By Liam Higgins
Former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa escalated his attacks on President Lenin Moreno this week, for the first time suggesting a plan for his return to power. Moreno, who is attending United Nations meetings in New York, responded by voicing his “deep disappointment” at the behavior of his predecessor and former colleague.
“He (Correa) told me that he was going to live in Belgium and planned to stay out of politics,” Moreno said Friday in an interview with the BBC. “He said he would respect my decisions about how to run the country. That, obviously, is not happening.”
Moreno added: “He knew that my ideas differed from his on how the government should interact with the citizens. I made that clear to him from the time he asked me to run for president.”
Correa, meanwhile, continued his relentless attacks on Moreno in an interview with the AFP news agency at an education conference he was attending in Bogota, Colombia. As he has almost since he left office, Correa called Moreno a “traitor” and an “ingrate” for not honoring the policies Correa had established during his 10 years in office.
“He is destroying everything I believed in and everything I built,” Correa said. “He is insulting the Citizens Revolution and abandoning the philosophy that guided the government over the last decade.”
Correa even claims he wishes that Moreno’s conservative challenger Guillermo Lasso had won the presidential election. “At least we knew where he stood. Now, we live with a lie and complete shamelessness,” he said.
For the first time, Correa even suggested how he could regain the Ecuadorian presidency. “If he (Moreno) continues to destroy what I achieved, I may have to return to office,” he said. “This would happen through a constituent assembly. I would pay a high price in my family relationships but I believe I have a responsibility to history.” Correa’s wife has said she plans to remain in Belgium.
According to most political analysts, Correa’s boast that he could return to power is empty. “He reminds me of one of those old cartoon characters who runs off a cliff and doesn’t know it,” says Carlos Espinosa, adjunct history professor at San Francisco University in Quito. “Their legs keep moving for a few seconds before they realize they’re falling into the abyss.”
According to Espinosa, Correa represents a tragic character of almost Shakespearean proportions. “What we see from him is truly tragic but his huge ego doesn’t allow him to see it. He seems almost clueless about is happening in Ecuador and the fact that he is opposing the most popular president in the country’s history,” he says. “He doesn’t understand that the people want less government, not more, and they have rallied behind Moreno.”
Despite Correa’s sound and fury, says Espinosa, Moreno is in clear control of Correa’s future as well as Ecuador’s. “Within a matter of months, the voters will end forever Correa’s dream of returning to the presidency,” he says, referring to the public referendum Moreno plans to call. “Besides rejecting the indefinite reelection of the president, they will also undo some of the cornerstones of Correa’s plan for big government.”
If voters restore the eight-year presidency term and preclude his return to office, says Espinosa, Correa’s appeal to his hard-core supporters in the National Assembly will quickly fade away. “His only claim on their allegiance is the possibility that he might return to power. Without that, he is just another loud-mouth commentator.”
There’s one thing Espinosa says he will miss if voters shut the door on Correa. “You have to admit the battle of the presidents is great entertainment. I hate to see it go.”