The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ecuador Leftist Sees Merits of Alliance with Chavez

October 4, 2006

By Alonso Soto

QUITO, Ecuador (Reuters) - Ecuadorean presidential frontrunner Rafael Correa, sensing the poor majority relishes anti-U.S. rhetoric, is reaping the rewards of an alliance with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in the run-up to the October 15 election.

Chavez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro have already formed a left-wing triumvirate with Chavez's protege Bolivian President Evo Morales, and Wall Street is worried that Correa could bring Ecuador into the anti-U.S. club.

After Chavez labeled President Bush "the devil" at last month's U.N. General Assembly, Correa quipped that Satan should feel insulted by being compared to an intellectual inferior.

Such jibes play well in Quito where walls are scrawled with anti-U.S. graffiti and murals of Uncle Sam vomiting fire. The heavily fortified U.S. embassy is a hotspot for protests.

"I really like Chavez because he is the only leader who is able to stand up to U.S. imperialism, " said 23-year-old accounting student Marco Benitez.

Correa is daring to invoke Chavez although the Venezuelan president's vocal interference in the Mexican and Peruvian elections jinxed leftists leading the polls.

Emulating Chavez appears to be paying dividends with Correa pulling his way up from third place in polls as his rhetoric hots up.

An Informe Confidencial poll on Tuesday gave U.S-educated Correa 27 percent support in the presidential race, a lead of 10 points over his center-left rival Leon Roldos.

Many Ecuadoreans see U.S. oil companies as plundering their natural resources. Correa has made election pledges to increase state control over energy and restructure the foreign debt burden, running at 26 percent of gross domestic product.


Such moves follow Chavez, who has won huge support at home by stripping foreign firms of controlling stakes in oil projects and increasing duties on the majors.

Correa parades his friendship with Chavez and his rhetoric often echoes that of the pugnacious Venezuelan orator, praising Chavez's hero, 19th-century commander Simon Bolivar, and his vision of a united Latin America.

"A place has emerged for anti-imperialistic radicalism that can work in your favor in the election," said Felipe Burbano, a sociology professor at Quito's Latin American Facility of Social Sciences.

"This anti-U.S. message and nationalist posture has proved really successful over the last two years... Ecuadoreans like charismatic leadership like that of Chavez," he added.

Caracas has flown sick Ecuadoreans to Venezuela for treatment by Cuban doctors. Correa's opponents have accused him of taking campaign funds from Chavez, a charge Correa rejects.

Although Correa knows the merits of associating himself with Chavez, the Venezuelan president has remained uncharacteristicall y taciturn in his support for Correa.

"A direct intervention in the campaign like in Peru or Mexico could affect Correa," said Burbano.

Several people on the streets of Quito said Ecuador could not emulate Venezuela's high-spending revolution.

"I think Correa could be a great leader like Chavez, but you have to understand the two countries are very different," said 52-year-old salesman Fabian Salazar.

Chavez has managed to fund his massive social spending with oil exports of comfortably over two million barrels per day (bpd). Ecuador, with a population half that of Venezuela, exports something over a humble 300,000 bpd.

From Reuters.

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