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Lenin Moreno takes a political turn to the right and says: ‘I won’t allow Ecuador to become another failed state like Venezuela’

President Lenin Moreno “pressing the flesh” at a recent event.

By Ethan Bronner and Stephan Kueffner

For WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the morning of Thursday, April 11, arrived as most others had over the almost seven years he’d lived as a refugee in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Granted asylum there in 2012, he was hiding from British authorities for jumping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape allegations and to the U.S. for publishing secret government documents. Australian by birth, Assange had been granted Ecuadorian citizenship and was therefore officially an Ecuadorian sleeping on Ecuadorian soil. He was untouchable.

That morning, at 9:27 a.m., police entered the embassy and arrested him on the bail charge. The question most have asked since is whether Assange, viewed as either a free-speech icon or a Russian-sponsored nihilist, will be extradited first to Sweden or to the U.S., where he’s just been indicted on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act. Less attention has been paid to the man who, half a world away, made the decision to expel him: Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno. As Assange spent his last night under Ecuadorian protection in London, Moreno in Quito recorded a speech throwing him out. “Ecuador is a generous country with open arms,” he began. But enough was enough. Assange had repeatedly violated international law. Ecuador could no longer offer him shelter. Later that day, Moreno called Assange a “spoiled brat” and a “miserable hacker.”

Moreno’s shift on Assange was about more than just one man’s case. It was the latest but also the most dramatic signal that Ecuador, previously linked with the authoritarian left in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, is moving in a new direction — and back into the good graces of the U.S. For Washington the expulsion was a vital step. Michael Fitzpatrick, nominated by President Trump to be the next ambassador to the country, said at his confirmation hearing four weeks earlier, “Mr. Assange does damage to our national security, and the United States will have to assess the bilateral relationship accordingly.” Now that barrier has been removed, and relations are accelerating.

Moreno accepting the congratulations of former president Rafael Correa at his inauguration in 2017.

When Moreno took office two years ago, most observers assumed he’d continue to lead the country along the path forged by Venezuela; Rafael Correa, his former mentor and predecessor, thought he’d selected a seat warmer in Moreno. Today, Correa is living in Belgium, evading charges that he had a political opponent kidnapped. With a mix of cunning and openness that blossomed after a robber shot him in the spine 21 years ago, Moreno has purged the government of those close to the former president — including his running mate, a onetime Correa aide who’s serving a jail sentence for corruption.

The Correa era, which lasted from 2007 to 2017, mixed populist largesse with propaganda and repression. Correa embarked on a string of ill-considered public works projects, including power plants, refineries, pipelines, airport terminals, and a railway. Having defaulted on $3.2 billion in bonds for political reasons in 2008, he turned to China to fund many of these projects, with plans to repay in oil shipments. Only three of the eight hydroelectric power plants Correa started building, costing a combined $3.7 billion, were on line by the time Moreno took over. In addition to cost overruns, they’ve suffered from major construction and design flaws, according to international audits, adding substance to the cloud of corruption allegations that’s gathered around them. The same goes for $3.7 billion that went to refineries, including $1.5 billion on a project that’s still a vast empty lot. In total, Ecuador owes China $6.74 billion.

Correa also created a bloated state bureaucracy, where civil servants earned almost twice what private-sector employees made on average, and took on a debt load above the legal limit of 40% of gross domestic product. Harboring Assange was an attempt to position himself as a defender of press freedom, even as Correa tried to shutter the country’s largest newspaper, El Universo, sued individual journalists for millions of dollars for alleged libel, and hit other papers and radio broadcasters with fines.

Moreno, who’s 66 and the world’s only elected head of state in a wheelchair, has established a different tone. He’s launched a national dialogue on economic and political reform, railed against corruption, and worked to restore an independent press and judiciary. He pushed through a referendum that established term limits for elected officials and set the stage for judicial reformers to replace a constitutional court so discredited that several members were under suspicion of money laundering. He reoriented the country’s economic policy, including appointing a young business leader as finance minister, which led to a decrease in yields on Ecuadorian bonds and a deal with the International Monetary Fund to restore dollar reserves and stabilize public debt. He nudged his country away from China and welcomed private investment. And he’s begun a cleanup of hundreds of oil-spill sites that had been allowed to fester for a generation while the previous government sponsored losing international litigation against Chevron Corp.

In one sense it’s unsurprising that a small, indebted Latin American country reliant on commodity cycles (oil, copper, shrimp, and bananas) has shifted to the right, as its neighbors Brazil and Argentina have done in recent years. But those countries elected conservative leaders. Moreno — whose first name, after all, is Lenin and who spent years as a member of the Marxist Movement of the Revolutionary Left — ran on what appeared to be a platform of unabashed populism. Some of those who voted for him now consider him a traitor, while many who favored his opponent embrace him. “Look around this room,” says Michel Deller, one of Ecuador’s biggest real estate developers, at a business conference that drew 250 participants to the southern city of Guayaquil in May. “Maybe two people here voted for Moreno. But most everyone at this conference is now happy he won.”

Julian Assange before Moreno turned him over to British authorities.

Among the surprised converts are members of Moreno’s own cabinet. “I didn’t expect it,” the new vice president, Otto Sonnenholzner, a 36-year-old radio host who took office six months ago, says of Moreno’s policy shift. “I saw him as part of a huge, powerful train taking us straight to Caracas.”

One person who had an indication of the coming changes was Todd Chapman, the outgoing U.S. ambassador. In 2011, after a WikiLeaks dump of secret diplomatic cables, Correa threw out U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges, who’d been exposed saying Correa seemed perfectly content with the corruption of his police chief. Over the next few years, several U.S. agencies were either expelled, including a U.S. military assistance group, or left because of a lack of cooperation from the Ecuadorian government, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and drug interdiction officers.

