Monday, September 27

Ecuador elects conservative Guillermo Lasso president

A conservative businessman appeared to be heading for the Ecuadorian presidency, and voters rejected the left-wing movement started by former President Rafael Correa more than a decade ago.

Ecuador’s Electoral Council did not declare a winner in the race to replace President Lenín Moreno next month, but the results published by the agency showed former banker Guillermo Lasso with about 53% of the votes and leftist Andrés Arauz with 47. %, with more than 93%. of votes counted.

Arauz had led the first round of voting with more than 30% on February 7, while Lasso reached the final by finishing half a percentage point ahead of environmentalist and indigenous candidate Yaku Pérez.

Arauz granted the choice and so did his main sponsor, Correa, who remains a force in Ecuador despite a corruption conviction while living in self-exile in Belgium beyond the reach of Ecuadorian prosecutors. Moreno was also an ally of Correa, but turned against him while he was in office.

“We honestly believed we would win, but our projections were wrong,” Correa tweeted. “Good luck to Guillermo Lasso, your success will be that of Ecuador. I only ask that you stop the legal war, which destroys lives and families. “

Correa, who oversaw an economic boom before the country suffered a slowdown starting in 2015, was sentenced in absentia last year to eight years in prison for his role in what prosecutors described as an elaborate plan that demanded millions of dollars. to businessmen in exchange for contracts for large infrastructure projects between 2012 and 2016. He describes the accusations as false charges for political purposes.

Free market policies

Lasso finished second in the previous two presidential races. It favors free market policies and Ecuador’s approach to international organizations. During the campaign, he proposed raising the minimum wage to $ 500 (€ 420), finding ways to include more youth and women in the job market, and eliminating fees for farm equipment.

“For years, I have dreamed of the possibility of serving Ecuadorians so that the country progresses, so that we can all live better,” Lasso said before a room full of supporters despite social distancing guidelines in the port city of Guayaquil. . “Today, you have resolved that this be so.”

Accompanied by his wife, María de Lourdes Alcívar, Lasso said that from the opening day on May 24 he will dedicate himself “to the construction of a national project that continues to listen to everyone, because this project will be yours.”

Despite his declared conservative position on issues like marriage equality, he vowed to accept other points of view. It was expected to arrive in the capital city of Quito on Monday.

Deep recession

Ecuador is mired in a deep recession that many fear will worsen as lockouts return due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. Ecuador has counted more than 344,000 cases and more than 17,200 deaths as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

The new president’s main task will be to “depolarize the country,” said Grace M. Jaramillo, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, whose research includes Latin America. “There will be no signs of governance if the new government does not approach and generate a platform where agreements with the (National) Assembly are possible.”

The South American nation held the elections this Sunday under strict public health measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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