[Marxism] big left victory in Ecuador!
Dbachmozart at aol.com
Dbachmozart at aol.com
Mon Nov 27 07:47:06 MST 2006
Leftist Candidate in Ecuador Is Ahead in Vote, Exit Polls Show
Dolores Ochoa/Associated Press
Supporters of Rafael Correa celebrated in Quito after hearing he was ahead in
Sunday’s runoff election.
By SIMON ROMERO
Published: November 27, 2006
QUITO, Ecuador, Nov. 26 — Rafael Correa, an urbane economist who has rattled
nerves in Washington with plans to limit American military activities in
Ecuador and renegotiate the country’s foreign debt, seemed headed to an easy
victory on Sunday in the presidential election, according to several exit polls.
A win by Mr. Correa, 43, could bring Ecuador into a group of Latin American
nations with leftist presidents, including Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua, which
are allied with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Mr. Correa has close ties
to Mr. Chávez, whose government is prepared to offer Ecuador assistance to
strengthen its national oil company.
“Chávez must be smiling in Caracas,” said Vicente Albornoz, director of
Cordes, an economic research group here. “But what I’m more worried about is
Ecuador going through a period of conflict and instability.”
The results of the runoff election were not certain on Sunday night, though
preliminary figures pointed to a strong victory by Mr. Correa. Álvaro Noboa,
the banana tycoon who was Mr. Correa’s rival, would not accept the exit poll
results, setting the stage for days of political tension. Official results were
not expected until Tuesday or Wednesday, election officials said.
Still, several exit polls by private companies and an early count by the
nongovernmental observer group Participación Ciudadana pointed to a wide margin of
victory for Mr. Correa, who promises a “citizen’s revolution” by convening a
constitutional assembly that would diminish the influence of Ecuador’s
fractious Congress and give greater power to the president.
Three exit polls announced on Ecuadorean television and radio gave Mr. Correa
about 57 percent of the vote as opposed to 43 percent for Mr. Noboa. The wide
commercial avenues of Quito, a stronghold for Mr. Correa, were filled with
cars honking their horns as voters began celebrating on Sunday night.
Mr. Correa ran as an outsider, portraying Mr. Noboa, 56, a Bible-quoting
scion of a Guayaquil family who is Ecuador’s richest man, as someone who would use
the presidency to advance his economic interests. The race was symbolized by
insults, with Mr. Noboa describing Mr. Correa as a “devil” and a lackey of
Venezuela and Cuba.
“Noboa is a vulgar man who uses God’s name to expand his power,” said
Clemencia Pozo, 39, a street vendor here who said he voted for Mr. Correa.
Mr. Correa also spoke of his Roman Catholic faith during the campaign, but in
relatively quiet contrast to Mr. Noboa, who sank to his knees at rallies in
an attempt to connect with poor voters. Mr. Correa fiercely criticized
President Bush, calling him “dimwitted” at one point, while supporting an end to an
agreement that allows the American military to use a base on the Pacific coast
for drug surveillance operations.
In an interview, Mr. Correa said he hoped to maintain cordial relations with
the United States, where more than a million Ecuadorean immigrants live,
largely in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
“We love the American people and its government, aside from the criticism we
might have of that government,” said Mr. Correa, pointing to the war in Iraq
as an obstacle to stronger ties. Mr. Correa said he would welcome the
opportunity to shake Mr. Bush’s hand, describing him as the “representative of the
“It’s nothing personal against Bush,” he said. “I just don’t agree with his
Mr. Correa said he wanted to reconfigure Ecuador’s economy with policies
inspired by economists wary of overexposing developing countries to market forces,
like Joseph E. Stiglitz of Columbia University. Mr. Correa, who got a
doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois, added that he was no fan of
Milton Friedman, the economist who died this month and whose influential work
favored minimizing the role of government in the global economy.
Citing the example of Chile, where a state-controlled copper producer
contributes much to the country’s economic growth, Mr. Correa said he hoped to
strengthen Ecuador’s national oil company. He positioned a more nationalistic energy
policy within a regional project to strengthen ties among South American
nations, along the lines of what Mr. Chávez advocates in his “Bolivarian
“The dream of Bolívar in the 21st century is more than a dream,” Mr. Correa
said. “It’s a decision of survival.”
In the first election round in mid-October, Mr. Correa appeared to have
suffered because of his ties to Mr. Chávez. After Mr. Noboa won that vote, Mr.
Correa shifted the emphasis of his campaign to focus on domestic issues like
affordable housing and cash subsidies for the poor.
It remains to be seen how Mr. Correa will interact with Congress, which ousts
presidents with ease in Ecuador. Analysts said much would depend on how
quickly he moved to convene a constitutional assembly that would expand his powers.
Unlike Mr. Noboa, who has allies in Congress, Mr. Correa has almost none.
Equally daunting, analysts say, is Ecuador’s reliance on high oil prices to
maintain economic stability. Government spending is climbing about 15 percent a
year, compared with economic growth of about 4 percent a year, according to
private economists here, following policies that Mr. Correa pushed for during a
brief stint as finance minister.
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