes hatred or intolerance.”

Who decides what disturb public order?

Electoral rules limit air time for presidential candidates: three minutes for television, four for radio. Yet independent monitoring showed that pro-government, pro-Chávez publicity has averaged more than one hour per day in the lead up to the election.

In Argentina no one can produce an alternative inflation index.

Correa does many good things. Wealth should be spread. But when you ignore a leader's faults then they indeed have become a populist.
30 ioroman (#) Feb 19th, 2013 - 05:55 am Report abuse
29 Anglotino, thanks for the comment. The introductions reads “populist movement in Latinamerica.” The words “populist” and “popular”are used for different purposes, the first usually implies the reason for actions (buying votes?), while the other implies how those actions are perceived (taking care of needs).
Asfar as freedom of press in Ecuador, this is my take:
1. The new constitution forbids the owners of media outlets to be also owners of financial institutions. In the past decades, newspapers and TV networks had been owned by large conglomerates, becoming nothing more than their public relations departments. Quite a cozy relationship.
2. The new constitution empowers Ecuadorian citizens to sue for defamation. That is what Rafael Correa did when the editor of El Universo accused him of ordering the killing of those who died during the September 30th, 2010 coup attempt. Almost everyone who died was either a military during a mission to rescue Correa from his captors, and civilians demanding his release. El Universo used its connections to claim persecution.
3. Private media claims lack of freedom; however, when El Comercio was given access to Wikileaks pertaining to Ecuador, they decided not to disclose what could tarnish the reputations of friendly personalities. Later, El Telegrafo, a public newspaper publish them all.
Unfortunately international media tend to cut & paste what rather that investigate. The proposed Communication Law will provide some balance. Yes, El Comercio, El Universo and others will continue to enjoy the freedom to call the president: grosero, tirano, dictador, etc., the constitutions permits them to express their opinion, NOT TO DEFAME.

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!

Advertisement

Get Email News Reports!

Get our news right on your inbox.
Subscribe Now!

Advertisement