Who is Daniel Noboa and what can he accomplish in a 17-month presidential term?
By Liam Higgins
Because of his unexpected rise to the presidency, relatively little is known about Daniel Noboa other than the fact he is the son of banana magnate and billionaire Álvaro Noboa. Even his politics are something of a mystery; much of the media call him center-right although he says he’s a centrist with a “lean to the left” as a result of his support for social programs.
Noboa was born in the United States and holds dual Ecuadorian and U.S. citizenship. He began working for his father’s banana business, Corporación Noboa, at age 16, holding several positions before leaving for the U.S. to attend university.
He studied business administration at New York University’s Stern School of Business and earned a degree in public administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. He also holds a master’s degree in governance and political communication from Geroge Washington University.
After establishing and operating his own business, DNA Entertainment, he became interested in politics, working in two of his father’s failed presidential campaigns, although he says he disagrees with some of his father’s conservative positions.
He was elected to the National Assembly in 2021, representing Santa Elena Province, where he served on the Economic Development Commission. He introduced two legislative bills, neither of which advanced.
National Assembly vote tracking service RFC, reports that his voting record was “broad ranging.” On votes pitting President Guillermo Lasso’s interests against those of the Correista Citizens Revolution, Noboa voted with CR almost 60% of the time and was publicly thanked for his support on one occasion by CR assembly member and future presidential election opponent Luisa González. “He had good relationships in the Assembly and avoided confrontations,” said RFC blogger Carlos Alvite. “Although he is a supporter of most legislation that helped business and employment, he also supported programs to improve education and support the poor.”
Alvite adds: “Besides being well-liked by most of colleagues, there are still serious questions about where he stands on some issues and no one knows how he will govern.”
What can Noboa accomplish in 17 months in office? Not much, most experts say, and Noboa acknowledges the difficulty. “I have been clear that the short period in office makes things hard, but I pledge to begin immediately working to fulfill my promises,” Noboa said Monday. “I am already in contact with members of the new Assembly and am encouraged by their encouragement and good attitude.”
Noboa lists crime and security, health and education, and the economy as his top priorities. “We have to start with fighting the drug cartels and the criminal gangs and establishing control of the prisons,” he says. “This means addressing the corruption that has infected many of our institutions.”
According to political science professor Santiago Basabe, the shortened presidential term could be a trap or Noboa. “Given the country’s problems, people expect immediate results, and he won’t be able to deliver it. Lasso didn’t do him in any favors by making this a short term and he’ll [Noboa] almost need to perform miracles to keep his commitments and put himself in position to win the 2025 election.”
Despite the long odds, Basabe says he sees a path to success for Noboa. “First, he does not have the political baggage that Lasso had and he doesn’t have the contentious personality. I think he will be able to work with the Assembly, even the Correistas, which Lasso was unable to do. If he is able to make a strong start on the crime and health issues, and if people see real progress, he has a chance to be successful.
Although the National Electoral Council has yet to set a firm date, it is believed Noboa will assume office in mid- or late-December. At 35, he will be the youngest Ecuadorian president in the modern era.