Elections in Ecuador Triggers Anti-Fraud, Anti-Corruption Revolt

The Correa camp is threatened by a new set of circumstances domestic as well as regional.

As I am writing these lines, the public in Ecuador is still waiting for the result of the Presidential elections in Ecuador that took place on Sunday, February 19.

Usually election results are known immediately. This delay does not seem to be coincidental at all.

In this election several parties and candidates are running for president. One of them is Lenin Moreno, the candidate of Rafael Correa, the president who modeled his government after Hugo Chavez and has been in power since 2007. As Correa cannot run for another term Lenin Moreno is the man who would continue his legacy.

According to the vote accounts, Lenin Moreno has 39. 1 percent of the vote, followed by Guillermo Lasso, a conservative former banker with 28.4 percent. If Moreno obtains 40% of the vote and has an advantage of 10% of the votes or more over the next candidate, he can be elected president without a run off. At this point, if there is a run off there is a chance that Mr. Lasso would be in a position to win the election.

Therefore, the current delay by the electoral council seems to be related to the fact that the “Correistas” who support Moreno are trying to make sure that Moreno get the 40% necessary to avoid a second round.

However, the delay is already generating anger and protests across the country and an increasing suspicion of fraud.

In fact, suspicion of government fraud has always been there. In fact, it is believed that more than one million dead people are registered “to vote” with the intention of helping the election of Mr. Moreno. Partly because, the Correa government has seen itself as a revolutionary government. Therefore, if there is no perpetuation of power the revolution is interrupted. The use of government resources to influence elections has characterized the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA), a group of socialist leaders led by Venezuela.

Ana Mercedes Diaz, former President of the Venezuelan Electoral Council who was there as an observer, told me that top members of the Venezuelan electoral Council and the Venezuelan government were in Ecuador, most probably to help “secure” Mr. Moreno’s “victory”.

According to her testimony Ms. Diaz sought refuge in the American Embassy as she felt the Ecuadorian authorities sought to arrest her after she gave a presentation about electoral fraud and how to counteract it.

Despite, government attempts to intimidate people, street mobilization and public anger is likely to force the electoral council to accept a run off. If the council does not do that, street mobilization is likely to continue the demonstration and the situation is expected to deteriorate.

The Correa camp is threatened by a new set of circumstances domestic as well as regional.

Domestically, the scandals of corruption that swept the region also touched the Correa government, which is suspect now of receiving bribes for over 35 million dollars by the Brazilian construction company “Oderbercht”. “ Oderbercht” paid multi-million dollar bribes in a number of countries in the region in an effort to secure contracts. This information seriously compromises the Correa Government and particularly the candidate for vice-president of Mr. Moreno, Jorge Glass who is allegedly very involved in the scheme in Ecuador.

Protests in Ecuador also triggered mass demonstrations against Bolivian president Evo Morales whose ambition is to seek indefinite reelection despite that a popular referendum rejected this initiative a year ago. Speakers mentioned the fact that Morales bought a private plane, is building a new luxurious government palace and used public funds to build a museum dedicated to himself.

Corruption among governments that preach to speak for the poor and the needy seems to be intolerable to angry citizens who feel deceived and betrayed. Correa and Morales, like Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, they all claim to speak for the oppressed and the needy and all of them are involved in self-enrichment and corrupted practices..

There is an anti-corruption mood in Latin America, which is probably one of the most important revolts of our times. There is antagonism towards kleptocacy and abuse of power.

If for years, citizens of Latin America viewed the economy as the main source of problems while ignoring the deficiencies of the political and institutional system in the countries of the region, today they begin to focus on the latter. The begin to realize that many of the problems are rooted in the behavior of their leaders and the lack of transparency. This is an important development.

By the same token, In the region the left has already lost power in a number of countries, particularly in Argentina and Brazil. The defeat of the left in Brazil and Argentina and the deterioration of the Venezuelan regime seem to indicate that the left is less and less an attractive option. It is seen as corrupted and part of the problem not part of the solution.

If Moreno loses the run off on April 2, it could be an additional blow to the Latin American left. This is why the Electoral council is trying to avoid the second run.

It is extremely important that the Trump Administration send a message that fraud will not be tolerated and take the necessary measures to ensure that fair international observers participate.

Previous administrations have been soft towards this kind of attitude . Trump has a great opportunity to act differently and we hope he will. President Trump has a chance now to stand with those who suffer oppression and deception by their leaders.

But most important is that the people of Ecuador stand up to fraud and make sure they dissuade the government and the electoral council from committing fraud.

Published by The Americas Report -a project for the Center for Security Policy on Thursday February 23rd, 2017.