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News :: Globalization
THE LEFT WOULD WIN THE ELECTIONS IN ECUADOR
10 Oct 2006
Ecuador will have presidential elections next month October 15, and election results can stimulate important political changes within the country and a significant effect in the region. According to the latest surveys, the two main candidates are, the leftist Rafael Correa (33%), and Social Democrat Leon Roldós (22%), most likely to continue on into a second round of voting. Electoral norms dictate that a winner gain over 40% of the electorate votes in addition to having a 10% lead over the next closest rival. Correa is presently close to reaching that goal.
rafael_correa.jpg
THE LEFT WOULD WIN THE ELECTIONS IN ECUADOR
By Nelson F. Núñez Vergara (*)

Ecuador will have presidential elections next month October 15, and election results can stimulate important political changes within the country and a significant effect in the region. According to the latest surveys, the two main candidates are, the leftist Rafael Correa (33%), and Social Democrat Leon Roldós (22%), most likely to continue on into a second round of voting. Electoral norms dictate that a winner gain over 40% of the electorate votes in addition to having a 10% lead over the next closest rival. Correa is presently close to reaching that goal.

Rafael Correa is a graduate of the Universities of Lovaina - Belgium and Illinois in the U.S.A., with a degree in Economics. It represents a radical branch of left with anti-systemic language. He and his main collaborators are insiders since they have been tied with the struggles of the social movements. Correa was Secretary of Economy within the government of Alfredo Palaces and resigned as a result of differences. Another key individual is Alberto Acosta, a respected Economist within academia and with solid relationships within the social and indigenous movements. Additionally, there is Retired Colonel Jorge Brito, a specialist in Intelligence, Doctrine and Military Strategy – which is the expression of a nationalistic sector of the Armed Forces and whom allied with the indigenous movement that removed former President Mahuad from power. It was precisely these individuals that insisted to the indigenous leaders on this earlier occasion, that they not endorse Lucio Gutiérrez. Correa and these other personalities are strong opponents of the Bush Administration and North American policy in the region. Correa was specifying in indicating that "My personal opinion is that Bush is an extremely limited person and remembers that I lived in the United States when Bush gained the first election, even with trap ".

Correa has not presented candidates to the National Congress because he has indicated that his first act would be to summon a Constituent National Assembly in order to initiate a process of radical change of the Ecuadorian political system. He indicates that additionally, he would modify the election system of elections, in order to avoid that “Partyarchy” capture it. He is betting on the creation of a direct representation of the urban and indigenous social sectors which are his social base. He has furthermore reiterated that he will not sign a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.A. nor would he renew the agreement to maintain the North American military base in Manta. He is clear over his relationships with leftist regimes in the region, particularly with Venezuela, with whom he hopes to have solid political and commercial agreements. He “does not ascribe to the idea that the state is what rules above all else” and has gone on to say that stimulate the productive investment, and not speculative investments that include renegotiating external debt or the possibility of declaring an unilateral moratorium. His oil policy will encompass the measures he has taken in the Ecuadorian nation and, and that represents almost 30% of its national budget. All these announcements have caused an increase in the Country Risk from 532 up to 623 points in September along with alarming the business sector, and particularly, the banking sector.

Correa is a candidate with a solid reputation amongst the people that fought in the streets against Gutiérrez, and whom are greatly displeased with all of Ecuador’s political parties (including Pachakutik). And he is not easy to attack because he is well positioned in the media. He is a young (43 years), successful professional, tied to the poorest sectors from his university times, a practicing Catholic, and with a Jacobian image, that stimulates great support in all the social sectors and regions. He cannot be called militant because he is a civilian, nor of being an extremist (their measures are now almost consensual at least in as far as the other candidates speak). Hi mannerisms and ways are firm but non aggressive and whenever the traditional politicians attack him, he only continues to gain even more support according to the surveys. Some say that is Chávez with a neck and tie - and manners -, or a young Salvador Allende. He reaffirms his position as being leftwing and defines himself as a Socialist. What is certain is that citizens still express doubt about whether he would end up betraying their promises as have all other politicians in the past. Through his campaigning, he has managed to reunite all the social movements, the so-called “forajidos”, many peoples with recent and historical indigenous backgrounds, as well as the groups within the so-called civil society, intellectuals, and sectors within the progressive Church.

The results of this election may also deepen a crisis within the indigenous movement, within which it cannot arise despite important mobilizations that they held this past March. A growing number of indigenous leaders are not in agreement with Luis Macas’s candidacy on behalf of CONAIE because they do not understand the reasons for which Pachakutik attempted to divide the leftwing vote. According to surveys, Macas would arrive at only 1%, which would mean a major political defeat for Pachakutik and a serious weakening in its negotiating abilities and representation on behalf of indigenous peoples before institutions of the state. What is certain is that CONAIE’s crisis is much greater than what has been publicly known. Furthermore, Macas’s candidacy - according to its critics - was not a collective decision on the part of the rank and file but rather, of non- indigenous interests.

At the international level, (a) Correa´s government would strengthen relations with Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, while reinforcing the Latin American block of leftwing governments. For Alan Garcia, the current President of Peru, it could imply several problems in the short term. If Correa’s policies such as renegotiating with oil companies and the implementation of a neo-liberal political policy work, this would strengthen opposition movements in Peru and could put his present economic policies in question. The situation with Colombia is already tense due to Ecuador’s refusal to participate in the Colombia Plan and the incursions that the Colombian army takes into Ecuadorian land to fight the FARC. This is in addition to the tens of thousands of refugees that have fled to Ecuador as a result of internal conflicts within its neighbor of the north.

The US Department of State indicated a few months ago that Ecuador is "under ample observation" and tried to pressure the government to become part of the Colombian conflict. Their analysts failed yet again to determine who would make up the next government of Ecuador. They believed that all had been resolved, when they denied the Pachacutik indigenous party ample space within the leftwing and sending Luis Macas as their own candidate. The fight would be between Social Democrat Leon Roldos and Cinthia Viteri on the right, who has for example, declared support for the continuing presence of North American troops in Ecuador. Now, they do not know how to face what is occurring. They already had headaches due to nationalist national policies (Hydrocarbon Law, OXY’s exit). Now, they fear that in addition, the Armed Forces’ nationalistic nuclei will strengthen, annulling any possibilities for of pressuring Correa’s government, and that the “chavismo” expand dangerously within the military.

This is how things go in the land of Rumiñahui, of Dolores Cacuango, of Fernando Daquilema and of Eloy Alfaro.

(*) Former Planning Director at CONAIE Ecuador and International Consultant in Communication and Information Systems Issues for Indigenous people. nelsonnunezvergara (at) yahoo.com

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