Rafael Correa, 57, is the shadow that hangs over Sunday’s Ecuadorian election (7). He will not be able to attend, as he is convicted of corruption, but he can define the election, supporting a candidate practically unknown and who, just for having been anointed by him, is already the favorite, at least for the moment, to be the next president of Ecuador.
The absence of Correa is greater than the intention to vote for all the candidates.
The most popular Ecuadorian politician of recent decades spent ten years in power (2007-2017). His administration was marked by his populist, leftist and, over the years, increasingly authoritarian style. Charismatic, engaging, intelligent, but also uncompromising, sexist and tenacious, Correa gave political stability to an Ecuador that had gone through 4 presidents in just over a decade. Shaken by the “commodity boom”, he was able to promote structural change in the country, by transferring funds, creating a new middle class. At the same time, he has advanced against the press, against his opponents and got his hands dirty in corruption scandals.
I have made here a small summary of the moments which marked his management, in videos that can be found on youtube.com and which, perhaps, indicate his future.
Image construction. In one of his election campaign videos, “Bicicleta,” we see Correa speaking in his soft voice as he travels the country. It goes from historic Quito to modern cities like Guayaquil, walks on new roads (today we know, too expensive), stunning Andean landscapes, hospitals and conversations in Quechua with a humble indigenous family. Throughout the video, we see that your goal is to be athletic, loving, smiling, firm, and patriotic.
2. Against the press. Advances against the media were a hallmark of Correa’s leadership. Financial pressures to shut down newspapers or to force them to be sold to friendly entrepreneurs, lawsuits against journalists (some of whom are forced into exile) and scenes of public humiliation were common, as seen in this report. video, in which the then president mourns on television a copy of “El Universo”. Then he laughs: “Corrupt newspapers are not even good at packing lawyers.”
3. Against Jon Oliver. The British comedian on his American television show did a sketch to poke fun at Correa and his fury at bloggers and internet users. It was also funny that the Ecuadorian called a clown to take the stage with him. We have to remember that Oliver is a comedian … But despite that, Correa was furious and reacted fiercely, which led Oliver to dedicate a new response skit to the Ecuadorian leader.
4. Link with Hugo Chávez. Correa was very successful in getting into the popularity of the Venezuelan early in his tenure, even taking the stage with him to sing in honor of Che Guevara. However, also to move away from Chavismo when it became a dictatorial regime and began to receive international repudiation. Despite the rhetoric of 21st century socialism, Correa never really realized this idea. Today, however, Correa provides his services as an attorney assisting Nicolás Maduro and publicly defends Venezuela against the international community.
5. Promise that you will not return to politics. I don’t know if anyone believes him, but here I leave the account of a recent interview, in which Correa says he will do nothing more than “advise Arauz”, in case his godfather wins the election. Sunday (7). He even says that he doesn’t want to leave Belgium, where, in fact, he has part of the military life – his wife is Belgian and his children study in Europe. Like Evo Morales, he says he does not want to interfere in the sponsor’s political decisions. It remains to be seen.