Ecuador: Election victory for the poor

leninmoreno

In the second round of the Ecuadorian presidential elections on 4 April, Lenín Boltaire Moreno (PAIS Alliance) was elected president. President Correa’s vice president Jorge Glas ran as his deputy. Moreno, 64, was Correa’s deputy between 2007 and 2013. Moreno won with 51.16% of the vote, while right-wing opponent Guillermo Lasso (Creating Opportunities), former ex-head of the Banco de Guayaquil, received 48.84% – a difference of 229,396 votes. The challenge for Moreno now is to maintain the momentum of PAIS Alliance’s successful ‘Citizen’s Revolution’.

In the General Election of 19 February PAIS Alliance maintained a legislative majority of 11 seats despite losing 26 seats in the 137 seat Chamber. It had also won a referendum prohibiting public servants from opening bank accounts in tax havens. This gives officials one year to transfer their assets. A second presidential vote was required because Moreno’s vote was just below the 40% threshold necessary to win outright in the first round, despite a 10% lead.

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Ecuador: Violent reaction against income redistribution

Never before in the history of Ecuador has the propertied elite had to concede so much to the demands of the poor. Public sector spending increased from 21% of GDP in 2006 to 44% in 2013. This is part of the Citizens’ Revolution led by President Correa and the Alianza PAIS. Spending on people has infuriated the wealthy and they want to remove the government and seize back their loot. They control most of the media and attack the government’s programme in every way, including violent demonstrations.

Taxing the rich

On 1 June 2015, Correa announced two new tax bills. One, the Wealth Redistribution Law – a progressive inheritance tax affecting the richest 2% of Ecuadorians – starts with a 2.5% tax on homes costing between $35,400 and $100,000. The highest marginal rate would be 47.5% for the family but up to 77.5% for other beneficiaries. The second bill is a real estate capital gains tax of 75%. They undermine the power of 100 elite families who have dominated Ecuador for centuries. Wealthy landowners and property developers are furious, headed by the Mayors of Quito and Guayaquil, Mauricio Rodas and millionaire banker Jaime Nebot respectively, plus the Prefect of Azuay, Paul Carrasco.

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Interview: Chevron’s legacy in Ecuador

Juan Pablo Sáenz is an Ecuadorian attorney and representative of the Amazon Defense Coalition (ADC). In 2011 the ADC secured one of the largest judicial victories in environmental litigation history, which saw oil multinational Chevron ordered to pay $9.5 billion in damages for environmental, social and health impacts caused by the operations of Texaco (which Chevron now owns) in Ecuador from the 1960s onwards. Sáenz has received numerous death threats for his role in the ADC legal team.

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Ecuador: Correa faces more challenges

President Rafael Correa in London, 28 Oct 2009

On 17 February, the Ecuadorian people overwhelmingly re-elected Rafael Correa as their president. Correa’s governing PAIS alliance took some 70% the 137 seats in the National Assembly, including six for overseas workers and three of the country’s five Andean Parliament seats Correa received 51.17% of the total vote for president, 6% more than in 2009. It was more than twice that of the runner-up, banker Guillermo Lasso (23.3%), a neo-liberal figure deeply involved in the chaos and corruption of previous governments.

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Julian Assange and Wikileaks: Ecuador defends human rights – 19 August 2012

Julian Assange

The decision by Ecuador’s President Correa on 16 August to offer diplomatic asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange exposes sharply the moral and political chasm on human rights between, on the one hand, the progressive socialist government of Ecuador and its allies in the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), and on the other, the corrupt and vicious British state.

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