Days after the 2017 Ecuadorian election, Chapman was called to a meeting with the president-elect, who spoke of his strong desire to rebuild relations with the U.S. and reorient the country’s policies. The ambassador told his bosses in Washington that this was a moment to seize, urging a renewal of abandoned cooperation deals and bringing in a parade of high-level visitors. Following a trip to Ecuador last summer by Vice President Mike Pence — the first such bilateral visit since Richard Nixon’s in the late 1950s — U.S. agencies are returning to Quito. Recent guests include Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command; Mark Green, administrator of USAID; and members of the U.S. Trade Representative. Next year Ecuador will, for the first time, host Unitas, the large U.S.-led naval exercise carried out annually in Latin America.

Moreno has denounced Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro — who was known as “comrade” in Quito as recently as a year ago — and recognized U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The call for Maduro’s departure has been seen as a victory in Washington, while the arrival of more than 280,000 Venezuelan refugees in Ecuador gives the matter domestic urgency. Longtime hosts to hundreds of thousands of Colombian immigrants, Ecuadorians have generally sympathized with Venezuelans, though there’s been some backlash as the refugees are seen to strain resources and increase unemployment.

“Having a government elected on a left-wing platform in favor of American policy is really important for making it look like this is acceptable to the region and not just built up by Donald Trump’s team in Washington,” says Francisco Rodriguez, a Venezuelan who runs economic and political analysis of the region for Torino Capital in New York. Other governments whose relations with Ecuador had been cool have joined in supporting Moreno. In recent months, Quito has hosted German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, and U.K. Trade Minister George Hollingbery, who in May became the first British cabinet minister to visit the country in almost a decade.

Moreno’s own life story is full of dramatic shifts that forced him to rethink longstanding assumptions, both personal and political. Born to a schoolteacher in an Amazon hamlet on the Peruvian border with no outside road access, he attended public school in Quito and got a degree in public administration; his father became a legislator for a populist party. Moreno was at one point president of Ecuador’s chamber of tourism, which won him friendships among high-level executives, some of whom are now in his cabinet.

In an interview at the presidential palace, Moreno describes himself as a “former cafe socialist” who, until he was shot in a bakery robbery in 1998, liked to “read a lot of dialectical materialism.” After the shooting, he went through four years of searing pain and depression. When he emerged, he says, it was with a conviction that joy, jokes, and helping others were life’s salvation. He became a motivational speaker, then a scholar of the healing power of humor, and finally he was pulled into Correa’s orbit by mutual friends. Moreno had been active in left-wing circles since high school, but his first run for office was on Correa’s ticket in 2006, when he was elected vice president. In the beginning, like many, he believed in the former president. Now he says that under Correa, Ecuador was “like a frog in water slowly heating up. The frog gets used to it,” including “limits on association and speech.”

While serving as the United Nations’ special envoy for disability in Geneva starting in 2013, his perspective changed further, fueled by the distance and exposure to other systems. “I thank God for the opportunity to stop and consider other circumstances and people, to examine what happened,” he says. “My view broadened.” He made another political leap when he attended Maduro’s presidential inauguration in Venezuela that year. “I saw that these people actually didn’t produce anything,” he says. “I said to myself, This isn’t going to happen to us. I won’t allow Ecuador to become a failed society, a failed state.”

He says his turn to the U.S. is in keeping with his appreciation for democracy and human rights; although he says he has his criticisms of U.S. policies, he didn’t specify what they were. So far, Moreno has secured $10.2 billion in loans over three years from the IMF, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank, which he’ll use to fund public housing and clean water delivery, beyond the economic stabilization program.

Moreno says socialism gets one thing right: that helping those in need and pursuing economic equality are indispensable. “That’s why my government will produce with the right and distribute from the left,” he says. In the predawn chill one morning, he demonstrates what he means. After wheeling himself onto the narrow streets of Quito’s historic center, in the shadow of Ecuador’s neo-Gothic national basilica, he holds the hands of the elderly and homeless there sleeping under blue plastic tarps. His government is going to build them homes and give them dignified funerals, he says. (His aides confirm that some 200,000 units for the homeless are already being built.) After an hour, Moreno invites the homeless to breakfast in the courtyard of a nearby art museum, where aides have laid out plates of fruit and pastries along with coffee.

There he gives a Yoda-like discourse mixing philosophy and pragmatism—an event Ecuadorians are getting used to. In his talks, Moreno likes to cite disparate sources, sometimes quoting John Donne and Che Guevara in the same paragraph. At a Quito convention center in May, Moreno took the stage with his vice president and two others—a gay activist and a woman entrepreneur—and talked for half an hour without notes about what it means to reconcile different perspectives. He often discusses the mysteries of quantum physics.

His lofty words sometimes make him seem like an observer of the political scene rather than its driver, notes Simon Pachano, a political scientist at Quito’s Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, or Flacso. “Moreno’s great strength is his apparent weakness,” he says. “He places himself outside the political struggle and presents himself as someone working for the people.” Adds Santiago Cuesta, a top adviser to Moreno who’s known him for 30 years: “It’s hard to attack a man in a wheelchair.” Within days of Moreno’s call for a popular accord, a majority in Congress including opposition parties agreed to pass economic, pension, and labor reform laws and to strengthen the free press over the remainder of his term.

Ecuador’s most dogged investigative journalist, Fernando Villavicencio, offers a dissenting view. He says Moreno has eased up on repression, but to argue that the president is corrupt, he points to alleged kickbacks from Chinese construction company Sinohydro, the purchase of an apartment in Spain through an offshore shell company, and a Swiss bank account belonging to his wife. Moreno has denied the accusations and said he’ll open accounts he had while in Geneva to investigators; prosecutors have begun to review the matters.

