Protests rattle Ecuador following election fraud claims

USA TODAYQUITO, Ecuador – Supporters of Ecuadorean opposition leader Guillermo Lasso gathered in the streets for a second night Monday to protest what they consider fraud at the ballot box that tilted a presidential runoff in favor of his leftist rival.

Sunday’s razor-thin election win by ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno bucked the trend of right-wing electoral victories in South America following 15 years of leftist domination. Even as calls from Latin American governments congratulating Moreno poured in, Lasso, a conservative banker, vowed to keep up the fight against the installation of an “illegitimate” government.

“We’re not afraid of the miserable cowards who are on the wrong side of history,” he told a crowd of a few thousand supporters outside the National Electoral Council in Quito.

By nightfall, many supporters went home but a few hundred die-hards, some with children in tow, remained in a peaceful vigil. A line of riot police looked on.

The scene was much calmer than the one on election night, when thousands of outraged Lasso supporters shouting “fraud” crashed through metal barricades to almost reach the entrance of the electoral council’s headquarters in Quito. Scuffles also broke out in Guayaquil, where tear gas was fired to break up the crowd. …

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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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