COHA Memorandum to the Press - Ecuadorean Elections: Correa's Most Surprising, Most Important Victory

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Council on Hemispheric Affairs

           Monitoring Political, Economic and Diplomatic Issues Affecting the Western Hemisphere

COHA Memorandum to the Press 06.64

Word Count: 1100


Ecuadorean Elections: Correa's Most Surprising, Most Important Victory

 This analysis was prepared by COHA Director Dr. Larry Birns
Monday November 27nd, 2006

  • The Pink Tide resumes its South American course
  • A major defeat for U.S. regional diplomacy
  • Malign neglect does not work when it comes to advancing genuine U.S. national interests

The astonishing comeback of Rafael Correa from what appeared to be a definitive first round defeat marks one of the most extraordinary reversals of the political fate of a South American leader within memory. Correa’s victory also represents a significant triumph for the average Ecuadorean who refused to be beguiled by Álvaro Noboa’s well-fueled, so-called populist, but splash-dash campaign. In a poor country like Ecuador, Noboa’s unparalleled expenditure of money – some of it handed out personally by him – was a hardly-concealed effort to buy an election. Meanwhile, Correa ran an issue-oriented campaign centered on alleviating the dead-end plight of the nation’s poor.

As important as any other aspect of the presidential race was that its outcome represented a stinging defeat for Washington’s Latin American policy, which already had hit rock bottom throughout the Bush presidency. Key U.S. policies like free trade, privatization and market integration, anti-drug trafficking, increased regional military presence, and the pursuit of isolating Cuba and Venezuela, were being challenged and dismissed as being irrelevant.
The White House has touted recent elections in Mexico and Peru as a sharp defeat for the “Pink Tide” movement of left-leaning governments in the Americas (Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina and, to an extent, Chile). But the more recent victories of leftist candidates Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua (after a blatant intervention scheme led by U.S. Ambassador in Managua Paul Trivelli), and now Rafael Correa in Ecuador, represent a humiliating rebuke for Washington’s chief goals.

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