Ana Marcela Paredes, a political scientist who used to serve as deputy chief of the country’s election council, is also not a fan. She says Moreno’s philosophical penchant consists of greeting card clichés uttered by someone who doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. During the runup to the crucial referendum, she explained to him a complex aspect of electoral law and thought he was taking notes. She later saw that he’d been doodling, Paredes says. (Moreno’s press office says it doesn’t comment on his private meetings or conversations.) Others argue that regardless of whether Moreno should be taken seriously, Ecuador, with its $51 billion national debt—representing almost half of the country’s economy, with only a decade to repay much of it—isn’t going to recover quickly.

Still, there’s a fair amount of optimism. Andrew Taunton, vice president for Ecuador Subsidiaries at Solgold, says newly identified copper deposits will go a long way in wiping out the country’s public debt. And Pablo Campana, a former tennis pro and entrepreneur who’s now Moreno’s foreign trade minister, says Ecuador’s 17 million inhabitants are at the threshold of a new era.

Moreno has committed to serving a single term, which adds to his credibility. Susan Segal, a former banker who’s president of Americas Society/Council of the Americas, which has sponsored two conferences in Ecuador in the past couple of years after staying away for eight, considers Moreno “incredibly thoughtful and pragmatic, and potentially transformational.” She draws a parallel with Chile, where Patricio Aylwin was a one-term president starting in 1990, following the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Aylwin restored key institutions, setting an impoverished country on the path to stable prosperity, she says.

Jean Cano, a press freedom activist, says that had Correa remained in power, he and other journalists would be abroad or in prison. Fabricio Villamar, a conservative member of Congress and an opponent of the president’s, puts it more poetically. “There’s no question that things have changed for the better,” he says. “You can feel the liberty in the air.”

Credit: Bloomberg,

79 thoughts on “Lenin Moreno takes a political turn to the right and says: ‘I won’t allow Ecuador to become another failed state like Venezuela’

  1. I sure hope that some correista poster doesn’t come along and ruin my “feel good”. If I ever become president, my motto will be that we will produce with the right and distribute from the left – I like that. I’ll also have the most awesome economist as my Dept. Head to make that happen.

    1. Let’s just hope that Moreno gets elected again since he is the best chance of making Ecuador better. I was going to post my own take on how glad we are than Moreno is in office but your post is the best I’ve heard in long long time. We are glad that Moreno is adamant that Ecuador will not become another Venezuela by saying .,,”This isn’t going to happen to us. I won’t allow Ecuador to become a failed society, a failed state”

      I love his quote “produce from the right and distribute from the left” because that is how the most successful countries in the world operate.

      1. “I love his quote “produce from the right and distribute from the left”
        because that is how the most successful countries in the world operate.”

        … Until the ‘producers’ in those countries get so angry at how their production is siphoned off for useless social projects that they simply stop producing any longer. Then, of course, govt takes over production and the whole country fails.

        Moral of the story: Have your “feel-good moments” with family, friends and local entertainment. When it comes to making an economy work, forget the feel-good moments; they are destructive to morality and wallets. Better to measure economic stats accurately, be an adult and make the necessary hard decisions to keep incentive and production in the direction it ought to be for long-term stability and growth.

        1. Atlas Shrugged was fiction.

          As for keeping accurate economic statistics, what’s your opinion on Moreno making INEC part of the executive branch and removing its long-held status as an independent department free of government interference?

          1. No govt department can be trusted to undermine govt itself. Perhaps you’ll see an episode or two of “reining in excessive spending/corruption/whatever” for propaganda purposes so the plebes are led to believe there are some sort of “checks and balances” built into the immoral monster called ‘govt.’ But in the long run people in govt can not and will not limit themselves. Power corrupts. The U.S. Constitution was perhaps the best attempt so far to create and rein in a ‘limited’ govt, but it has utterly and totally failed to do so. All people who wish for a return to the Constitution have not done their homework, nor have they simply looked at what has occurred over 230 years.

            1. So what’s the solution, anarchy?

              Atlas Shrugged was fiction. Better yet, it was fantasy. The author spent her entire life espousing the evils of government and the deleterious effects of any and all social services. In the end, and despite being a best selling author and a lifelong paid academic, she ended up on welfare.

              When you make such sweeping statements as “no government can be trusted”, “power corrupts”, “immoral monster”, bla bla bla, what you’re really saying is you are unwilling to look at objective data and have surrendered all decision making faculties to libertarian cliches.

              INEC has been a stalwart of unbiased statistical information that decision makers could use to create policy. Last year they published unemployment and poverty figures that the president didn’t like, so he put them under his personal direction. There’s a reason why all developed nations have an independent statistical analysis institute and there’s a reason why dictatorships never do.

              1. “So what’s the solution?”

                Hundreds of thousands or even millions of independent economic zones,
                neighborhood associations, charter cities, and other forms of
                contractual, propertarian arrangements integrated through free trade and
                the global division of labor.
                This is the only morally consistent arrangement that can work, long term.

                    1. Suppose you have competing arbitration and settlement orgs? If one of them rips off a customer or applies a heavy hand that is out-of-line, word rapidly gets around and they are out of business. Wouldn’t that be preferable to a monolithic/monopolistic org (govt) that operates poorly at all levels… and there’s little that anyone can do about it?

        2. Robert Joseph in your response to …”useless social programs….forget the feel-good moments; they are destructive to morality and wallets”.
          It is important to understand that countries like USA, Canada, England, Australia and most democratic countries have social programs. For example welfare, free education for grade 1 to 12, old age assistance, welfare, medicaid, refundable child benefits are just a few of the social programs people forget that these countries successfully have.

          Now there needs to be a balance when it comes to social programs. When government
          – starts paying their employees double what the private sector pays and
          – starts supplying housing for ALL there government employees and
          – starts controlling food prices
          – starts controlling and confiscating private business
          then the government has trouble paying for these social programs in the long term.
          I could go on and on about social programs that are overboard and far to expensive to sustain but we must remember that socialism in moderation and what the country can afford is implemented by many successful countries like US, Canada, England, Australia etc.

