The political election for President of Ecuador is an interesting contrast. It is similar to the same contrast we see in elections all over the world. A wealthy, established, businessman representing big business, vs an educated, idealistic, thinker, representing the people.
We have seen a similar pattern in elections all over the world, from Asia, Latin America, to North America. Political trends appear to be moving away from established big business interests, and more to intellectual leaders striving to make public policy in favor of the people. Thus, the movement seems to be more in a populist direction. Ecuador is an excellent example.
Candidate Noboa amassed his fortune largely by owning the fourth largest banana company in the world, which sells its bananas under the Bonita label. In July of 2002, The New York Times published a story, "In Ecuador's Banana Fields, Child Labor Is Key to Profits", that revealed the widespread use of child labor at Noboa's plantations. (Human Rights Watch also documented this.) This was just before that year's election, which Noboa eventually lost to Lucio Gutierrez.
But child labor is just the tip of the iceberg. In May of that year Noboa hired and ordered armed thugs, some concealed with masks, to attack striking workers at his Los Alomos plantation. The workers went on strike after Noboa fired union leaders following the Ecuadorian Labor Ministry's decision to legally recognize three new unions representing about 1000 banana workers - which was the fruit of months of organizing.
More recently, a 2005 government investigation uncovered that Noboa was using shell companies to skirt around labor laws. In addition, the government determined that several of Noboa's companies owed millions of dollars of back taxes. If the Ecuadorian media decides to hammer Noboa on these issues it could turn the tide of the election, especially since recent polls have him comfortably ahead of Correa.
At the same time, the media outlets (many in the U.S.) that have referred to Noboa as the "billionaire populist," might want to review his business record before blindly applying labels based on his empty campaign talk. Noboa is not a populist by any definition, and his "affection" for the poor and the masses, seems only evident, during political efforts. He has spent most of his life enriching himself.
Correa, on the other hand, was educated with a degree in finance, in the USA. He quickly moved up in Ecuador and was the minister of finace of that nation for a while. His insights into economics and finance are deep, and he understands the interplay of global economics and how it impacts a nations economic development. He has rarely been defined by the media in the USA in positive terms, possibly because of the influence of the Bush Administration. Correa has openly criticized George W. Bush, and therefore the U.S. has favored Correa's "big business" opponent.
Correa has called the U.S. president "tremendously dimwitted" and suggested that Chavez was wrong to call Bush the devil in his much publicized U.N. speech."Calling Bush the devil is offending the devil…[because] the devil is evil, but intelligent," said Correa. This negative opinion on Bush is an opinion shared by a majority of the people of Ecuador, and if polls in the USA are correct, by even a majority of people in the USA.
Correa is young, his personality is magnetic, his speaking skill is dynamic, and he will certainly bring new and younger faces into the political leadership of Ecuador. Considering that there has been continualy turn over of president's in Ecuador, perhaps it is time for young and idealistic ideas.
The Presidential contest in Ecuador illustrates the philosophical contest that is going on throughout the world. A very funny song that will make you laugh, with pointed ideas is at: www.nealgladstone.com/wd/ng/Liberal_Video.asp
The question the world is facing, in elections all over the world, is this: CAN IDEALISM, IDEAS, AND POPULIST LEADERSHIP OVERCOME THE INFLUENCE AND POWER OF BIG MONEY, BIG CORPORATE INFLUENCE AND OLD POLITICAL TRICKS? Can it happen in Ecuador? Can it happen in Korea? Can it happen in Mongolia? Can it happen in Mexico? Can it even happen in the USA? STAY TUNED. We will soon see if the "Connected Global Generation" has found it's political wings and political power.