Ecuador has just staged another successful democratic election—as even the Wall Street Journal now reports, based on international election observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) that have no love for the Ecuadorian party that won the election. Most of the foreign reportage on the election focuses on Julian Assange, who has taken refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London. But what are the real problems that Lenin Moreno and the people of Ecuador will face when he becomes President?
Ecuador’s oligarchs have run the country for most of its existence, crippling economic development and producing high rates of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. The neo-liberal policies that became synonymous with the “Washington Consensus” led to extreme financial deregulation and privatization that produced the typical wave of “control fraud.” The nation’s leading bankers led that epidemic of fraud by seemingly legitimate banks. The fraud epidemic led to one of the many banking crises of the late 1990s that swept through Latin America. The banking crisis drove a serious recession, led to exceptional levels of emigration from Ecuador, produced extreme political instability in Ecuador—and set the stage for the election of the reformist Rafael Correa. Correa and his supporters created the Alianza Pais (AP). Correa became president in 2007. The AP has a majority holds a majority of the seats in Ecuador’s unicameral legislature.
The election of Correa and AP supporters, and the discrediting of the oligarchs based on their economic and political malfeasance and thefts, created the political space for dramatic changes in Ecuador’s public policies that have broad support among the people of Ecuador. Hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians have “voted with their feet” to return from emigration to work and live in Ecuador. Poverty, unemployment, and inequality all fell under President Correa.