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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"In this revolution the citizens are in charge, not capital,"

Ecuador's Correa breezes to 2nd re-election

 Quito, Feb 18 A landslide second re-election secured, President Rafael Correa immediately vowed to deepen the "citizen's revolution" that has lifted tens of thousands of Ecuadoreans out of poverty as he expanded the welfare
"In this revolution the citizens are in charge, not capital," the leftist US-trained economist said after winning 56.9 per cent of the vote yesterday against 23.8 per cent for his closest challenger, longtime banker Guillermo Lasso.
With 57 per cent of the vote counted, former President Lucio Gutierrez finished third with 6 per cent. The remainder was divided among five other candidates. Lasso conceded defeat late yesterday.
The fiery-tongued Correa has brought surprising stability to an oil-exporting nation of 14.6 million with a history of unruliness that cycled through seven presidents in the decade before him.
With the help of oil prices that have hovered around USD 100 a barrel, he has raised lower-class living standards and widened the welfare state with region-leading social spending.
The 48-year-old Correa dedicated his victory to his cancer-stricken friend President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who some analysts have suggested he could succeed as the standard-bearer of Latin America's left.
"We are only here to serve you. Nothing for us.
Everything for you," Correa told cheering supporters from the balcony of the Carondelet presidential palace yesterday shortly after polls closed.
Yet Correa has also drawn wide rebuke for intolerance of dissent and some analysts have questioned how sustainable his economic policies are. The number of people working for the government has burgeoned from 16,000 to 90,000 during Correa's current term if office, Ecuador's nongovernmental Observatory of Fiscal Policy reported in December.
Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank, called Correa's ramping up of social spending "simply applying the standard recipe for many populist governments in the region." While it succeeds in building
political support in the short term, he said, it is not clear whether it is sustainable.
And while Correa has shown himself to be the "undisputed rhetorical leader of Latin America's left" and should now see his standing enhanced there Shifter said Correa's consolidation of power have damaged Ecuador's "already precarious institutions" and he lacks the clout, the ambition
and the coffers to build a coalition that could curtail US power in the region.

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