Ecuador’s interrupted revolution

Wheelchair-bound president of Ecuador and his wife
Quito, May 24, 2017: Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno (R, front) arrives at the National Assembly for his swearing-in ceremony (source: dpa)
  • The new president’s first order of business is restoring economic growth and straightening out public finances
  • The financial crunch prompted the government to turn to more pragmatic policies that set the stage for closer business-state cooperation
  • The U.S. Department of Justice named Ecuador as one of the Latin American countries ensnared in a gigantic regional corruption scheme

When Rafael Correa became president of Ecuador in 2007, he was part of Latin America’s “pink tide”: the country joined a new generation of leftist governments in the Andes. Aligning with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, President Correa proclaimed a “Citizens’ Revolution”: an agenda of radical change to move away from the neoliberal economic model, eradicate poverty and corruption, liberate Ecuador from the clutches of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other foreign creditors, and usher in “21st century socialism.”

For the next 10 years, he won successive reelections even as controversies swirled around his policies and leadership. Using windfall profits from petroleum revenues, Mr. Correa drove economic growth with aggressive public-sector spending on massive infrastructure projects, much-needed social assistance and ballooning government bureaucracies. Intolerant of critics, the president cracked down on independent media, indigenous leaders and environmental activists. The 2014-2015 global downturn in oil prices was a game changer.

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