Monday, November 12, 2012

Correa Announces Re-Election Bid, Third Term Likely

On Saturday, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa appeared at his Alianza Pais party’s national convention to announce that he will run for a third term in the country’s February 17th elections. Correa has chosen Strategic Sectors Minister Jorge Glass as his running mate over current Vice President Lenin Moreno, with the latter reportedly citing health reasons.  Apart from this, the news does not come as much of a surprise, as Correa had been widely expected to run for re-election.

While Correa has become something of a pariah amongst the international press due to his confrontational approach towards powerful media groups in the country and his pursuit of libel charges against opposition journalists, in Ecuador the president remains extremely well-liked. Domestically, he is seen as a pragmatic figure who has pursued popular redistribution policies and brought stability to the country’s traditionally volatile political landscape.  Polls put domestic support for Correa around 80 percent.

James Bosworth of Bloggings by Boz posits that the election will boil down to three main points: the economy, Correa’s strong personal appeal, and the issue of citizen security. As Bosworth notes, Correa has the advantage in the first two of these fields, and concern over rising crime is not yet strong enough to damage the president’s popularity.

A survey by Ecuadoran polling firm Cedatos shows that Correa is 32 points ahead of his closest rival, banker Guillermo Lasso. Reuters notes that Lasso faces an uphill battle in the upcoming presidential race, as the Correa camp is likely to paint him as an out of touch member of the country’s elite financial class.

Lasso may be able to combat this, however, by pointing out that he first suggested Correa’s recently-announced plan to boost monthly aid payments to poor Ecuadorans. Still, it will be difficult for Lasso to present himself as a viable alternative in the eyes of voters. The opposition candidate has challenged the president to a public debate, but Correa has so far not responded.

News Briefs

  • La Prensa Grafica reports that El Salvador’s Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) has also officially declared its candidate in upcoming presidential elections, confirming its nomination of Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren. Sanchez, an FMLN heavyweight and former guerrilla commander, will face conservative ARENA candidate Norman Quijano in the country’s upcoming February 2nd elections. With polls showing that support for the FMLN is lagging, Quijano is so far the favorite in the race.
  • Honduras’ La Tribuna reports that a new survey conducted by the country’s official statistics agency shows that nearly two-thirds (66.5 percent) of the country lives in poverty. This is five points higher than the UN Development Programme’s most recent estimate, a potential indication that poverty continues to rise in the wake of the 2009 coup.
  • The New York Times takes a look at Cuba’s declining hopes for an economic boom fueled by oil revenue, after oil exploration off its coast has found little prospects for domestic drilling. While the Cuban government has vowed to continue exploration, the country is unlikely to see oil revenue any time in the near future.
  • The Times also profiles yet another sign of increased disposable income in Brazil: a “love motel” for dogs, where owners can take their pets to breed for around $50 a session.
  • BBC Mundo on the persistent gender gap in wages in Latin America, where women continue to earn 17 percent less on average than men in the same positions.
  • The conflict over the Argentine naval ship seized by Ghana at the behest of international creditors is heating up. La Nacion reports that the crew of La Libertad brandished weapons to keep port authorities in Ghana from boarding their ship by force in order to move it.
  • Mexico has arrested 14 federal police officers accused of attempting to murder two CIA agents in August, allegedly acting on orders from the powerful Beltran Leyva Organization. According to El Universal, the men claim they were acting on orders from their superiors, and representatives of the country’s federal police force maintain their innocence.
  • The United Nations General Assembly will vote today on the membership of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC), in which the United States is competing with four Western countries for a seat. The Washington Post’s editorial board makes the case against Venezuela’s membership, arguing that “Venezuela under [President] Chavez has no place at this table.”
  • In an effort to stem an outbreak of an aggressive form of meningitis which has killed ten Chileans in the past few weeks alone, the government of Chile is implementing a mass vaccination campaign of all children under the age of five, La Tercera reports.

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