President Rafael Correa bid an emotional farewell to the citizens of Ecuador Saturday morning in his last weekly broadcast to the nation, the 523rd since he became president. He leaves office Wednesday when Lenin Moreno is inaugurated.
A crowd estimated at 20,000 crowded into Samanes Park in Guayaquil, a public project developed during Correa’s administration. The crowd would have been larger, event organizers said, except for seating limitations.
Correa recounted the accomplishments of his 10-year presidency during the three-hour program in the park bandshell, saying he was proudest of reducing poverty, improving education and health care.
He also cited improvements in infrastructure and other public works, saying they have made lives easier and richer for all Ecuadorians. Referring to Samanes Park as an example, he said, “We are in this beautiful place that was built during the Citizen’s Revolution.”
“For me, this is the end of 10 years of building a country of dignity, social justice and prosperity,” Correa said, exclaiming, “Let the work continue!”
The large crowd broke into pro-Correa chants on several occasions, and hosted signs of thanks to Correa. “Señor President, thank you for everything,” one sign read.
Although most of the event was devoted to reviewing Correa’s years in office and paying tribute to his administration and supporters, the president managed to work in several political warnings. In particular, he urged the new National Assembly not to change the controversial communications law that was recently criticized in a United Nation’s review of Ecuador’s human rights record.
Moreno has said he disagrees with several provisions of the law and will make changes.
Correa has announced plans to move to Belgium, his wife’s home country, in June. The couple will teach at a university in Brussels. Correa says he also wants to be closer to his two daughters, who are attending university in France.