Official: Ecuador’s presidential election headed to runoff

The Miami HeraldEcuador’s nail-biter election is heading to a runoff after results showed ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno falling just shy of the votes needed to clench a first-round victory, officials said Tuesday.

With nearly 95 percent of all votes officially tallied, the outcome is irreversible, the National Electoral Council said.

The results ended two days of suspense as supporters of opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso took to the streets to protest what they said was an attempt at fraud to favor Moreno, President Rafael Correa’s hand-picked candidate to succeed him.

The Andean country will hold a second-round of voting April 2, an election that will be closely watched in Latin America as Moreno faces off against Lasso, a conservative former banker. The region has shifted to the right over the last 18 months as conservatives won power in Argentina, Brazil and Peru after the end of a commodities boom that had boosted leftists like Correa.

Moreno got slightly more than 39 percent of all votes in Sunday’s election…

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

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