Sibling rivalry reaches new heights as Correa brothers Rafael and Fabricio battle for political power in Ecuador
When ambitious siblings vie for political power there are two extremes. There is the Roman way: Romulus kills Remus for control of the city. There is the Labour way: David and Ed Miliband wish each other luck in the party leadership race.
Somewhere in between – call it the third way – is Ecuador, where President Rafael Correa and his brother Fabricio battle for influence through public insults and metaphorical daggers.
Fabricio has just launched a political party to try to wrest control of the South American country from his younger brother and apparent nemesis, turning a family feud into a political soap opera.
The two fell out a year ago over allegations that Fabricio, an engineer-turned-entrepreneur, used his brother's position to win multimillion-dollar contracts for several companies.
Rafael, 47, who has declared clean government a platform of his rule, accused Fabricio, 50, of betrayal. "I know that my brother will be my brother all of my life, but the same goes for my principles," he said. "I will always do what needs doing, no matter what the personal price is."
The president ordered the cancellation of £50m worth of contracts, though in the end the comptroller general's office found no wrongdoing and dropped the investigation.
Analysts said Rafael must have known of the contracts, not least because his mother was on the board of several of Fabricio's companies.
Rather than slink into the shadows Fabricio struck back, declaring his innocence and launching a political party to challenge Rafael's hold on power.
There is no hint of Romulus-style fratricide but nor is there any attempt at Milibandesque restraint.
Fabricio accused the president of lacking manliness – "nobody has so far had the testicular competence to sue me" – and of lying in the 2006 election campaign in which made him head of one of the continent's most unstable countries.
"I knew he had good intentions and he was seeking the wellbeing of the country, but I didn't know that he was lying to me, just like he lied to 13m Ecuadoreans," Fabricio told BBC News. He branded Rafael a puppet of his leftist ally, President Hugo Chávez. "This is a communist project, led by a political bureau that receives orders from Venezuela."
The president's once-stellar ratings have tumbled amid battles with indigenous groups, unions, the media and cabinet colleagues. However a fractured opposition means he could win a second term in elections slated for 2013. Fabricio said he was considering running himself. "Since no other leader has decided to come forth and take on the challenge, if the circumstances are right, I will be a candidate," he said.
Credit: By Rory Carroll, Manchester Guardian; photo caption: Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa