Leftist wins first round of Ecuador’s presidential elections

Leftist candidate Andrés Arauz has won the first round of the Ecuadoran presidential elections, coming ahead of the neoliberal candidate that was heavily backed by the US. Dennis Rogatyuk describes the complicated politics of that country with its various factions and shifting alliances that remind me a lot of Sri Lankan politics.

The first round of the Ecuadorian presidential election held on February 7 was engulfed in chaos and controversies. But it also saw the overhaul of the political map — and an end to the short-lived dominance of the country’s main neoliberal actors.

The top-placed candidate was left-winger Andrés Arauz, close to former president Rafael Correa and his “Citizens’ Revolution”: he won nearly 33 percent support and his Union for Hope (UNES) coalition became the largest force in the National Assembly. Meanwhile the alliance of the two traditional conservative parties Creating Opportunities party (CREO) and the Social Christian Party (PSC) headed by the country’s most notorious corporate banker, Guillermo Lasso, obtained less than 20 percent — a loss of more than half of its strength since 2017. Yet more surprising was the emergence of two newcomers — Carlos “Yaku” Pérez of the indigenist Pachakutik party (19.5 percent) and Xavier Hervas of the liberal Democratic Left (16 percent).

Perez is backed by US organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), both of which represent the soft face of US imperialism, seeking to prevent leftist governments from coming to power and laying the propaganda groundwork for right-wing coups.

The emergence of Yaku Pérez as a possible second-round challenger to Andrés Arauz was one of the big surprises of election night. Most liberal press dubbed him as the “new face of Ecuador’s left” and an “ecosocialist” alternative to what they consider the “authoritarian” left of Correa and Arauz.

The former leader of the ECUARUNARI indigenous organization and the prefect of Azuay province, Pérez first came to prominence during the anti-Correa protests of 2015 which opposed a range of new taxes on the superrich and the possibility of Correa’s reelection in 2017. Pérez, along with his French-Brazilian wife, the academic Manuela Picq, have traditionally been staunch opponents of the Citizens’ Revolution, going as far as supporting Lasso’s candidacy in the 2017 presidential race.

Since then, Pérez has often taken stances in support of the various right-wing forces in Ecuador and throughout Latin America. He openly backed the parliamentary coup against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff in 2016, the lawfare campaign against Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, as well as supporting the violent US-backed coup against Evo Morales in November 2019.

A closer look at Peréz’s background as an indigenous leader paints an even more sinister picture. Reports have documented his ties to the various NGOs that have for years received the financial and political backing of US-affiliated agencies such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy. He also held various meetings and negotiations with the US embassy in 2019 prior to the October uprising. Like the anti-Morales and pro-coup Bolivian NGO “Standing Rivers” and its Atlas Network–affiliated leader Jhanisse Vaca Daza, Pérez and Picq have for years attempted to portray Correa as an anti-indigenous, anti-environment leader that pursues an “extractivist” model of development.

The notorious neoconservative Elliot Abrams is on the board of the NED. He has an impressive bio when it comes to odious activities.

Abrams is arguably best known for pleading guilty to charges of withholding information from Congress concerning the Reagan administration’s role in the Iran-contra scandal—for which he was eventually pardoned by President George H.W. Bush—and for defending perpetrators of mass human rights violations during the CentralAmerican conflicts of the 1980s.

In 2019, Abrams was appointed by Trump to be special envoy to Venezuela to be the point person to help foment the ouster of its president Nicolas Maduro. The fact that he is on the board of the NED should tell you all you need to know about that organization’s commitment to promoting democracy.

Although Arauz did not win outright on the first round, which would have required 40% of the vote and a 10% lead over the second place finisher, Rogatyuk says that post-election data shows “a defeat for traditional conservative parties and the emergence of new centrist and liberal forces.”

Ben Norton writes that moves are afoot to thwart the election and drive Arauz out, not unlike the way that Evo Morales was ousted in a coup in Bolivia.

His opponents are now seeking to force a vote recount under the supervision of the OAS, while simultaneously launching a smear campaign relying on blatant disinformation to link Arauz to a Colombian guerrilla group in hopes of disqualifying him.

Arauz has accused Ecuador’s US-backed government, led by right-wing leader Lenín Moreno, of “pushing to persecute me with crude lies… blackmailing and cheating justice.” The former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who was targeted in an OAS-backed coup in 2019, has also warned that a new plot is afoot.

Just two weeks before the election, Moreno traveled to Washington, DC to meet with top officials from the US government, as well as the coup-sponsoring general secretary of the OAS, Luis Almagro.

Now, the Moreno administration’s top electoral body is openly conspiring with the second- and third-place candidates, meeting privately with them, giving them a massive public platform to call to “defeat Correismo,” and even agreeing to conduct a recount of the vote in the specific precincts where they lost.

This highly politicized recount, which has no legal basis, is estimated to take two weeks – an extraordinary length of time. The unusual process has the full backing of the US State Department, and will be overseen by the OAS, which inspired a military coup targeting Bolivia’s democratically elected socialist government in November 2019.

The head of the OAS electoral mission in Ecuador, the staunchly conservative former vice-president of Panama, was intimately involved in the US-led coup attempt against Venezuela, working closely with Juan Guaidó and the pro-Washington Lima Group.

The OAS disseminated lies about Bolivia’s October 2019 election, falsely accusing the government of fraud. Now, the Colombian government is spreading a remarkably similar series of lies about Ecuador’s election and its first-place candidate, Arauz.

Just five days after the February 7 election, amid the recount chaos, Colombia intervened directly in Ecuadorian politics. The right-wing government of President Iván Duque, who has been credibly linked to drug cartels and death squads, sent its chief prosecutor to Ecuador on an official state plane in a desperate attempt to disqualify socialist Andrés Arauz.

Note that this is the Biden state department that is seeking to undermine the election results using Trumpian tactics of demanding recounts in areas where their preferred candidate lost, because when it comes to opposing and even overthrowing leftist governments around the world, the two political parties have no problem acting in a bipartisan harmony.


  1. says

    This was inevitable. A change was already likely, and the regime’s inept mishandling of COVID-19 made a coup d’etat the only means of staying in power. Perez had far less chance of winning than Cheetolini. The main diference in Ecuador is that the US is willing to overthrow a popular and democratically elected government. Just like Bolivia.

    In 2019, there were mass protests in the streets against Moreno’s corruption and incompetence.

    In spring 2020, the regime left dead bodies in the streets for weeks and failed to get medical supplies.

    As of October, between a third and a half of Ecuadoran homes lost their main income or paid work was severely reduced. Their economy is a mess, and the US would love to force IMF money on them (along with onerous conditions).

  2. jrkrideau says

    An interesting note frow Bolivia. No to the Bolivia says “No” to the IMF

    this is the Biden state department that is seeking to undermine the election results

    And so? US foreign policy does not change with changes in administrations. Dominance of Latin America has been standard policy for roughly 200 years.

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