Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Leftist candidate wins Ecuador election

The Latin American left had its fifth electoral victory of the year on November 26, when Rafael Correa, a supporter of Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez, won Ecuador's presidential run-off election with the largest margin in almost 30 years.

Correa, a former finance minister and economics lecturer, received 57% of the vote, defeating Alvaro Noboa, Ecuador's richest man, a fierce anti-communist, banana-plantation owner and advocate of neoliberal economics, and despite a slander campaign and outright bribes (including hand-outs of cash, computers and wheelchairs).

The mass mobilisation against Noboa by numerous social movements, and accusations by the New York-based Human Rights Watch and other organisations that the billionaire used child labour and strike-busting gangs on his plantations also helped to turn what looked like a close race into a rout.

Against the right-wing Christian populism of Noboa (who claimed God had sent him to defeat the "communist", "terrorist" Correa), his 43-year-old leftist rival advocated a platform for radical change — a "citizens' revolution" that promises to fundamentally change the Ecuadorian political landscape.