Thursday, November 16, 2006


Surprise Victory by Left Wing Candidate in Ecuador
Economist Rafael Correa wins elections with 60% of votes

Against all forecasts made by several opinion poll companies before Nov. 26, it was Rafael Correa, a 43 year old economist that was chosen by the Ecuadorian electorate to be the president of the South American country for the next four years.
Correa is the leader of the “Christian Left” party that defeated Ecuador´s richest man, Alvaro Noboa a banana export tycoon with a fortune estimated at US$1.4 billion, Until Nov. 27, Noboa had refused to accept the election results and demanded “that votes be counted one by one”. Correa carried out graduate studies in U.S and Belgian universities and was Minister of Economy in Ecuador during 2005, and will have a hard job ahead of him since his three predecessors were either ousted from power by military coups or popular revolt.
Correa´s first post-election promises were to close a U.S military base in the country and also to scrap plans to sign a “Free Trade Agreement” with the North American nation.
During his victory speech on Sunday night, Correa stated that “the people’s victory is irreversible. I invite all Ecuadorians, even those that voted for my opponent to join our project, we are open to reaching a consensus. David has defeated Goliath.”
Correa’s speech had a surprising ending as he shouted “Always forward until victory” a phrase coined by South American left wing revolutionary , Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Correa will officially begin his term on January 15, 2007 and during his first press interview rejected that he would be a follower of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
“ I am a friend of Hugo Chavez, so what? I will be in charge , not Chavez,” said Correa.
Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez gets ready for the Dec. 3 elections with mass rallies all over Venezuela. “We will win by knockout ,” said Chavez during a speech.

Lula Da Silva´s first official state visit after being reelected as President of Brazil was to Venezuela, renamed by President Hugo Chavez, as the "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela", in honor of Simon Bolivar, one of the leaders of the 19th century's continental independence war against Spain. "I will support any candidate that proposes the same ideas as Hugo Chavez," said Lula during a speech in Venezuela, in stark contrast to his stance during the election campaigns, where he seldom mentioned the controversial Venezuelan leader. Hugo Chavez has divided the continent with his policy of intervention in the political affairs of neighboring countries. In some cases he has been successful, such as in Bolivia, where his petrodollars helped a coca farmer such as Evo Morales to win the elections and become the first Native American head of state. In other cases such as Peru, Hugo Chavez publicly gave his support to Ollanta Humala, the leader of an indigenous-nationalist movement. The other candidate, Alan Garcia, that had already been President of Peru in 1985, used this situation as his main election platform, denouncing that Chavez wanted to make the country a client state of Venezuela. Chavez replied by calling Garcia a "common thief" and promised that his country would break diplomatic relations with Peru if Garcia was elected. Finally Garcia won the election in mid July after forming a strategic alliance with the leader of a right wing coalition and since then the relation between Peru and Venezuela is not on very good terms.
Another crucial battle will be fought in Ecuador on Nov. 26 where the first round left two candidates with a chance : Alvaro Noboa a millionaire banana exporter and Rafael Correa, a left wing economist. Since Correa obtained 22,86% against Noboa´s 26,83% , the economist has decided to tone down his expressions of admiration for Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. This link was well capitalized by Alvaro Noboa, that has accused Correa of receiving funds from Chavez . " We don't want Ecuador to become another Venezuela, run by a communist such as Chavez. I am very pleased with the first round results and I am sure to win," said Noboa after the first round results were revealed. On the other hand Correa replied that "there is nothing wrong with being a friend of Chavez, or of President Nestor Kirchner of Argentina. I have never said I am close to Chavez , I will never allow any foreign intervention , be it from Venezuela, the U.S. or whatever."
"Noboa inherited all his money from his father, he has more bank checks than brain cells," said Correa. It seems that Correa learnt the lesson from other Chavez backed candidates that recently lost elections, such as Ollanta Humala (Peru) and Andres Lopez Obrador (Mexico). An Ecuadorian political expert, Wladimir Sierra, stated that Correa has distanced himself from Chavez in order to avoid defeat and is trying to win the support of the middle class. According to Sierra, Alvaro Noboa has good chances of winning on November 26.
This situation, along with the election of Daniel Ortega clearly shows a pattern where the Latin American electorate is changing its preference from the elegant, suit and tie graduates from foreign universities of the past two decades, that have not really been able to reduce the levels of extreme poverty in the continent, and instead is voting for more unconventional candidates, such as Evo Morales, (coca plantation farmer), Hugo Chavez (military officer), Lula da Silva (factory worker), Nestor Kirchner (former left wing guerrilla) or Michelle Bachelet , South America's first female head of state. Chile has a swavering attitude in its foreign relations, but it can be said that it is part of a less radical block of countries, a "Western Block", that includes Colombia and Peru that has preferred to maintain good ties with the United States, since both will receive large amounts of U.S. financial and military aid in the future, compared to the "Eastern Block" of countries formed by Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia, that want to show a more independent attitude.

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