Following through on a campaign promise, President Lenin Moreno presided over his first “national dialog” Tuesday in Guayaquil. The event attracted most of the country’s political leaders, including many who opposed Moreno during the presidential election, as well as national representatives of business, education, law enforcement, health care, and a variety of environmental and advocacy organizations.
“We are united today in dialog for the purpose of advancing the country we all love,” Moreno told the audience during his opening remarks. “What we begin here today is part of the participatory process to provide guidance to the government so we can better serve the citizens of Ecuador. Today, we put divisiveness behind us in favor of a common good.”
The event, attended by nearly a thousand participants and observers, featured 22 discussion groups on such topics as tax policy, corruption, agriculture, private investment, Ecuador’s communication law, allocation of television and radio frequencies, access to university education, labor law, health care, political amnesty, plurinational inclusion, foreign trade, and immigration.
The mayors of Quito and Cuenca, both of whom opposed Moreno in the recent election, praised the president for organizing the dialog.
“I am very pleased to see the opening of communication channels between national and local governments,” said Cuenca’s Marcelo Cabrera. “This is something we have needed for a long time.”
Quito Mayor Mauricio Rodas added that he finally feels comfortable discussing the needs of his city in a collegial atmosphere instead of one of conflict. “This event gives me great optimism that we can work together on our problems, instead of fighting each other. The people of Quito and Ecuador are the beneficiaries of this process.”
Following the meeting, Moreno paid a two-hour visit to Guayaquil Mayor Jaime Nebot. Like Cabrera and Rodas, Nebot praised Moreno for his willingness to discuss a full range of issues and pointed out that former President Rafael Correa never visited or invited him to the presidential palace in Quito.
Nebot invited Moreno to attend the opening of the Guayaquil foundation festival in July and the president accepted.
“We had a very cordial and constructive meeting today,” said Nebot. “I look forward to more to come.”
Continuing his outreach to the country’s mayors and prefects, Moreno hosts Rodas today at the presidential palace.