Following a decade in power, Rafael Correa’s decision to stand down set up a hotly contested Ecuadorian presidential election between former vice president Lenin Moreno, of Correa’s ruling Alianza Pais party, and former Guayas governor Guillermo Lasso, of the Movimiento CREO. Lasso enjoyed the support of a broad coalition, including Cynthia Viteri of the Partido Social Cristiano, and Paco Moncayo of the Izquierda Democratica, and was widely expected to ride a wave of Correa-fatigue to the presidency.
Leading pollster Cedatos released an exit poll showing Lasso besting Moreno by a 53% to 47% margin. The ruling party’s prospects looked grim. Initial returns showed Lasso with a modest lead. Then the National Electoral Council’s website “crashed”. According to official statements, it went down for 18 minutes. When the system came back online, Moreno had mysteriously turned a two point deficit into a two point margin of victory.
- Read More: Meet Guillermo Lasso, Ecuador’s Best Hope to End a Decade of Socialist Rule
- Read More: Moreno Claims Victory over Lasso by Slim Margins, Lasso Campaign Cites Irregularities, Discusses Recount
PanAm Post English editor David Unsworth recently spoke with Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal. O’Grady was one of few American journalists to write about the election, subsequent allegations of electoral fraud, and the perilous path for the future of democracy in Ecuador.
She notes, “Rafael Correa was carrying a lot of baggage, because during his ten years in power, Ecuador lost any semblance of transparency…and there are very strong allegations of a lot of corruption during his time in power, so he had a lot riding on the importance of his candidate winning that night. When Cedatos reported that exit polls showed Guillermo Lasso well ahead of Mr. Correa’s candidate Lenin Moreno, that was really troubling for the government.”
When the National Electoral Council’s website mysteriously “crashed” and Moreno suddenly took the lead, “of course the whole country felt that this was a highly suspicious occurrence” observes O’Grady.
In order to thwart the opposition narrative of electoral fraud, O’Grady suggest Correa “sparked the idea that he would go after Cedatos, accuse them of manipulating information, accuse them of creating an impression among the public that Lasso could win, and was winning, that really explains why he had his police raid the company in the weeks following the election, arrested two individuals, confiscated the computers.”
There have also been numerous instances of suspicious vote tallies and improperly counted ballots, reported by Movimiento CREO poll watchers. But, as O’Grady notes, “We’re probably not going to know what happened, we’re never going to know that, unless years from now somebody who was on the inside desides to write a tell all…but what we can say with 100% certainty is that the process was not transparent…there were many examples of fraud…the only way to sort out the problem would have been to have a full recount.”
A partial recount was conducted in Ecuador, but the opposition claimed it was woefully inadequate. The Correa regime has never been particularly favorable to transparency, nor has it been reticent to use state institutions to target or silence opposition or dissent.
She notes that during the last election cycle, an EU electoral mission criticized the Correa administration for excessive use of state resources in his reelection campaign. The EU was not invited back this election cycle.
Looking forward, O’Grady is less than optimistic on the Andean nation’s political and economic prospects.
“Ecuador needs to get its house in order, and it’s in pretty bad shape.”
She also envisions Correa’s continued influence, noting, “I would be very skeptical that Rafael Correa would not be involved in telling Lenin Moreno what he’s going to be doing.”
Yet Rafael Correa has left his successor with some serious problems.
O’Grady notes, “Rafael Correa really piled on the debt,” and created an unfavorable climate for business and investment.
“People will not go to Ecuador to invest” and [the Ecuadorian people] “are not going to be looking very good in the way that people feel about their pocketbooks,” which will present Moreno with severe public policy challenges.
O’Grady advises Moreno to break with his predecessor: “Fundamentally Ecuador has to restore the rule of law…lose its reputation as attacking the private sector, the business sector, the press…it has to restore its reputation as a place where capital would want to go and stay…basically, you are not going to get development without capital inflows in a place like Ecuador…Moreno would have to come out and say, look this is yesterday, and today, going forward, Ecuador is going to be a place where capital is welcome and well-treated.”
While the international press has often looked favorably upon Correa’s massive spending on healthcare, education, and infrastructure, they have rarely covered the massive debt that Ecuador has incurred under his watch. O’Grady adds, “Unless the country starts growing faster you’re not going to be able to pay off the debt.”
As Ecuador goes forward as a nation deeply divided, still smarting from a “highly dubious election” it remains to be seen whether Lenin Moreno will closely adhere to the policies of his mentor Rafael Correa, or tack a new course. Different institutions have issued divergent economic forecasts for the nation: with the International Monetary Fund projecting contraction of -2.7% in 2017, while the far more optimistic (and state-controlled) Ecuadorian Central Bank projects growth of 1.42%.