          Cuba pays for university education and that countries has the most educated people per capita yet the pay is so small that most of them move on to tourism where they are able to make more money.

          I totally agree with you when you say…”govt takes over production and the whole country fails.”. Successful countries let the private sector create the jobs

          1. You said, “Now there needs to be a balance when it comes to social programs. When government…”

            I agree with you. There should be hundreds of thousands of social programs, administered by hundreds of thousands of private organizations, charitable groups, churches, synagogues, mosques, and other creative ideas to take care of those who need assistance. Neighbors taking care of neighbors, in whatever way they can do it. Bravo.
            The problem is govt and it’s coercion. Get govt out of it; stop it from stealing people’s wealth, and let people put their money and ingenuity directly towards creating the best life for each other that we can.

            1. I used to be a libertarian. Then I grew past adolescence and understood why there has never been a successful libertarian civilization in the history of the human race.

              But some people never grow out of it.

              1. You used to be libertarian, then apparently you have regressed back into pushing people around and demanding they do what you want, via govt coercion.

                It requires maturity and a strong moral foundation to understand that human beings shall get along best when each is held to the same high standards of morality, integrity and voluntary cooperation.
                You’re no fool, Jason, and I’m sure that you know all of this. Yet, you speak foolishly when you advocate for govt coercion, as if that ever has been, or ever will be workable. You are also aware that giving human beings special (and immoral) powers when said humans work in the name of ‘govt’ is implicitly unworkable. You are also aware enough of the biases and weak links in human psychological nature that play directly into the malevolent hands of those who would exploit those weaknesses via immoral govt power.
                My only question is, Why do you still advocate for it?

                And BTW, libertarian understanding and fruition into public consciousness gains ground constantly. Old, backwards and horrifically destructive and murderous ideas of ‘special leaders from the ruling class’ that are ‘needed’ to run the lives of billions of normal people have pretty much run their course. As communications, economics and monetary systems evolve out of the control of the old, tired, retro behemoths that have controlled them for centuries, libertarian ideas will naturally come to the fore… because libertarian ideas are simply the natural extension of honesty, integrity and morality of the righteous, mature individual. You yourself likely run your life as an honest, integrous and morally guided man. You expect that of all the others in your life, or at least hope and encourage that to be the case. So, naturally, when all of us expect and demand the same high-quality character traits and behaviour from everyone we interact with, then we’ll have true equality under the law. And we’ll have a h*lluva lot more progressive, creative and enjoyable reality than humanity has yet created.
                No need to look to the past. Righteous equality for and by everyone is what we are all, collectively, growing up to be. It is what we are evolving toward. Ken Wilber describes it well:

                1. I didn’t regress, I outgrew adolescent fantasies. And that’s what it is, fantasy. The utopian dream that is libertarianism sounds good in a philosophy book, but it’s only possible in a world completely devoid of human nature. I live my life as an honest, integrous and morally guided man as you say, but I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone else will do the same just because I expect it. Even with so much government coercion, we cannot rid ourselves of malevolent individuals who will take advantage of the weak links in human psychological nature. Despite the threat of imprisonment, loss of property or even war, there are still individuals on the planet every day who seek to violate the rights of everyone else in pursuit of their aims. If we cannot rid ourselves of these bad actors even with the use of coercion, believing that we’ll have better outcomes through nothing more than social pressure is akin to blind religious faith.

                  You can have all the private arbitration and contract settlement organizations that you want (just another form of government), and they don’t mean diddly without a coercive body capable of enforcing their rulings. You can tear down all of the governments in the world and start from scratch, and within a year you’ll have governments again; not because someone tries to organize it from the top down but because the people will organize it from the bottom up. First it will be neighborhoods self organizing. Then they’ll recognize that it’s more efficient if they pool their efforts with other neighborhoods, becoming cities. Up and up it goes until we’re right back where we are now, only with all the pain and violence it took to get to where we already are today.

                  The ironic thing is that, like you, I do believe that a libertarian society is inevitable. However, it won’t happen until human nature changes, and that won’t happen until our entire existence on this planet changes. I envision a day when work will become completely obsolete, having been taken over by the machines we build. There will be a time when the entire notion of trading one’s labor for money that is then exchanged for goods and services will be ancient history. Everything we desire will be available whenever we want it, or at least everyone will be entitled to an equal share of the production and production will far outstrip our needs. A small percentage of individuals will be entitled to more based on contributing new ideas and innovations that improve the “machine” for everyone else, or for creating art that enriches the lives of others, but in general there will simply be no work for 99% of the human race. That will inevitably lead to the disappearance of the concept of ownership that we’ve known since the first civilizations 13k years ago. The idea of “governance” will be a technical task, also taken over by machines that make decisions based on efficient allocation of resources rather than populist political pressure.

                  Once that has been the norm for a few generations, when humans have dedicated their lives to personal pursuits rather than survival, when the majority of our time is spent with family and loved ones, or simply doing the things that we find personally enriching, human nature will naturally change. Once ideas such as poverty, hunger and fear of violence are only something we read about, it will have a tremendous effect on how our brains are wired. As there are fewer and fewer conflicts between individuals and communities, there will naturally be less and less government (and the need for coercion). Gradually the rules we implement to govern ourselves will become more libertarian just as they have for the past thousand years. I really do believe that this is the only logical outcome (unless we destroy ourselves in a horrific global war and have to start over).

                  But it will never become the hypothetical utopian world you speak of. There will still be government and there will still be coercion because no matter how evolved we become, we will always be evolved from hairless apes. Jilted lovers will still kill out of jealousy, drunks will still strike out in anger, there will still be rapists and pedophiles, people will slander and libel, some will still believe they’re hearing the voice of god and feel compelled to force everyone else to adopt their worldview (under pain of death), there will still be sociopaths and psychopaths who are incapable of peacefully coexisting with others. There will always be conflict. When those inevitable conflicts arise, we will use the social technology we created, called government, to implement the most equitable solutions. Those solutions will always require coercion.

