Rafael Correa to teleSUR: 'We're Heading to Economic Disaster'

“I hope I am wrong, but this administration is leading the country to another crisis,” stated the former president.

In an exclusive interview for teleSUR, Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa shared his views about the current administration one year after his successor and Lenin Moreno took office, denouncing the “betrayal” of his political successor.

RELATED: 'Self-Sabotage:' Ecuador Embraces Neoliberal Reform and US Interests

Correa recalled that only a few weeks after the administration started, he acknowledged the political rupture: “They made a pact that they never mentioned to the party Alianza Pais, not even to the board, to Ecuador, for instance, the pact with the Social-Christian party, and gave the banks, the media, and everyone their share (of demands).”

But the former head of state said he later took the real measure of the “betrayal,” when members of Alianza Pais were probed on corruption charges, governing and using “political power to favor private interests” while “taking away subsidies for the poorest.” “This is the real corruption,” he added.

As for the economic policies, Correa said they were “a disaster.”

“Despite the drop of oil prices, despite losing trials in international courts, despite the devastating earthquake, we managed to recover the economy without increasing poverty and inequality in a record time.”

Quoting a recent report issued by the International Monetary Fund, Correa said the economic growth was positive with 3 percent by the end of 2013, denying Moreno's allegations that the national economy was going through a deep crisis when he took office.

However, at the beginning of 2018, the country started a recession despite the increase in oil prices. “I hope I am wrong, but this administration is leading the country to another crisis.”

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Ecuador: Correa 'Attacked' While Campaigning in Esmeraldas

Correa's life was reportedly threatened by violent opposition members who surrounded a radio station where he was being interviewed.

Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa has denounced an attack carried out on his motorcade and a building where he was being interviewed in Quininde, a city in the northern province of Esmeraldas.

RELATED: Ecuador's Referendum: Conciliation or 'Coup'?

According to a series of tweets posted by Correa and local media reports he was being interviewed at Radio Magia’s building when the individuals encircled the building and vandalized vehicles that formed part of his motorcade.

“The situation is very serious in Quininde. The radio where I was being interviewed is surrounded by people from the city council led by some people from the MPD (Popular Democratic Party), who were also in Brobón. I am sorry for the country! I embrace our beloved Quininde. Many people waited for the caravan,” Correa stated.

He also said leaders of the aggression had armed bodyguards and claimed they threatened his life and physical integrity. During an interview with TeleSUR, Correa claimed they were waiting for police protection to leave the radio station.  

Supporters of president Lenin Moreno's referendum (locally known as popular consultation) allegedly participated in the attack. In a video uploaded to multiple social media platforms, one attacker can be seen wearing a t-shirt supporting the referendum. 

"#UltimoMinuto (LastMinute) Aggression against #Ecuador former president Rafael Correa's caravan has been denounced. The radio where he was being interviewed in the province of #Esmeraldas had been surrounded. Rafael Correa confirmed the situation is serious. #ConsultaPopular2018 (#PopularConsultation2018)."

Correa's caravan was vandalized by the opposition members. "@MasiRafael caravan was attacked in the city of #Quininde, in the province of #Esmeraldas."

Ricardo Patiño, one of Correa's closest allies has said "it is the national government's responsibility to provide security for a former president. That is intelligence and efficacy."   
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WikiLeaks’ Assange defies Ecuadorian warnings, will publish any evidence of corruption

Responding to comments from newly elected Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno warning Julian Assange not to ‘interfere’ in South American politics, WikiLeaks’ founder said Ecuador can be “confident” that any evidence of corruption will still be published.

Speaking at a ceremony at the Cochasqui archeological site in the Northern Andes on Thursday, President Moreno “respectfully” called on Assange “not to interfere in Ecuadorian politics, nor in the politics of its allies.”

@JulianAssange Ecuadorians can be confident that if WikiLeaks receives evidence of corruption in Ecuador it will be published.

@JulianAssange In any instance where there is a genuine legal barrier to me being the publisher I will recuse myself and my replacement will publish.

