Ecuadorian voters will have their only chance to see all eight presidential candidates on one stage tonight in Quito. Diálogo Presidencial 2017, hosted by Quito newspaper El Comercio, will be broadcast by most of the country’s television and radio stations.
The dialog comes two days after new charges of corruption were leveled at current vice president and vice presidential candidate Jorge Glas by a former energy minister charged with accepting bribes in the Petroecuador scandal. Glas is the running mate of Lenin Moreno of President Rafael Correa’s Alianza País party.
The charges, made Friday night by Carlos Pareja in a series of short videos, have dominated the campaign since then, with most opposition candidates claiming that Glas’ possible involvement in the Petroecuador scandal should be investigated and Correa maintaining that they are part of a smear campaign being waged against his government by Miami fugitives.
As part of his vice presidential duties, Glas was responsible for the operation of national oil company Petroecuador and a large construction project at its Esmeraldas oil refinery which is at the heart of the bribery scandal. “The corruption happened on his (Glas’) watch,” leading presidential contender Guillermo Lasso said on Saturday. “If he didn’t take dirty money himself, he was certainly aware that others did. This has become the biggest issue of the campaign,” he said.
Moreno and Correa have come to Glas’s defense, saying they take him at his word that he knew nothing about bribes being paid to top officials by contractors for Petroecuador. “This is nothing more than a campaign of dirty politics against this government and an attempt to influence the election by criminals and fugitives,” the president said. During his national address to the nation on Saturday, Correa warned that the opposition is “desperate” and will drop more “political bombs” on the Moreno – Glas ticket before election day.
“There is a conspiracy being orchestrated by the fugitive Isaias brothers from their mansions in Miami,” Correa said, referring to Roberto and William Isaias, who were convicted in absentia for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars during the 1999 banking crisis before fleeing to the U.S.
Pareja’s charges against Glas and Correa’s against the Isaias brothers have so far not been corroborated by other sources.
Questions for tonight’s presidential dialog have been submitted by non-profit and news organizations. The event begins at 8 p.m.