Ecuador's Election Shows Why Left Continues Winning in Hard Times
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa celebratesin Quito, the nation's capital. (Photo: Reuters)
When I met Correa, he had just decided to run for President. I liked him, judged him as smart, honest, and idealistic. Just what Ecuador and Latin Americ needs. He has made huge progress rooting out corruption, and bringing real progress to Ecuador. This article is of interest and I share it with you. Ben Boothe Sr.
Friday 01 May 2009
by: Mark Weisbrot Visit article original @ The Guardian UK
Washington's foreign policy establishment has been proven wrong. Latin America is more stable and democratic than ever.
A few months ago I ran into an economist who was formerly head of the Bolivian Central Bank in the La Paz airport. He had been reading Roubini, the New York University economist whom the media has nicknamed "Dr. Doom", and was predicting a very gloomy economic future for the hemisphere, the region, and especially his own country.
I didn't agree about Bolivia, which has more international reserves relative to its economy than China. But it was striking to see the same thing in all the countries that I visited: opposition economists and political leaders everywhere reminded me of communists in the 1930s, praying for the collapse of the capitalist system - in this case, somewhat ironically, so that they could rid themselves of the left governments that the voters had chosen in Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador and elsewhere.
In all of these countries the vast majority of the mass media, to varying degrees, shares the opposition's agenda and in many cases appears willing to present an overly pessimistic or even catastrophic scenario in order to help advance the cause.
But despite the worsening of the world and regional economy, the left keeps winning in Latin America. The latest left victory was that of President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, an economist who was first elected at the end of 2006 and was re-elected last Sunday under a new constitution. This gives the charismatic 46 year-old four more years, and he can be re-elected once more for another term.
There are a number of reasons that most Ecuadorians might stick with their president, despite what they hear on the TV news. Some 1.3 million of Ecuador's poor households (in a country of 14 million) now get a stipend of $30 a month, which is a significant improvement. Social spending as a share of the economy has increased by more than 50 percent in Correa's two years in office. Last year the government also invested heavily in public works, with capital spending more than doubling.
Correa has delivered on other promises that were important to his constituents, not least of which was a referendum allowing for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution, which voters approved by a nearly two-thirds majority. It is seen as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, with advances in the rights of indigenous people, civil unions for gay couples, and a novel provision of rights for nature. The latter would apparently allow for lawsuits on the basis of damage to an ecosystem.
Many thought Correa was joking when he said during his presidential campaign that he would be willing to keep the U.S. military base at Manta if Washington would allow Ecuadorian troops to be stationed in Florida. But he wasn't, and the base is scheduled to close later this year. He also resisted pressure from the U.S. Congress and others in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit that Ecuadorian courts will decide, in which Chevron is accused of dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil in Ecuador. This legal action is to be pressed and moved forward. I for one have personally visited Ecuador several times and Texaco, Chevron and other American companies most certainly abused their drilling privileges and left many environmental spills as they overflowed and tried to control oil from drilling wells. Many people in Ecuador have suffered because of American practices. We wish Correa well, since he is forcing the biggest industry in the biggest nation on earth, to be accountable and do what is right.