“His status does not allow him to talk about the politics of any country, let alone ours,” he said, according to CapitalNews.

In response, Assange, who is still under virtual house arrest inside Ecuador’s London embassy, sent out a series of tweets that seemed to imply he would fulfill his duty as a journalist to work in the “public interest,” regardless of the embassy’s hospitality.

He added that if there are any legal barriers to him publishing, he will find alternatives to assure that the material reaches the public.

Despite the warning, Moreno, who took office on Wednesday, also said his country “will ensure” Britain “allows the transfer of Mr. Assange to Ecuador or to the country in which he wishes to reside.”

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 in order to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sex offence allegations.

 
© Stefan Wermuth

 

Although Swedish prosecutors dropped the case last week, British police say Assange could still be arrested for breaching bail conditions, which has forced him to remain in the embassy.

If arrested, Assange fears he will be extradited to the US for leaking classified material.

Appearing on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy last Friday, Assange said there is still much to do before he can walk free.

“We have today won an important victory, but the road is far from over. The proper war is just commencing.

“The claim that the UK has the right to arrest me for seeking asylum in a case where there have been no charges is simply untenable,” Assange remarked.

“My legal staff have contacted the UK authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward,” he noted.

Assange has also pledged that WikiLeaks will carry on publishing material in the US, and even “accelerate” this process.

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Ecuador’s Moreno claims victory in presidential election, rival demands recount

Lenin Moreno, the candidate of the ruling Alianza País Party in Ecuador appears to have secured a win in the second round of presidential elections, barely beating his rival, the conservative Guillermo Lasso who thus far has refused to concede.

With 95 percent of the votes counted, Moreno is in the lead with 51.11 percent compared to 48.89 percent gained by his opponent Lasso, the country’s election commission reported. While the winner has not yet been officially announced, the government says preliminary results are 99% accurate and “irreversible” according to outgoing President Rafael Correa, who already congratulated Moreno.

READ MORE: ‘Fate of all Latin America being decided at Ecuador election’

"The revolution has triumphed again in Ecuador," Correa said on Twitter. "The right has lost, despite its millions and its media."

@MashiRafael Gran noticia para la Patria Grande: la Revolución volvió a triunfar en Ecuador. La derecha derrotada, pese a sus millones y su prensa.

Moreno urged for unity as he addressed his cheering supporters in Quito: “From now on, let's work for the country! All of us!”

While Moreno has declared victory in a close runoff, Lasso has called for a vote recount, claiming that he is the real winner of the election.

.: "Hemos ganado las elecciones, yo voy a trabajar por los que votaron por mí y por los que no lo hicieron".

“They've toyed with popular will,” Lasso said on Sunday night, demanding a recount as earlier exit polls were split and projected different winners, prompting both candidates to claim victory.

Lasso vowed to “defend the will of the people” and challenge the results, which he believes to be fabricated, having already shared on Twitter what he called an example of vote count inconsistency.

He urged his supporters to get out on the streets and protest the results, but quickly distanced himself from potential public disorder asking people not to react to “provocations” and rally in a “peaceful but firm” manner.

“Let us act peacefully but firmly. You have to go to the streets to say: DO NOT STEAL MY VOTE because we want a CHANGE in Ecuador,” he tweeted.

 

Assange's residencey in the embassy will be dictated by the outcome. © Thomas Campean

The 64-year old Moreno, who has been in a wheelchair since 1998, ran on a campaign which promised the South American country a boost in social benefits. The nominee for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize served as vice president of the country from 2007 to 2013, under President Rafael Correa.

It was Correa, serving his third presidential term, who had nominated Morena to run for the Alianza País socialist political movement in Ecuador.

His opponent Lasso, a 61-year-old former head of Banco de Guayaquil who has campaigned on creating one million jobs in four years, argues that Moreno's generous social promises risk plunging Ecuador’s economy further into debt.

The conservative has also promised to evict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the nation’s London embassy.