                  But that’s centuries away (well, at least one century away). In the meantime, we continue to organize ourselves into communities, cities, nations, because we all live better when we’re organized. If you put one person naked and alone in the jungle, they’ll be dead in a month. If you put 10 people naked in the jungle, they’ll build a community and thrive. Eventually they’ll build schools for their children and a system for allocating their limited resources. That’s government. It’s what we do. It’s hardwired into us just like it is with bees. It’s why we’re so successful as a species. Sure, in its broadest definition, taxation is theft. Then again, so is private property. Meat is indeed murder but so is abortion. Eventually we will innovate technologies to make them all unnecessary, just not in my lifetime (and I’m younger than most of the people on this site). Like I said, I didn’t regress. I simply saw the world for what it is and accepted that utopian fantasies are great for novels, but they aren’t a viable system for maximizing our collective wellbeing. Even Ayn Rand came to that realization in the end.

                  1. Outstanding reply, Jason! Thanks for that.
                    Would you like to see if we can identify the good and the bad, the workable and not-so-workable of our points of view, and perhaps we can take it to a higher level?
                    If U R interested, I’m happy to do it here, or privately, or wherever you like. I am sincerely interested to plumb the depths of these possibilities, and I greatly appreciate your POV.

                    You see the possibility of technology driving a radical shift of human governance, and I see it as an evolution of consciousness that is driving the change. Probably it’s more true that both synergistically drive each other?
                    The push-pull of technology providing more free time, and more free time pushing an evolution of consciousness and expanded creativity, which pushes technology, art, environmental awareness, etc… that is happening in our lives right now already.

                    Seems to me that the antiquated system of governance we are all coerced to lived under is severely hampering the whole process. Technology, the arts, understanding and care for the Earth, all these endeavors are trying to move forward in spite of the usually very poor efforts of govt to control and regulate it. It may be that creative individuals and the technologies they create (cryptotechnologies of all kinds) will simply work around and bypass govt, leaving it in the dust. Somewhat similarly, int’l corporations are already supra-govt in many respects, and that will only increase if the current setup remains in place.
                    We seem to be in a race btw the huge potential of millions of individuals and small agile groups/corps vs cumbersome govt and large corp behemoths monopolizing and controlling human progress…

                    1. Hi Robert. Thanks for your engaging comments. I’d love to continue the conversation but I’m heading out early in the morning to an island that’s off the grid. I won’t be back until next week. There are a lot of points worthy of discussion, but I’ll leave you with what has brought me to my point of view. A life in public health has taught me one thing about people on a populational level: human nature doesn’t change until the environment changes.

                      A good example were efforts aimed at birth control. For a long time we have recognized that women who have more children at a younger age have lower standards of living for themselves and their children. For a decades billions were spent on family planning education, birth control methods, condoms and on and on it went, yet no matter how much money and technology we threw at the problem, birth rates remained the same. It was only after many years of failed programs that the data revealed a key point that everyone was missing. The only thing that leads to lower birth rates and delayed maternity is improving the living standards of women. When young girls can look forward to a career and a life of opportunities, they delay having children and they have fewer. That is the only solution that has been consistently shown to work, yet it’s far more complex than a point intervention. It requires access to education and changes in cultural norms, things that are hard to put into a single program.

                      There was a time when sneaking up on a human encampment in the dead of night to bash everyone over the head and steal their food was perfectly acceptable behavior. In fact, we’re all descended from people who did just that because they were the ones to survive and produce offspring during the hundreds of thousands of years of extreme scarcity. The moral pacifists didn’t get to pass their genes on to the next generation. We’re al direct descendants of slaves and slave owners, rapists and rape victims, conquerors and the conquered. Heck, one in nine people in Asia are direct descendants of Genghis Khan.

                      Our “nature” changed because the environment changed. More accurately, we changed the environment. Through technological advances and collective effort, we’ve mostly removed the constant specter of starvation from our everyday lives. That has allowed us to produce art and philosophy and all the other things that make life worth living. Those changes didn’t come because some holy man told us we had to (and there have been many). They came because we were no longer so desperate for a meal that we considered it perfectly acceptable to take it from someone else when our hunting expedition failed. Empathy stopped being a survival disadvantage. Our current technologies are steadily taking us to a world where the specter of nobody working will no longer be a part of everyday life either. Only once we innovate ourselves into a world free of want will be truly be capable of being a species of free individuals. Until then, we choose between the lesser of various forms of coercion to maintain a relative peace. It sucks, but you live in the time you were born, not the time you wish you were born.

                      But like I said, I’m going off the grid to spend some quality time with my offspring. I’ll be back next week and I’d love to continue these conversations. It’s so much more enriching than responding to the disinformation spewed by ideologues with too much time on their hands that tend to take over every discussion forum. The internet had so much potential, but like everything else in the world it turned out to be no better than the collective mean of the societies it sought to connect.

                    2. Allright, great. Hope U have a great time unplugging for a little while.
                      I don’t see any obvious method to private message you via Disqus. So I’ll just look for you on CHL in about a week’s time.

            1. You and I are not in agreement with the meaning of neoliberal. To me it is liberalism tending to favour free-market capitalism and for you….well, I`m still not sure what your understanding of neoliberal is. Our last conversation you didnt quite identify what you thought it was. I have stopped using that word because it means something different to you and I really don`t want to get into an agrument on the meaning of neoliberalism just for the sake of arguing.

              1. You and the entire academic world are not in agreement with the meaning of neoliberal. In fact, you’re the only one in the world who uses your definition.

                In other words, you don’t know what it means.

      2. His approval ratings are in the low 20s. It would appear that like most honest observers, the Ecuadorian public disagrees with your assessment.

