All quiet on the Quito front … and what a relief it is for most Ecuadorians

Jun 21, 2023 | 9 comments

By Carlos Ortega

After months of angry charges and countercharges between President Lasso and the National Assembly, everything has turned eerily quiet in Quito. Even the noisy mouthpiece of the indigenous movement, Leonidas Iza, has dialed down the volume.

The fact is, the vast majority of Ecuadorians support Lasso’s declaration of the cross death – even though few support his presidency. Shortly after the cross death took effect, two polls showed that 73% and 75% of the population supported it and my guess is the numbers have gone up since then.

Ecuadorians were tired of the constant hooting and hollering that echoed between the presidential palace and the Assembly. They were tired of the gridlock and the lack of action to solve the country’s major problems: crime, unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and sub-standard health care and education systems.

President Guillermo Lasso speaking in May before the National Assembly.

They also were tired of the impeachment process – and both ends of it. Most people didn’t believe the charges against Lasso amounted to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” to use the English term. On the other hand, they didn’t believe he was an innocent man.

The polls and anecdotal evidence suggest that only 30% wanted the impeachment process to continue.

In addition to appreciating the political calm, Ecuadorians show little enthusiasm for the coming elections. In one poll, 57% essentially say they could care less. And why should they? It’s been only four months since the last election, and they know that after the cross death elections, in August and October, there will be another election in less than two years.

Besides sheer fatigue, Ecuadorians are mostly resolved that nothing will change after the coming election. Or the election in 2025. They have grown jaded by the idea that new ideologies — or old ones — will bring solutions and relief. They have the sense that the country’s problems reflect deep-rooted cultural issues, most prominently corruption, that cannot be fixed with a new cast of thieves.

Polling by the University of San Francisco political science faculty reveals the depth of distrust in Ecuador’s political system and its leaders, as well as prospects for change. The three leading political figures in the country, Rafael Correa, Jaime Nebot and Lasso — none of whom are on the ballot in the coming election — all have higher negative than positive ratings. Their disciples have little chance of winning control of both the presidency and the Assembly.

I include Lasso in the list only because he remains president until the end of year, after which I think he fade quickly into oblivion.

Overwhelmingly, voters say they not only want new political faces but new political movements. They are tired of the Social Christians, the Citizens Revolution and We Believe (they don’t).

Unfortunately, most of the candidates for the coming election appear to reflect the unpopular status quo — but that could change as the campaign develops. Hope springs eternal.

In the meantime, Ecuadorians can appreciate the peace and quiet for a few more months.
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Carlos Ortega is former staff writer for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. He lives in Quito.

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