READ MORE: Assange ‘cordially invites’ Ecuador’s Lasso to leave country within 30 days

Meanwhile, Julian Assange has “cordially” invited the losing candidate to “leave Ecuador within 30 days” using similar language as Lasso, who earlier promised to expel the WikiLeaks founder from the Ecuadorean embassy in London should he be declared the winner.

Prior to Sunday’s vote, Lasso promised that he “will cordially ask Senor Assange to leave” within 30 days of assuming office, should he be elected. The conservative pro-business candidate said the embassy “isn’t a hotel” and that Ecuador is in no position to finance the Australian’s stay there.

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Assange ‘cordially invites’ Ecuador’s Lasso to leave country within 30 days

Julian Assange has “cordially” invited the losing presidential candidate to “leave Ecuador within 30 days” using similar language as Guillermo Lasso, who promised to expel the WikiLeaks founder from the Ecuadorean embassy in London should he win.

In the run-up to Ecuador’s presidential elections, conservative candidate Lasso promised that he “will cordially ask Senor Assange to leave” within 30 days of assuming office, should he be elected. The pro-business candidate said the country’s London embassy “isn’t a hotel” and that Ecuador is in no position to finance the Australian’s stay there.

READ MORE: Assange’s asylum status at stake in Ecuadorian presidential runoff

In a cheeky response on Sunday – after preliminary results in the second round of Ecuador’s presidential election showed that Lasso is poised to lose – the WikiLeaks founder responded using the same language.

@JulianAssange I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions) https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/848445940692377600 

“I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions),” Assange tweeted, referring to the revelations made shortly before the vote.

Last week Ecuadorean media exposed conservative candidate's financial dealings, accusing Lasso of facilitating capital flights from Ecuador and rallying the country’s business sector against the leftist Rafael Correa.

@RT_com URGENT: Ecuador’s Lenin claims victory in presidential election, rival demands recount https://on.rt.com/87nj

According to reports, Lasso had engaged the US Embassy in 2007 by briefing the American ambassador on the fight against the incumbent president Rafael Correa. Washington supported the country’s opposition and big business in their effort to oust the left-wing government, according to Assange’s organization.

WikiLeaks @wikileaks Panama off shore banking scandal in today's Ecuador presidential electionhttp://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international/325442-media-cant-ignore-financial-scandal-in-ecuadors-presidential 

Meanwhile Lasso is unwilling to concede to the leftist Lenin Moreno, who is leading him by two points with over 95 percent of the votes counted. Lasso claimed his own victory based on early exit poll results, and vowed to “defend the will of the people” and push for a recount of the official results. He also urged his supporters to get out on the streets and protest.

“Let us act peacefully but firmly. You have to go to the streets to say: DO NOT STEAL MY VOTE because we want a CHANGE in Ecuador,” he tweeted.

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Ecuador: Final Electoral Stage Shadowed by Dirty Campaign

Quito, Mar 28 (Prensa Latina) The electoral campaign in Ecuador, which will soon hold ballotage on April 2nd, is shadowed by the attacks of the right-wing against the Government and its candidates.

From March 10th to 30th, candidates of the ballotage, former deputy president of the Government Lenin Moreno, from the Movimiento Alianza PAIS, and former banker Guillermo Lasso, from CREO-SUMA, travel across the country to win the support of the voters.

Moreno and supporters defend a project to continue the advances achieved during 10 years of Rafael Correa´s management program, focused on public policies in favor of the population.

Meanwhile, Lasso suggests a program considered by many people as uncertain, proposing a change but not mentioning the mechanisms to improve wellbeing of the population and sowing doubts amid voters on the transparency of the work done by the incumbent management.

The dirty campaign of the opposition has attempted to involve electoral partner of Moreno, Jorge Glas, who runs for deputy president, in corruption actions, and has also spread unfounded rumors on fraud in the first elections, denied by the electoral authority and President Correa.

Despite the dirty campaign, opinion polls agreed on the majority support for Moreno-Glas tandem, considered by many people as the choice of the population for its program 'Toda una vida', which seeks to reduce exclusion and improve life-quality of Ecuadorians, deepening into the work carried out in the recent 10 years.

