Former president Rafael Correa said Tuesday that he plans to keep up his political fight from exile despite his protege’s election defeat. He was a key presence in Sunday’s presidential election despite the fact that he wasn’t on the ballot and lives in Belgium.
He denied widespread suggestions that Andres Arauz’s loss to former banker Guillermo Lasso marked the end of “Correismo.”
Asked what his plan was now, Correa said during an interview in Mexico City where he watched the vote unfold, that he would “keep fighting” from abroad. “We were on the verge of winning the presidency and I believe that in 2025 we can win it,” said the two-time former president, who has been convicted in absentia of corruption in a campaign bribery case.
“I am afraid that in this period I am more necessary than ever in Ecuador. I understand very well the responsibility I have,” the 58-year-old added.
Correa said that Lasso’s victory was the result of “persecution” against him by the government of Lenin Moreno, his former vice president, but he extended an olive branch to the president-elect. “We will support everything that is good for the country. We will democratically oppose what we believe is bad, without lending ourselves to destabilization,” said Correa, who was in office from 2007-2017.
Asked if he would be willing to return to defend himself in court, he said: “If I go back to Ecuador, it will be to hug my mother who is 86 years old,” he said.” But my life in the medium term is in Belgium.”
Lasso on Monday announced a “true change” in Ecuador after bringing an end to an era of left-wing election victories with his defeat of 36-year-old Arauz. The conservaitve president-elect will inherit a pandemic-stricken and debt-laden economy and a political system riven by gridlock when he takes over from the unpopular Lenin Moreno next month.
Lasso faces a tough job as Arauz’s leftist Union of Hope coalition is the the largest party in parliament, while the Pachakutik indigenous movement is the second biggest.
“I think there’s a consensus on what has to be done at the health level, vaccinate as quickly as possible” against Covid-19, Correa said. “But on the social and economic side we totally disagree. Lasso’s austerity policies bankrupt countries.”
Many experts billed the election as a battle of “Correismo versus anti-Correismo” in a country bitterly divided along political lines.
Correa would have been Arauz’s running mate but for an eight-year corruption sentence. He moved to Belgium when he left office and still lives there, avoiding his prison term.