By Ben Jackson As the modern landscape of political news and journalism continues to trend towards entertainers as sources for news and expert opinion, the right has been more than a little disadvantaged by people such as Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, and other left-leaning news funny-men of that ilk. Milo Yiannopoulos saw a void in the market for a similar such entertainer catering instead to a right-leaning demographic audience. The self-styled “dangerous faggot” carved out his own audience and format by choosing to forgo an attempt at mirroring the entertaining talk-show format on Fox News, or an independent network, and decided instead to pioneer an original idea by making a name for himself by way of a conservative college campus speech tour punctuated by his unique brand of mischievous fun and humor. he provocatively and famously called this endeavour the “Dangerous Faggot Tour," announcing on arrival the intended dual purposes of subverting oppressive politically correct language policing, and counteracting the tendency of college campuses to be havens for leftist bias and rhetoric. Read More: Why the Fighting at Berkeley Needs to Stop Read More: Coming Soon to Your Local PC Campus: The War Against Scales Nicknaming himself and his tour in this way appears superficially to be provocative, and perhaps offensive to some as well, but it also has a deeper significance of protesting the rather homophobic and racist notion that racial and sexual minorities owe their allegiance to the Democratic Party. Milo is "dangerous" in that he launches an all-out assault on a cherished pillar of the American Left: identity politics. Many people supposed that the recent scandals regarding unearthed irresponsible statements made by Yiannopoulos about his own sexual abuse as a child, and his apparent lackadaisical attitude about it would demonize him enough to make him unpalatable to new audiences, and to lose him the support of the conservative movements for whom he has been both golden boy and champion since the Trump presidential campaign. The immediate fallout from the scandal brought with it many and severe setbacks for the provocateur, and was widely regarded as the end of his career for all intents and purposes. This despite the fact that his statements reflected the typical attitudinal patterns of sexual abuse victims, and as such should never have been a cause to his discredit in the first place. Yiannopoulos voluntarily stepped down as senior editor at Breitbart in order to spare his colleagues any guilt by association. Furthermore, he had inked a lucrative book deal with the publishers Simon And Schuster, which they subsequently revoked. The book deal had been symbolic of Yiannopoulos’ breakthrough into mainstream celebrity and the pinnacle of his commercial success. These consequences were in some ways perplexing, as the statements in question were autobiographical, and cannot in good conscience be construed as reflecting his general opinion about the age of sexual maturity. Furthermore, other statements taken from the same podcast recordings as the supposed smoking gun reaffirm a contrary, and more conventional opinion about the issue. A few months and twelve million dollars in fundraising later, Milo has reemerged to unveil a multiple-pronged attack plan for propelling himself back into action and cultural relevancy. He intends to sue original publisher Simon and Schuster, a move which is not only a symbolic gesture of his own moral victory, but would also set the precedent that it does not behoove publishers to discriminate because of political affiliation. This move comes at the same time as his announcement to self-publish the same book, and to publish a great deal of other books by other conservative and libertarian writers similarly marginalized. Rather than stopping him, Simon and Schuster have motivated him into becoming their competitor and rival. He also intends to double down on his bread and butter, and what has brought him the most notoriety thus far, which is of course his college campus lectures. This time he will be calling his upcoming tour “Troll Academy”, in order to highlight the need for dissent to counteract the overwhelmingly leftist and/or Marxist preferences of the vast majority of college faculty and staff nationwide. Yiannopoulos represents a focal point in the cultural war in North America between lovers of freedom— particularly freedom of speech at the moment— and lovers of politically correct modes of thought control and language policing. With the violent and dangerous behavior of leftist groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa, and with the looming threat that they pose to freedom of speech in the form of violently enforced censorship, America needs a champion for liberty. And so, the “dangerous faggot” has set aside his previous moniker and has appointed himself instead “The Queen of Free Speech.” Long may he reign. Or perhaps I should say “she”. In any case, the coming months are crucial and observing whether Milo's new projects sink or swim will be a good litmus test for whether the nation is ready for conservative and libertarian sympathizers as entertainers as well as informers. Ben Jackson is a dual Colombian-American citizen who was born in Bogota and grew up in the United States. He graduated from Buffalo State College in 2011 with a degree in Foreign Language Education. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in Latin American Literature at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogota. In his free time he enjoys writing poetry and practicing brazilian jiu jitsu.