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Absolute power corrupts absolutely

People sometime ask me how long it takes me to write my column each week.  Honestly, not that long  (see, those of you who say I don’t think before I open my mouth are really closer to right about that than you thought). 

Seriously, it doesn’t usually take long because I don’t tend to sit down to write until something comes into my head with a passion.  Until something I see or hear, prompts my mind to start racing and thinking about needing to say something, either out loud or on paper.

With that said, I do sometimes let somethings simmer for a while.  In this case, for quite a while.  I’ve been pondering what to say about the situation with this country’s ex-President —Rafael Correa— for some time.  It’s been a slow burn for me.

Former president Rafael Correa

Because I’m of the belief that in politics, especially in Ecuador, much is truth, much is exaggeration and much may never have happened.  And in the case of Correa, it’s getting harder and harder to believe what he is being accused of.  I don’t mean that in terms of “I don’t believe he did that.”  I mean it in terms of. “I don’t believe he did that!”  The stuff that is coming out about his tenure as President seems to be true.  At least based on what we are being shown.  And based on what people are admitting to. So, I tend to believe that much of it is true.  And that really saddens me on a couple fronts.

First, this country has had a very tumultuous time with its democracy, and regardless of what anyone says about Correa, he had a big hand in stabilizing it.  He is the reason that Lenin Moreno, who I support and have respect for, can now operate as a democratically elected President.  Before Correa, to try to make the reforms Moreno is pursuing, a president would have been gone in a year or two, or less.  Correa made the presidency last (even if he did bribe the constituents or use political strong-arming at times).

Achieving that is a bigger deal than many of us give him credit for.  So I am giving him credit for that here.

Secondly, what we all need to remember is that this country “leap-frogged” in the years he was president.  When I came here to visit for the first time in 2006, the roads in the country were horrible, the hospital system was a disaster and the political system was laughable.

Correa changed that.  Now, did he over spend? Yes. Did he gamble on the future of the country because of his false belief that oil prices would never fall? Yes.  Did he “buy” votes by giving so much away in social programs?  Debatable, but likely true.

But he did change this country for the better.  To debate that he didn’t makes no sense.

However, did he do it corruptly?  Because that is really the question that should be considered.  And from all accounts, it looks like that not only was his administration highly corrupted, it was also criminal in its actions beyond what anyone probably assumed.

If he really was behind an attempted kidnapping of a political opponent, then he deserves any prison time he gets for that.  Because by doing that, he risked throwing this country backward.  Back to a time when Presidents lasted only months (or in one case, a day) before a coup or political scandal toppled them.  He risked taking the country he had moved forward back to time when politics in Ecuador was expected to be corrupt and unable to perform even the simplest of duties for its people.

So, while I respect him for the good things —no, great things— he did for his country, I can’t have any respect for him for the horrible things it looks like he may have been part of.

Now, only time will tell if what he is accused of really happened or not.  If time does show that he is unjustly being accused of corruption, then the pendulum of deception will swing back toward President Moreno.  And he will be the one taking this country backward to an uglier time.

But based on what I’ve read in the Spanish newspapers over the last year, I’m comfortable in my belief that Correa did what he is accused of.

And that’s really a sad ending to what should have been a great story.

I’m just sayin’.