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Changing perspective

Funny how time often changes our perception of things. It doesn’t necessarily change the things that happen. It’s just that information gets added on top of what we thought we knew that makes us see things differently.

Over the last few months, a lot has come out in the Ecuadorian press with regard to some pretty nasty events and scandals that ex-President Rafael Correa has been implicated in.

Now, before anyone yells “fake news,” let me say this: yelling “fake news” is not how you repudiate a story. Proving it is wrong is how you repudiate it. Okay, now that I’ve said that, let’s move on.

Correa is of course saying this is all a political smear job aimed at destroying his potential to ever set foot in Ecuador again. Not just to block him from politics, but to block him from returning.

That may be partly true, only the evidence, if ever shared with the public, will prove which side is telling the truth.

Former president Rafael Correa

Frankly, I’m willing to bet the truth will be closer to the accusations than to the denials. Because the denials have not been very convincing or focused on the issues at hand. Rather, they have been attacks on the current President. And some of them have been ridiculous.

Correa began attacking President Lenin Moreno’s disability by saying “Sometimes, people who have suffered a tragedy like the one he suffered, express their bitterness and frustration through their actions.” And that wasn’t the worst of what he said.  He followed it up with, “Moreno is a deformed man who takes out his pain on others.” Wow.  That’s quite an outrageous thing to say.  Yet it did nothing to repudiate what Correa claims are false charges.

I think what is happening here is good for the country.  If all of this corruption really did occur, and the reports of kidnapping and murder are true, then in the end this country will only be better for exposing and punishing the people involved.

But the pursuit of Correa is definitely hurting Moreno’s popularity.  His approval rating of in the upper 90’s percentile shortly after taking office has fallen to around 50% today.  Some of that is probably due to his tightening of the fiscal belt; again a good thing for the country but not something that the average person is happy about.

Anyway, back to the idea of time changing perceptions.  Correa was once revered in the country (though some will tell you he thought he was the “King,” not the President”) and the scandals that have surfaced since the end of his “reign” have tarnished his legacy.

I for one used to think quite highly of him.  When I first visited this country in 2006, the infrastructure was horrible, healthcare seemed to be non-existent, and the country seemed to just barely fall within the definition of “developing nation.”

But when I visited again in 2010 I was amazed to find how many new roads were being put in, that a new Quito airport was opening (did any of you fly into the old one? Ugh!) and that Correa had become the first Ecuadorian President to be elected to a second consecutive term since the 19th century. [Correa then went on to survive an attempted coup d’état in September of 2010.]

But things have changed a lot since 2010.  When I settled here in 2014, I still saw progress within the country and Correa had been elected to a third term.  But many of the Cuencanos I met were voicing “concerns” about Correa’s plans and the dependency of the economy on oil.  Later, concerns grew over what appeared to be Correa’s plans to run for another term as President, after he had eliminated term limits from the Constitution in 2015.  [President Moreno put forth a referendum in February of 2018 to reinstate term limits; the Ecuadorian people approved this by a 64% to 36% vote.]

Correa is now in some sense a persona non-grata in Ecuador.  And Moreno is taking a hit for trying to fix some of the problems Correa caused (or at least turned a blind eye to).

I for one hope that as time goes by, the country begins to appreciate Moreno more for what he is trying to do now.  Time and history can do that.  Jimmy Carter is a good example of that.  His approval rating was 34% when he left office.  But a poll taken 20 years later showed that 66% of Americans approved of the job he did.

I hope Moreno doesn’t have to wait that long to get better approval ratings than Correa ever had.  Because I think he is going to show us he deserves them.

I’m just saying.