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Campaign for Second Round of Presidential Elections in Ecuador Begins

Quito, March 10 (Prensa Latina) The two candidates for the presidency of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno and Guillermo Lasso, begin today the electoral campaign that will allow them to attract votes in the face of the second round of elections, scheduled for April 2.

Until next March 30, both aspirants to the maximum position will travel throughout the national territory to present their proposals for government.

On the one hand, the ex-vice president Moreno, representative of the government Movimiento Alianza PAIS, promotes the plan Toda una vida (A lifetime), which includes five axes through which he seeks to cover all sectors of society with bonds and housing.

Accompaniment to pregnant women and newborns, promotion of entrepreneurship, especially in the youth sector, job creation and diversification of the economy, are part of the initiative.

On the other hand, the ex banker Lasso, from CREO-SUMA, promises to create one million jobs, eliminate some of the laws approved by the current executive as the Communication Law, fight corruption and an Ecuador only for Ecuadorians.

The beginning of the campaign is marked by opposition attacks against the government, its top officials, especially the vice president and aspirant to retain the position, Jorge Glas, and attempts to discredit the work of the National Electoral Council (CNE).

Despite the onslaught against the ruling party, Moreno won the first round with 39.36 percent of votes, more than 10 points above the second place, Lasso, who reached a 28.09 percent support.

Despite the margin, the ex-vice president was not declared definitive winner, for not accumulating the 40 percent required by law.

For these 20 days, both candidates have a budget of 769 thousand dollars that can be used in advertising.

According to the schedule on Sunday, March 19, there will be a national voting simulation, while the pollsters will be able to broadcast their studies until midnight on the 22nd.

From March 30 until the voting day, on April 2, a period of electoral silence will govern; a stage that according to the president of the CNE, Juan Pablo Pozo, serves to reflect and define who to vote for.

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Ecuador will hold run-off poll to choose new president

Ecuador's presidential election is set for a second round on 2 April, the electoral commission has announced.

Lenin Moreno, of the governing left-wing Pais party, fell just short of the 40% needed to win outright on Sunday.

He will fight former banker Guillermo Lasso for the top job. There had been tension after long delays in the count.

National Electoral Council President Juan Pablo Pozo blamed the delays on "numerical inconsistencies" in 5.5% of the ballots.

In past elections, official results were announced on the same night as the vote but this time counting dragged on for four days.

Final results are still not in, but with only half a percent of votes left to count, Mr Moreno, 63, cannot possibly reach the 40% needed to stave off a second round.

With 99.5% of the votes counted he had won 39.3% of the votes, against 28.1% for Mr Lasso.

The contenders

A composite picture of Ecuadorean presidential candidates Lenin Moreno and Guillermno LassoLenin Moreno (left) won more votes than Guillermo Lasso in the first round / Reuters

Lenin Moreno:

  • 63-year-old left-wing former vice-president
  • Close ally of outgoing President Rafael Correa
  • Became paraplegic after being shot in the back in 1998
  • Wants to increase employment opportunities and give all Ecuadoreans the chance to go on to higher education

Guillermo Lasso:

  • 61-year-old former banker
  • Youngest of 11 children
  • Wants to create a million jobs by promoting foreign investment and has promised to cut taxes for big companies
  • Has vowed to evict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy in London if he wins

The announcement that there would be a second round was celebrated by supporters of Mr Lasso, 61, gathered outside the National Electoral Council building.

Mr Lasso had earlier voiced concerns about the delay in counting saying it "did not smell right".

The conservative former banker says he is confident of winning the run-off with the backing of opposition candidates eliminated in the first round.

Third-placed Cynthia Viteri, who won more than 16% of the votes, has already called on her supporters to vote for Mr Lasso.

The election is being watched with interest in the region after other countries led by left-wing leaders, such as Argentina and Peru, have swung to the right in recent polls.

The winner will replace left-wing President Rafael Correa, who leaves office after a decade in power.

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