      3. “that is how the most successful countries in the world operate.”

        Can you name some you know well Esmeralda?

        To me it has all the wisdom and details found in a Fortune Cookie.

      1. Through his burning devotion, the man is blind to a bit of funnin’, not to mention that you took the bait. 🙂 Don’t worry. My wife reminds me all the time that I’m not funny. OK, here’s another one. I can’t resist. I’m not worried about deserving what’s coming to me because I’m a rich gringo(?).

  2. Ecuadorians are very fortunate that they got rid of Correa just in time!! Correa is not permitted in the country anymore essentially stripping him of his citizenship!!!

      1. Just in time to NOT be in the same position as Venezuela. If he would have stayed much longer and implemented governing the same as his best friends Chavez and Maduro then Ecuador could have ended up by being just another Venezuela with no food, no medicine and chaos. Correa went on and on about how wonderful Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela are. That is what we mean by “He left just in time“

        1. We heard that nonsense for 10 years and all we got was the longest economic expansion in Ecuador’s history, the largest middle class in its history, the lowest poverty rate in its history. At some point, you have to take a look at reality and admit that your predictions were wrong.

          1. I am not predicting. I am parroting the words of Moreno that realized the predicament Venezuela ended up in and does not want that for Ecuador.

              1. I wonder why you are allowed to degrade others on this site, and Jason you do it all the time and get away with it.

  3. President Moreno would be wise to stick to his pledge not to seek re-election as he is very unpopular as shown by polling data. His political party, Alianza PAÍS, was thrashed in the recent elections. Most working class Ecuadorians I encounter view Moreno as a traitor. Note that all the glowing comments in this article are from elites.

    1. You know that you are ruining the feel good moment. Aren’t you glad there is someone out there (Moreno) that sees what is happening in Venezuela and is adamant that “This isn’t going to happen to Ecuador. I won’t allow Ecuador to become a failed society, a failed state”. Now let’s just hope the people will re-elect Moreno

      1. If believing in lies and propaganda is what makes you feel good, you really should reexamine your priorities. I reiterate:

        “What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left, but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves with ‘stories’?”

        – Valery Legasov

        1. And Valery Legasov is right. In my first 40 years living in USSR I saw how intelligent, smart people were unable to recognize the truth, especially when all the opposition to marxism-leninism had been destroyed, and generations were raised in hearing, believing in those lies need for a major future good, and then just live, breath and almost loving it. There are still quite many people in Russia believing those lies ( and killings/torturing millions for invented reasons) were necessary, and that Stalin’s rule was the best.
          Some people here sound to me like related to those more, than I am, though they were not born/raised there.

          1. The evolution of human collective consciousness moves so excruciatingly slowly… but each of us as individuals can go as fast as we want. The faster and further we each go, the more we can speed up the process for everyone else.

            See this for an overview:

            And see these for a graphic representation of the process:


    2. So, you would prefer Ecuador to become the next Venezuela? Socialism always fails in the long run. Sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money. The way to success for everyone is true education and hard work.

      1. Socialism always fails in the long run? Don’t tell most of the highest rated countries on the Human Development Index.

        Sooner or later, you run out of cliches.

  4. This article is so riddled with factual inaccuracies (i.e. lies) that I have to wonder where we’re going as a society. I get that Bloomberg is a mouthpiece for global capitalism, not knocking the proponents of that useful social technology, but it’s a sad day when they have to resort to objectively verifiable lies to sell their position. I’m reminded of a quote from a recent miniseries on the Chernobyl disaster:

    “What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left, but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves with ‘stories’?”

    – Valery Legasov

    1. I cannot agree with your affection for Correa Jason. For me, he was a good leader that turned sour, as almost do in such systems when they hold power too long. It is the curse of presidential governments.
      But Moreno doesn’t make ANY long term sense. AND I am generously ignoring your allegations of his corruption. I am a realist when called for. Corruption can be remedied or be balanced out by otherwise good decisions. I can tolerate a bit of vigorish in return for a well-run country. But, in this case, you can’t cure stupid.
      The USA has always exploited every nation they come into contact with. And Latinos are not high on the list of admired ones for the present administration. Nothing has changed. And as the world has learned, long ago, if their terms are accepted, they figure they didn’t get enough and ask for more. Today, they are screwing their own allies. THAT will not be forgotten or forgiven and will shape the world future from now on. It is not something that changes with a new president. Americans see Trump but the world only sees America. America has never been so low in the global power and perception.
      So the simplest analysis is that Moreno has bet on the wrong horse…unless he is (hopefully) incredibly duplicitous which in this case would be excusable considering how much he needed US support for the IMF loans to save the country. But he had to sell this nation’s soul to get it. My contacts tell me that Ecuador has rightly earned international contempt in doing so. Makes no sense other than a desperate move.
      Rising stars are better to latch onto than falling ones. At the moment, Moreno has tied us all to sinking ship. Many of the readers here fled that ship. They call themselves “economic refugees”.

      1. What you call affection I cal recognizing very good leadership. The “turned sour” meme would make sense if it was based in reality, but whenever I press anyone for actual real-world examples I get nothing. Unfortunately we live in a world where Facebook memes are accepted as truth while data from respected international organizations and academics is immediately written off as biased if it calls into question one’s worldview. We’ve arrived at the point where the IMF’s numbers on Ecuador’s debt are discounted in favor of Moreno’s ever increasing number (up to $70 billion last month). Anyone who doesn’t parrot the talking points is ostracized from the group. That includes not calling Correa a dictator even though nobody can give any real-world examples of him ever being one.

