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Assange and Ecuador's 'traitor' president

  • 29 April 2019


Ecuadoreans have a popular expression, hacer la casita (literally, 'make the little house'); roughly it means, 'they deceived us by promising something that was not going to be fulfilled'. This is what the majority of Ecuadoreans are feeling now about president Lenín Moreno.

Moreno, whose first two years in power will be marked in May, has been busy dismantling former president Rafael Correa's 'Citizens' Revolution' — the socially radical movement that brought to Ecuador political and institutional stability and economic progress. Atilio Borón, a sociologist and political analyst, described Moreno's abandonment of the Citizens' Revolution as 'electoral fraud' and 'an embezzlement of the trust placed on him by the citizenship'.

Moreno, who served as vice president between 2007 and 2013 under Correa, has suffered a gradual erosion of popularity, due to the fact that the majority of Ecuadorians perceive that his time as president has yielded few results. On 16 April we saw the latest in a long list of street demonstrations against his administration; a protest against his tightening of economic measures, the sacking of thousands of workers, and the withdrawal of the asylum granted to Julian Assange by Correa.

After the arrest of Assange, Correa described Moreno as 'the greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history'. The decision, Correa said, was motivated by 'personal revenge' after WikiLeaks published the INA Papers corruption case in which Moreno's family was involved.

At the close of 2018, only 37 per cent of Ecuadorians approved Moreno's management — a long drop from 77 per cent in 2017, the year Moreno first took up residence at Carondelet Palace, Ecuador's government house. Different Ecuadoran surveys have registered that 70 per cent of respondents regretted having given their vote to Moreno. A survey by Ecuador's Perfiles de Opinión (Profile of Opinions) — a public opinion polling firm — revealed that 80 per cent of respondents believed the government is on 'the wrong path'.

One of the fundamental causes of Moreno's unpopularity is his brisk swing to the right. It was not until April 2018, 11 months after his administration began, that he presented his economic program, which is in fact an austerity plan aimed, among other things, at reducing the size of the state and granting tax amnesty to debtors of the treasury, especially large economic groups.

Moreno's handing over of the economy to the right became visible with the appointment in 2018 of businessman Richard Martinez as Minister of Economy