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15/01/2010 | Ecuador's president: Smile turns to frown

The Economist Staff

In the three years since he came to office, Rafael Correa has promised that his �Christian socialism� will provide Ecuadoreans with the good life where �neoliberalism� failed. A big increase in social spending, paid for at first by a high oil price and then by defaulting on debt, brought Mr Correa popular acclaim. He steered through a new constitution and last year had himself re-elected under it. He seemed to be defying his country�s recent history, in which the previous three elected presidents had failed to complete their terms.

 

But Ecuador’s mood is changing. Mr Correa’s approval rating fell from 72% to 42% in the year to November, according to Cedatos, a pollster. It also reported that this year his was the most popular figure to be burned in firecracker-filled effigy at traditional New Year’s Eve bonfires. His government has launched a campaign for positive thinking called “Smile, Ecuador”, but nowadays the mercurial Mr Correa is given to perennial frowning and cryptic warnings of impending coup attempts. “The way he’s going, he won’t last till the end of his term” in 2013, says Fabricio Correa, the president’s elder brother, who has become a bitter foe after denying accusations of corruption.

The problems start with the economy. Oil production fell by 4.9% in the 12 months to November, as threats against foreign companies led them to cut investment. Ecuador is in its third month of frequent power cuts. That is partly because drought has cut output from Paute, the country’s biggest hydroelectric plant, which contributes 35% of total electricity. But opponents note that Mr Correa has failed to secure new investment in power generation, relying instead on importing electricity from Colombia and Peru. The government lined up a Chinese company to build a big new dam, but then balked at what the president called “unfriendly” financing conditions demanded by China’s Eximbank. This week the government signed a preliminary agreement for $1.7 billion from the bank.

To finance its budget, the government is likely to have to borrow more than $4 billion this year. Since defaulting on a third of its foreign debt in December 2008, it has scoured the world for cash, without much success. It was late in paying legislators’ salaries last month.

Mr Correa has vented his frustration on the media, which he has called his “worst enemy”. A draft media law prompted protests that it would curb free expression. Debate on this was suspended after the telecoms regulator ordered a shutdown of one of the main television stations for three days, alleging that it had caused unrest by broadcasting rumours. The bill was softened after leaders of the president’s own party reached a compromise with the opposition leaders. Mr Correa objected to this as “sickening” but the party seems set to defy him.

This week the foreign minister resigned after Mr Correa badmouthed those promoting a scheme to seek foreign aid in return for not extracting oil from a tract of rainforest which the president had previously championed. Rather than the media, it is often Mr Correa who is himself his own worst enemy.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 


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18/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
27/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House