Could it be another Rumble in Jungle? Or just a Kick-Ass in Quito?
President Rafael Correa has challenged a member of an opposition political party to a fistfight on national television. Shortly after the challenge was issued, the opponent, National Assemblyman Andrés Páez, accepted and said he would pay Correa’s hospital bills following the fight.
Correa issued the challenge Saturday during his weekly television broadcast to the nation.
The dispute between Correa and Páez arose last week when Páez questioned the president on the purchase of Indian-made Dhruv helicopters in 2010. The helicopters have been involved in four crashes, two of them involving fatalities, leading Ecuador last week to terminate the contract with the Indian manufacturer.
In a Tweet, Páez asked why Correa never flew in the Dhruvs. “If Dhruv helicopters were so good,” Páez asked, “why does Correa never use them for his personal travel? He has only defended their purchase! And they have turned out to be a disaster.”
In response, Correa called Páez a “swine,” “clown” and “coward,” and suggested that they fist fight to settle their differences. “I don’t want to set a bad example for children,” Correa said. “But that is how problems were solved back in the day in my neighborhood. If this swine has a problem with me, he knows where to find me and we will solve the problem.”
Correa said he doubted that Páez would respond, but he was wrong.
“Rafael Correa: Yes, I accept your challenge,” was Páez’s reply. Páez suggested that the two men engage in a verbal debate before resorting to fisticuffs. “Let’s debate before we fight so that the nation understands the issues. After that, I will teach you a real lesson.”
Páez said he would pay for Correa’s hospital bills following the fight, as well as for psychological counseling.
Páez concluded his response to Correa: “P.S. I am not writing to you in English because I want to make sure your understand my missive.” The comment is a reference to criticism Correa has received from opponents for using what they considered poor English.