Ecuador Votes 2013 

Ecuadorians go to the polls today to choose a president and members of the National Assembly. As is widely expected, President Rafael Correa appears all but certain to secure another term in office due to the opposition’s atomization and inability to coalesce around a single challenger. In spite of this fact, we urge those Ecuadorians who believe in freedom to reject Mr. Correa and vote for an opposition party.

During his 6 years in power, Mr. Correa has been able to reduce extreme poverty and has provided a dose of political stability in a country that had seen a succession of presidents and failed presidencies before he came to power. But these apparent accomplishments have come at the price of essential political, economic and social freedoms. Under Mr. Correa’s rule, the executive has greatly expanded its power and has undermined the separations of powers. Essential rights and freedoms for any liberal democracy like the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression have been under constant attack by the government and the president himself. Economic freedoms have been curtailed and the rule of law undermined –the best example of this being the modification of the country’s Constitution in 2007. In many ways, Mr. Correa’s policies and authoritarian style remind us of Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. His administration has joined the Western Hemisphere’s authoritarian bloc composed of the dictatorship of Cuba, Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela, Evo Morales’ Bolivia and, to a lesser extent, Cristina Kirchner’s Argentina.

While the reduction of poverty indices is an important outcome, nothing justifies the infringement upon basic individual freedoms and human rights. That’s why we believe Ecuadorians should reject Rafael Correa and vote for the opposition party that best suits their ideas. Why are we not making an explicit endorsement? Well, to be honest, none of the alternatives is very compelling. Mr. Correa’s strongest challenger according to most opinion polls is Guillermo Lasso from the newly formed center-right CREO coalition. Mr. Lasso, a businessman and former banker, proposes a return to a more market-friendly economic plan and respect for the rule of law. While we share his pro-market instincts, we are troubled by his involvement in previous administrations not precisely known by their adherence to liberal democratic principles. Moreover, his commitment to personal freedom is far from certain. All in all, and considering the other alternatives, if we had a vote in today’s election, we would probably –and reluctantly– cast it for Mr. Lasso’s CREO coalition.    

In the end, we urge those Ecuadorians who believe in tolerance and respect for everyone’s rights and freedoms –whether they come from the center, the left or the right, to reject Mr. Correa’s authoritarianism and vote for an alternative vision. The future of Ecuador’s democracy depends on it.