A five-time loser at the polls, Ecuador’s ‘Banana Baron’ plots a parliamentary coup to win the presidency

Feb 9, 2017 | 6 comments

He’s run five times for president and five times he’s come up short. But Alvaro Noboa, Ecuador’s “Banana Baron” and one of the richest men in Latin America, hasn’t given up on his dream of occupying Carondelet Palace in Quito.

Alvaro Noboa, the man who would be president.

In a Monday video posting on his Facebook page, Noboa said he will mastermind a “parliamentary coup” if his slate of candidates wins enough seats in Ecuador’s National Assembly in the Feb. 19 election.

“It doesn’t matter which presidential candidate Ecuadorians vote for,” he says. “One of them will win, but he won’t have the popular support he needs to stay in office.” If his candidates take control of the National Assembly, Naboa says, they will begin immediately making constitutional changes to put him in office.

“Once the crisis begins, the Assembly will accept the resignation of the elected president and vice president, make necessary changes to the constitution, and name me, Alvaro Noboa, the new president of the republic,” he said. “I am the man to save Ecuador.”

On Feb. 19, Ecuadorians go to the polls to vote for one of eight presidential tickets, as well as for representatives to the National Assembly.

Most analysts expect Alianza País’ Lenin Moreno, former vice president to President Rafael Correa, to lead the pack in the first round of voting, but say he will face a run-off against either Guayaquil banker Guillermo Lasso or attorney Cynthia Viteri. Almost everyone thinks the run-off will be close.

Constitutional experts quickly dismissed Noboa’s plan as cockamaney or outright illegal.

“If the Assembly did that on Naboa’s behalf, it would basically be committing an unconstitutional action and we would be practically facing a coup d’état,” constitutional lawyer Juan Francisco Guererro told El Comercio. “Even if the votes were there, that is not how you change the constitution.”

He added that Noboa’s plan of ascension to power would require lengthy legislative procedures, a referendum, and drawn-out waiting periods.

Outlandish political promises are nothing new for Noboa. In his failed election bids, he has promised those who voted for him free houses and pigs.

Noboa created a new political party, Forward Ecuadorians Forward, after his old party was stripped of its right to run in the 2017 elections because it failed to obtain five percent of the national votes in two consecutive elections.

Of his five presidential runs, Noboa came closest to winning in 2006. He won the first primary by a sizeable margin but was upset in the run-off by Correa.

Noboa is the primary owner of the Noboa family holding, which includes 144 companies in a variety of economic sectors including agriculture, transportation, banking, insurance, and manufacturing.

According to the Ecuadorian tax agency SRI, Noboa still owes $6.6 million in unpaid back taxes and has been involved in multiple legal disputes for unethical labor practices, including child labor and hiring armed thugs to violently repress labor organization within his companies.

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