CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Saturday April 10, 2021
Ecuadorians choose a new government tomorrow
The 2nd and final round of national elections takes place tomorrow, 11 April. The choice facing Ecuadorians is between Guillermo Lasso, a former presidential candidate and senior figure in the finance sector, and Andres Arauz, the young former finance minister under the populist government of Rafael Correa.
The country faces massive headwinds. Beyond the obvious challenges posed by COVID-19, Ecuador defaulted on its loans last year. Built up over several years of very high oil prices, the oil exporting nation's national budget grew very rapidly. It reached levels no longer sustainable now that oil prices have dropped by nearly 50%.
You know things are going badly when even the left-wing Arauz's campaign promise is to "reduce national expenditures more slowly than what the other candidate promises".
Ecuadorians have seen quite a revolving door of governments over the past 25 years. From the impeached Abdala Bucaran (popularly known as the loving madman), to the chaos of dollarization in 2000, when the country abandoned is rapidly devaluating national currency, the Sucre, to the short-lived triumvirate following a military coup in 2000, and then the flight to Brazil of president Lucio Guttierez on 20 April 2005 (I was actually meeting with him in the presidential office on the 18th of April - and our meeting took place with the background chants of "Fuera! Lucio" [get out! Lucio!])...
It came as no surprise that strong (and very handsome and charming) man, Rafael Correa, with a Ph.D. in economics, was welcomed by the majority of Ecuadorians as president in 2007. Supported by high oil prices and generous loans from China, he spent liberally. But his efforts to extend term limits for presidents were thwarted. He was ousted in 2017, to be replaced by his right-hand mand, Lenin Morales. Morales, faced with catastrophic fall in oil prices did an about-face on his predecessor's populist policies and even had him impeached.
The new president will assume power on May 24th.
Just before the 1st round back in February, we asked our Ecuadorian friend, Fernando Ortiz, to share his thoughts. We posted them here.