        Sadly, this forum is not a tool for getting at the truth. It’s a place where ideologues with disdain for the truth and shockingly evident tendencies towards the Dunning-Kruger effect come to repeat something they read somewhere. They’re really easy to spot. All you have to do is ask them a direct question that requires an objectively verifiable answer and they disappear, only to show up later on another thread as if the question never happened. It’s like your earlier comment about their response to data on climate change. It’s the cognitive dissonance that drives them into a frenzy. In a healthy mind, cognitive dissonance drives a person to reexamine a believe in order to arrive at something closer to the truth. Unfortunately, the echo chamber created by the online world (and the elimination of the fairness doctrine) has created a space where people no longer feel compelled to seek reality. Instead they can retreat into a world replete with fellow travelers more than willing to tell them they’re right.

        All we can do is continue to counter their propaganda in the hope that it prevents future readers from being dazzled by their BS like moths to a flame.

        1. Jason, Jason…. Read what I wrote to our American friends above. The surest sign that “belief” has trumped reason is an unnatural sensitivity to criticism. Nothing I gently about your idol warrants your reaction. Think on that (calmly). You are too smart for beliefs. IMHO, Correa overstayed. Happens to too many of them.

          Oh…and i am not an adherent to Facebook. I joined for a month, got the shivers and now, just like the rumors they will NOT erase my account..despite many requests.

          As for IMF Moreno..we seem to be approaching the same don’t preach to the choir. 😀 There is no percentage in arguing points in agreement.

          And I could not agree with you more about this forum. It is standard US media. They make every effort to pander and therefore profit. Truth and reality are also rans aside from them sneaking a little of their own personal nuttiness from time to time. (Anyone want to know more about Ecuadorian hallucinogens?)

          You and I have no hope of convincing this forum of anything. Their minds and their hearts are a function of generations of cold war propaganda. I am here because now my wife asked me. Without my input, she was going nuts reading the comments without in a bit of cold honest water so she and pals could breath. And then there is the fact that this is the “only game in town”. Most anglo-forums are too big for anyone to read each other. The anglo-world is largely collapsing. This forum shows why.

          1. Please reread my comments. I wasn’t referring to you as one whose opinions come from Facebook memes. I was specifically referring to the diehard keyboard cowboys here who proudly proclaim their lack of need for objective data. I also referenced your comment about their sensitivity to criticism.

            But alas, I shall thankfully be off the grid for the next week. I’m going to an island where the internet is too slow and too intermittent to bother taking my laptop. Seriously, it’s friggin’ paradise. Perhaps Esmeralda and Oswaldo can use this opportunity to post a comment that doesn’t reference my name. 😉

            1. The most significant point about Correa I wanted to make is that there has to be MANY other fine choices in Ecuador. Surely there is someone without the baggage he has, unless he is a cult thing with ritual chanting and such. They all become polarizing and unhelpful.Think of all the extra potential votes from people who will never vote for him now. (shrug)

              How about you? You’re bright, articulate, very knowledgable about politics and well read. I’d vote for you with a lot more confidence than I could for what is being offered in the Ecuadorian news. Of course, I wish you were a bit less fixated on the past and extremes, but you are worth the risk. But those are things the pass with age.

              Travel safely and have a fine holiday. I will dodge the bullets while you are away.

              1. An autocratic walking encyclopaedia and someone who loves to argue for the sake of arguing and twists peoples words to look like they are the winner of a discussion is not the traits I look for in a leader. I would stay away from autocratic leaders with a 10 foot pole when it comes to voting for them. Knowledgeable people don’t necessarily make the best leaders however compassionate ones surely do. I avoid people that are extreme left or right and I look for someone who is balanced. I look for a good listener; one who recognizes when someone (Maduro) does something wrong. I also look for someone who inspires others, has accountability, can delegate, has a good sense of humour, and a positive attitude.

                Your candidate doesn’t have those qualities and is too risky, too confrontational and loves to degrade others. Not a good trait for a leader. When millions of people are running away from their country because they are being suppressed that means the country does not have a good leader and the person who sticks up for this said leader will also not get my vote and hopefully no one elses.

                1. I also look for someone who inspires others, has accountability, can delegate, has a good sense of humour, and a positive attitude. Your candidate doesn’t have those qualities and is too risky, too confrontational and loves to degrade others. Not a good trait for a leader.

                  Funny, I didn’t realize that were talking about Trump.

    2. I still say that if you love communism and dictatorships so much then move there and see how suppressed they are. It is annoying to me when people with your thought pattern still insist on living in a democratic free country and consistently bad mouth it and do not appreciate it.

      1. It is annoying to me that the only way you can ever respond is with the false premise that I love communism and dictatorships. You’re new to this whole American values thing so let me tell you what Thomas Jefferson often said; dissent is the highest form of patriotism. The fact that you spend all your time trying to quiet dissent and stifle criticism shows that you don’t understand what freedom really means.

        1. I arrived at the conclusion that you are pro communism and pro dictatorship because you stick up for them and are always knocking down democracy. These are your words Jason and not false premises. I have never heard you criticize dictators.

  5. I include myself as someone who voted for Lasso, but am glad Moreno won. Moreno shows an accurate understanding of where the country is and was. His ability to abandon policies and stances he once believed in shows courage and maturity. Interesting his statement about having the right produce in order to give to the left. At least he understands the right creates prosperity and the left then wastes it.

      1. Actually, Jason, in all countries with a conservative elements, the real expression is “(Fill in the name of the local conservative party) times are hard times”. The stats prove it. They invariably run up huge debt and refuse to raise taxes to pay for it. Never fails to cause deep damage. I have absolutely no infatuation with any economic system, merely in what works and what doesn’t.

        But Jason? Who can blame them. Even their parents before them were ceaselessly bombarded by anti-Soviet propaganda 24/7. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them salivate when they see the color red. Pavlovian. Be sad for them. I am…just before I get sad for all of us.

        1. I can blame them. The baby boomer generation has done more to harm civilization than any generation before or since. I grant them no quarter. My only solace is that biology is steadily making their selfish mentalities moot.

