Noboa is in ‘honeymoon’ period but criticism grows about lack of details on security, economic plans

Jan 3, 2024 | 0 comments

According to former vice president Otto Sonnenholzner, it is time for President Daniel Noboa to provide a “detailed roadmap” of his plans to fight crime and improve the economy. “The country is in crisis and we need to understand how this government intends to respond,” says Sonnenholzner. “We need specifics, not generalities.”

Former vice president Otto Sonnenholzner

Sonnenholzner, who was a presidential candidate in the May cross death election, acknowledges that Noboa has been in office for only 40 days, but says it is time for the “honeymoon” to end. “He has enjoyed smooth sailing in his first weeks but now is the time for him to answer the difficult questions.”

Noboa’s press office responded to Sonnenholzner’s criticism and that of Jan Topic, another defeated presidential candidate, saying that the 11 questions the government will put before voters in a public referendum “will offer a response to some critics.”

The questions were sent to the Constitutional Court for review on Tuesday. “The questions will be made public Wednesday and will put in full view the priorities of this government,” the press statement said. “It will be the public, not the politicians, who will pass judgement of the president’s agenda.” The statement added that the questions will focus on security and unemployment issues “because these are the most important to citizens.”

In a Quito radio interview, Topic said he is surprised at the lack of “critical dialog” within the National Assembly about Noboa’s plans. “The coalition of the president, the Social Christians and Citizens Revolution has stifled the hard questions, and the government is getting the rubber stamp on its programs,” Topic says. “Now that the Correistas have joined the coalition, the criticism has stopped. The fact remains, especially on the issue of confronting organized crime and drug transport, we have seen no action. In recent days there have been bloody massacres in Esmeraldas, Guayaquil and Duran and there has been no response from the government.”

Topic conceded that part of Noboa’s honeymoon has come courtesy of Operation Metastasis corruption arrests. “He had nothing to do with this other than to support the Attorney General, yet it has boosted his popularity. Today, I would like to see his own proposals to fight against corruption.”

Construye Movement Assemblywoman Ana Galarza agrees with Topic and Sonnenholzner that Noboa is getting a “free ride” with his proposals in the Assembly. “He deserves a few weeks to organize his government, but the country is demanding action in the face of criminal attacks and lack of economic opportunity,” she says.

Like Topic, Galarza is surprised that the Citizens Revolution bloc in the Assembly has fallen into “lockstep” with the president and the Social Christians. “In the last Assembly, CR presented strong, intelligent objections to [Guillermo] Lasso’s proposals but now they are supporting the same things with Noboa. I understand they have lost their majority coalition, but it is hard to understand why they have abandoned their ideals and have flipped positions.”

Galarza added that the Construye Movement will be the voice of opposition when necessary. “We are not part of the government’s coalition and will not be afraid to speak our mind. If we agree with the president’s proposals, we will vote for them. If we don’t, we will vote against them.”

The most vocal criticism of the new government comes from Ecuador’s labor unions. President of the Popular Front, Nelson Erazo, claims Noboa is imposing a “neoliberal model” on the nation. “It is clear from the very small increase in the minimum wage and the economic law passed by the Assembly that this government does not represent the interests of workers,” he said. “Our movement and others will soon take to the streets to voice our objections.”

Erazo criticized the National Assembly for lack of support for labor. “In the past, we heard voices that objected to the interests of corporations and the millionaires but, unfortunately, those have fallen silent.”

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