Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Rafael Correa and the future of Ecuador

Ecuador could be the next country to align with the Chavez-Castro-Morales axis. With a presidential election due on October 15, left populist Rafael Correa has an 11% lead in the polls. Here’s what the FT has to report about his political platform:

‘Mr Correa, a former finance minister, has promised to shut the US military base in Ecuador, restructure the country's external debt and renegotiate contracts with foreign investors in the oil industry such as Repsol of Spain, Brazil's Petrobras, Andes Petroleum of China and Perenco of France.’

And here’s a soundbite from a speech to a largely indigenous crowd in the town of Latacunga:

"The political and economic elites have stolen everything from us, but they cannot steal our hope," he begins, in Quichua, the indigenous language of the highlands. "We will take back our oil, our country, our future."’

In a country with one of the most uneven divisions of wealth in the world, and an explosive tradition of political street protest that has toppled three presidents in less than a decade, it is unwise to make that kind of appeal unless you really intend to follow through.

Incidentally, the Correa ticket is completed by a vice-presidential candidate rejoicing in the moniker of Lenin Moreno. The clue’s in the name, I guess.

This is the first time I have heard of these guys. The likelihood is that their politics will not be that dissimilar from their obvious role models, with all the attendant limitations .

But to the extent that the emerging radical nationalist bloc in South America generates a concrete real-word alternative to the disastrous brand of imposed neoliberalism that has so damaged the continent for more than two decades, I’m certainly interested in finding out more.

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