Will Ecuador’s Voters Reject Failed Populism?

independIt is a pity that Ecuador’s presidential election, which will be held this coming Sunday, is not attracting more international attention. It should, now that the world is witnessing the rise of populist nationalism.

For the past decade Ecuador has been governed by Rafael Correa. Like other Latin American populists, he won free elections but changed the constitutional rules so he could remain in power indefinitely through a combination of authoritarianism, fiscal profligacy, and demagoguery. However, the backlash against populism in the region and his increasing unpopularity at home forced Correa to give up his plans to run for yet another term this year. Which is why this election marks the beginning of the end of his rule.

Surveys say that 70 percent of the country calls for major changes. Although the government’s candidate, Lenin Moreno, is in the lead, he has only one-third of the vote at most, and his running mate is under serious accusations of corruption. Both Guillermo Lasso, a successful entrepreneur and banker who is in second place, and Cynthia Viteri, the Social-Christian candidate who is in third place, have a good chance of beating Moreno in the second round if Correa doesn’t rig the outcome.

Correa won the oil lottery when he came to power. As shown in an article by Gabriela Calderón that uses data put together by Pablo Arosemena and Pablo Lucio Paredes, Correa’s government has received half of all the oil revenues obtained by Ecuador since 1972, when the country began to export crude in large volumes. Despite the oil bonanza, between 2007 and 2014 the country’s rate of economic growth, about 4 percent, was very similar to that of the previous six years, when oil revenues were much more modest. …

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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.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.