        2. Globetrotter the anti-Soviet stories came from the actual people that lived there. When boat loads and boat loads of people that came from the Soviet Union described how bad it was there are you telling us that you did not believe them. All the stories were the same. Do you actually think they sat on the pier before they left and said lets all have the same stories even though they came at different times and from different parts of the Soviet Union. Do you think they lied.

          1. Nobody is advocating for the Soviet system. The problem with your arguments is you think everyone else shares your belief that words can mean whatever you want them to mean and even change them on a weekly basis.

            1. Well said Jason. For Americans of the Esmeralda era, everything is black or white as she was mind-trained during Cold War propaganda. So if you disapprove of the US in any way, you must be pro-Soviet. It is incredibly myopic, but there is nothing to be done about it. Aside from the horrendous damage they do us all, they are to be pitied, not reviled. They are forced to live in a scary unreal world. 🙁 In fact, I kinda like Esmeralda. She speaks her mind and does not resort to silly verbal abuse. If they were all like her, there would be some hope.

            2. Most people will notice that you are twisting my words around in circles. To be perfectly clear. I was commenting on something that Globbetrotter responsed to you about that said “But Jason? Who can blame them. Even their parents before them were ceaselessly bombarded by anti-Soviet propaganda 24/7”. What I was saying was that when large groups of people leave a country and say that the life in that country was bad that we as a society should believe them. For example Soviet Union, Venezuela

  6. The 10 Commandments of Rational Debate [logical fallacies explained]

    1. Though shall not attack the person’s character, but the argument itself. (“Ad hominem”)

    Example: Dave listens to Marilyn Manson, therefore

    his arguments against certain parts of religion are worthless. After

    all, would you trust someone who listens to that devil worshiper?

    2. Though shall not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack. (“Straw Man Fallacy”)

    Example: After Jimmy said that we should put more

    money into health and education, Steve responded by saying that he was

    surprised that Jimmy hates our country so much that he wants to leave it

    defenceless by cutting military spending.

    3. Though shall not use small numbers to represent the whole. (“Hasty Generalization”)

    Example: Climate Change Deniers take a small sample

    set of data to demonstrate that the Earth is cooling, not warming. They

    do this by zooming in on 10 years of data, ignoring the trend that is

    present in the entire data set which spans a century.

    4. Though shall not argue thy position by assuming one of its premises is true. (“Begging the Question”)


    Sheldon: “God must exist.”

    Wilbert: “How do you know?”

    Sheldon: “Because the Bible says so.”

    Wilbert: “Why should I believe the Bible?”

    Sheldon: “Because the Bible was written by God.”

    Wilbert: “WTF?”

    Here, Sheldon is making the assumption that the Bible is true, therefore his premise – that God exists – is also true.

    5. Though shall not claim that because something occurred before, but must be the cause. (“Post Hoc/False Cause”).

    This can also be read as “correlation does not imply causation”.

    Example: There were 3 murders in Dallas this week and on each day, it was raining. Therefore, murders occur on rainy days.

    6. Though shall not reduce the argument down to only two possibilities when there is a clear middle ground. (“False Dichotomy”)

    Example: You’re either with me, or against me. Being neutral is not an option.

    7. Though shall not argue that because of our ignorance, the claim must be true or false. (“Ad Ignorantiam”).

    Example: 95% of unidentified flying objects have

    been explained. 5% have not. Therefore, the 5% that are unexplained

    prove that aliens exist.

    8. Though shall not lay the burn of proof onto him that is questioning the claim. (“Burden of Proof Reversal”).

    Example: Marcy claims she sees the ghosts of dead

    people, then challenges you to prove her wrong. The burden of proof is

    on Marcy, not you, since Marcy made the extraordinary claim.

    9. Though shall not assume that “this” follows “that”, when “it” has no logical connection. (“Non Sequitur”).

    Similar, but the difference between the post hoc and non sequitur

    fallacies is that, whereas the post hoc fallacy is due to lack of a

    causal connection, in the non sequitur fallacy, the error is due to lack

    of a logical connection.

    Example: If you do not buy this Vitamin X supplements for your infant, you are neglecting your her.

    10. Though shall not claim that because a premise is popular, therefore, it must be true. (“Bandwagon Fallacy”).

    Example: Just because a celebrity like Dr. Oz endorses a product, it doesn’t make it any more legitimate.

  7. I certainly cannot agree with Robert. As a form of government and economic system is it failing very quickly (250 years), and that is even if we ignore the horrendous Civil War, the striking income/wealth inequalities and constant financial crashes.

    Whose fault? It is a common human characteristic fault to be incapable of thinking out of the box we were brought up in. The Russians are used to tyrants, so they keep allowing them..whether they call them Tsar, Chairman or President. The writers of the Constitution were former Royalists, Franklin, Adams… the limit was to reinvent the monarchy they had just left, and call the new King a “president”. Curiously, the mother country, England, progressed further along the road to democracy than the America did.

    In a nutshell, the American presidential system does not work. It gives too much power to one man, and as been pointed, power corrupts. The man soon has a habit, if we believe the opposition in each term, of overstepping his limits and ignoring the Constitution. Has there EVER been a President who has escaped that accusation?

    Tragically, the system has spread elsewhere with aggressive US encouragement. It is perfect for wannabee dictators. (shiver)

    As for the hope of changing the default economic system, there is a misguided group of international economists now working on just that Frankly, I don’t think its writer understood what they are getting at either.

    Capitalism may not work over the long term, but it has been able to sift out the most productive managers..which is its best point. But it is striking that China has been able to do the same and MUCH better by picking and pressuring managers WITHOUT skewing their entire nation towards billionaire oligarchs and leaving everyone else behind. That is something we have not seen since the time of the Pharaohs…and they lasted 3000 years.

    You have to be incredibly mind-washed to write or choose this article.

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