Ecuador: indigenous split on presidential race

Ecuador's presidential election is now set for a second round in early April, after days of delay in counting the totals from the Feb. 19 vote. Lenín Moreno of the ruling left-populist PAIS party, former vice president under the incumbent Rafel Correa, will face Guayquil banker Guillermo Lasso of the conservative CREO. (BBC News, Feb. 23) Ecuador's once-powerful but increasingly fractured indigenous movement was divided on who to support in the first round, and its main organizations are now attempting to arrive at a position on the second round. The major umbrella group, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), has broken with the ruling PAIS, accusing Correa of authoritarianism and being coopted by the extractive industries. CONAIE adopted ¡Fuera Correa, fuera! (Out Correa, out!) as a slogan, rejecting Moreno as Correa's chosen successor—but must now decide whether to take a stance on the run-off. (El Universo, Guayaquil, Feb. 23)

In the first round, CONAIE and its allied political party Pachakutik backed left-opposition candidate Paco Moncayo, a retired general and the former mayor of Quito. But Moncayo finished in fourth place; he and his Democratic Left party have since declined to support either candidate in the run-off. CONAIE is to hold a national assembly in Quito this week to decide whether to throw its support to Lasso.

A powerful CONAIE affiliate, the Kichwa National Confederation of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI), has already thrown its support to Lasso. Monica Chuji, a social leader from the Amazonian Kichwa community of Sarayaku who became a cabinet secretary under Correa's first government in 2006 but later broke with him, is also vocally supporting Lasso.

Lasso held a meeting with indigenous leaders in Cuenca Feb. 23, to thank them for their support. Among those present was ECUARUNARI president Carlos Pérez Guartambel, who said flatly: "We prefer a banker rather than a dictatorship that has stripped us of our territories, declared a state of emergency and locked us up in jail."

But another major leg of CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities and Peoples of the Ecuadoran Coast (CONAICE), has officially put its support behind Moreno, saying that the Correa government has been open to dialogue. CONAICE also supported Moreno in the first round, and accused CONAIE of violating principles of internal democracy in its decision to support Moncayo. (La Hora, Quito, Feb. 24; Ecuador Times, Feb. 24; Ecuador Inmediato, Feb. 22; openDemocracy, Feb. 21; Buenos Aires Herald, Feb. 17; Remezcla, Feb. 10)

Ecuador: does Moreno represent break with Correa?

Lenín Moreno has squeaked past Guillermo Lasso after Ecuador's April 2 presidential run-off, although Lasso initially protested the vote as fraudulent and stated that Moreno's rule would be "illegitimate." Although Moreno is seen as groomed sucessor of Rafel Correa, there are some hopeful signs he could be more democratic. "I have some differences with [Correa] over freedom of expression. I think the president should be ready to tolerate much more than any ordinary citizen," he said. (The Guardian)

Correa himself will be eligible to run again in 2021 under the constitutional amendment he pushed through in 2015, lifting presidential term limits.

Ecuador voters reinstate presidential term limits

Voters in Ecuador on Feb. 4 voted to reinstate a two-term limit for elected officials, with 64 percent of voters in favor of referendum question 2, which would amend the constitution so that all elected officials can only be re-elected once for the same office.

Referendum 2 reinstates the term limits in place until 2015 when former president Rafael Correa's political party amended the constitution to lift the limits on presidential terms. The amendment was to begin just in time for the 2021 election, which would have made Correa eligible to run again for president. Since the passage of the referendum, Correa will no longer be allowed to run for president in the 2021 election. (Jurist)