CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Wednesday April 5, 2017
Ecuadorians went to the polls last Sunday for the 2nd round of presidential elections. Former president Correa of the party Alianza Pais (AP), had been in power for 2 terms (under the new constitution) and could not present himself again. The candidate for AP, Lenin Moreno (a former VP for AP), was just short of the minimum 40% threshold required to win outright during the first round a few weeks ago, and so a 2nd round had to take place.
Correa was a big, charismatic personality - hosting a weekly TV show always held in a different town, showing him interacting with locals and showing off his government's achievements. Under his government, I saw massive infrastructure investments that transformed at least those parts of the country I know - but my contacts in Ecuador also tell me there was waste and corruption and a skyrocketing national debt.
Ecuador counts on oil exports to fund its spending, and the dramatic drop in prices have not made things easy. One measure imposed to compensate for lost revenue was a hefty import tax that did not please those who are best placed to enjoy imported products. This also created some inflationary pressures, as prices jumped. Similarly, there is an export tax on any funds sent out of the country.
The National Electoral Commission declared Lenin Moreno the victor on Monday - eliciting significant protests from Lasso supporters, who accuse the Commission of having fixed the results. Apparently, exit polls had been showing Lasso with a measurable lead over Moreno.
As I write this, I don't have a clear sense as to whether the disgruntled voters convinced that their election has been stolen will organize themselves to exert sufficient pressures on the government to respond. For the time being, I'm sensing frustration, a call to action in some quarters - but no organized response.
What does this mean for visitors to Galapagos? Based on my 20 years' experience in Ecuador, the likelihood of any disruptions are small. I have witnessed the overthrow of a few governments, the running out of the country of a president (with whom I had been meeting in his office 3 days earlier), fishermen uprisings in Galapagos - and rarely has this affected a visitor's itinerary or plans.
Our local tourism partners in Quito and in Galapagos are used to this kind of thing and know how to handle situations, should any arise. I would suspect, with all due respect to my disgruntled friends in the country, that notwithstanding a few agitated demonstrations, things will remain quiet as usual.