Institutional weakness, political crisis, economic decline, indebtedness, corruption and an unprecedented health emergency, that is the dark scenario facing Ecuador thanks to Lenin Moreno’s regime.
Since Moreno assumed the Presidency in 2017 and negotiated with the conservative right a treason against the Citizen Revolution, he has embarked on a neoliberal agenda that included a pact with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and other international financial institutions, that leaves Ecuador indebted for, at least, the next three decades.
In this way, he put the future of Ecuadorians at risk by negotiating an “economic program” to receive “help” from these institutions, at the cost of applying packages that directly affect the quality of life of the people of Ecuador.
A country in debt
Currently, Ecuador’s public debt represents 52% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to official data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
The Central Bank of Ecuador forecasts that the drop in GDP this year will be 9.6%. The debt level against this index stands at 59.3%. In addition, the current economic conditions due to the million-dollar losses caused by the pandemic, the uncertainty in the oil market and the 17.5 billion dollars to be paid in bonds until 2030, suggest a less favourable scenario.
Even the IMF warned that Ecuador’s economy “is weakened.” The director of the institution’s Western Hemisphere, Alejandro Werner, indicated that the Moreno government began a renegotiation with the main bond creditors due to difficulties in meeting debt payments.
In statements to the press, Werner avoided commenting on the amount of new financing that Ecuador could reach with the IMF, after the debt negotiation process was canceled to give rise to an emergency credit line for some 650 million dollars, to face the coronavirus crisis that to date leaves a balance of 54,000 infected and 4,400 dead.
This credit obtained through the so-called Rapid Financing Instrument (IFR) is added to the three-year program signed by Moreno with the IMF in 2019.
That initial credit for $ 4.2 billion involved a program of cuts and fiscal adjustments that led to a wave of protests in October 2019, when the Executive raised fuel prices.
For the journalist and political analyst, Patricio Mery Bell, the economic mismanagement and servility to the IMF carried out by Lenín Moreno have further deepened the crisis that Ecuador is going through.
“Ecuador already went bankrupt once in 1999 and lost almost 8.2 billion dollars, leading 2.4 million people to leave the country. Today it is estimated that 11,500 billion dollars have been lost, of which 4,500 were forgiven for large business and 2,800 million were paid to the IMF”, he recalled in statements to the news portal El Ciudadano.
It is more than likely that Moreno will continue to apply new cuts and increase taxes to satisfy every demand of the IMF and other creditors, despite the fact that between March and June 180,000 Ecuadorians lost their jobs, according to data from the Ministry of Labor. This is a very high figure if it is taken into account that between December 2014 and June 2019, 400,000 jobs were destroyed.
In other words, in just four months, while being victims of the coronavirus, there were a total of unemployed people equivalent to almost 50% of the last five years.
In fact, the Government calculated last April that 508,000 jobs would be lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a very alarming forecast, taking into account that the capacity to cover unemployment insurance reaches up to 550,000 people, something that puts the Ecuadorians on the brink of the abyss.
Since Moreno came to power, the political and judicial persecution against the leaders of the Citizen Revolution or ‘Correismo’ (People who identify themselves with the political ideas of Rafael Correa) has not stopped.
Moreno’s cruelty against the political leadership left by the government and leadership of former President Rafael Correa has been relentless. Proof of this is that he dared to prosecute his own elected vice president, Jorge Glas, who is currently incarcerated without any proven reasons by law.
Patricio Mery Bell worked as an external consultant for Rafael Correa and was present in the transition to Lenín Moreno in Ecuador, so he has first hand knowledge of how the persecution against Correismo and social movements has been carried out.
“This criminal dictatorship within a failed state holds political prisoners such as Jorge Glas, Ecuador’s constitutional vice president, and three citizens of the Sucumbíos province who participated in the protests in October 2019”, he denounced.
Likewise, Mery Bell pointed out that the world is witness to the way in which Lenín Moreno carries out a tireless persecution “against the most important political group in Ecuador, those that conform the ‘Correismo’, the Citizen Revolution and the political movement Fuerza Compromiso Social (FCS ), which represent at least 40% of the country, being the group with the greatest popular adherence”.
For the analyst, Moreno’s fear of losing power is so great that he wants to prevent Rafael Correa from assuming political office in Ecuador at all costs.
Precisely, the former president (2007–2017) denounced on Thursday that they intend to prevent him from participating in the next elections, by trying to outlaw his political movement, Fuerza Compromiso Social.
In statements to the press, Correa confirmed that “if they let him” he will be a candidate for the Vice President of Ecuador in the presidential and assembly elections scheduled for 2021.
However, the former president questioned the recommendation of the State Comptroller’s Office, which asks the National Electoral Council (CNE) to cancel the registration of four political organizations, including the aforementioned FCS.
In 2019, the Comptroller’s Office recommended to the CNE to monitor the legal situation of the Correa political movement, because it allegedly did not meet the requirement to have the signatures of 1.5% of the electoral roll, and last week requested its removal.
In this regard, Mery Bell recalled that this campaign is led by Pablo Celi, who “usurps the position of State Comptroller, since he was never appointed by the Assembly”, with the purpose of eliminating the FCS and leaving Rafael Correa out of the upcoming electoral process”.
The boycott of Correa’s possible candidacy is so visible that the progressive leader himself stressed that the former president of the Azuay province, Paúl Carrasco, denounced “that he was called by the (CNE) counselor Luis Verdesoto to ask him to support the delay in the elections to give the judicial system time to get the final sentence” against the former Head of State, so he can be prevented from participating in the elections.
“We are honest people, the corrupt are the ones who persecute us”, said Correa, sentenced last April for the crime of bribery and in first instance to eight years in prison, in the case known as Bribes 2012–2016.
According to the judges, it is a corruption plot that involved national and international companies, such as the Brazilian Odebrecht, from which Correa and his team ‘allegedly’ received payments to finance their then political movement, Alianza País (AP), in exchange for awarding millionaire contracts.
“The reality is that corrupt judges are trying to get a final judgment in an absolutely illegal and vicious trial against Rafael Correa, so that he cannot compete for the Vice Presidency of the Republic”, said Mery Bell.
Mery Bell recalled that Lenin Moreno faces a series of accusations by the opposition deputy, Ronny Aleaga, who links him to the “offshore” company INA Invesment.
Aleaga received an anonymous “reserved” dossier with documents that implicate Moreno and his family in alleged crimes of association and illicit enrichment, perjury and money laundering.
These documents, which are known by the media as the “INA Papers”, would demonstrate Moreno’s relationship with the Chinese company Sinohydro, which built the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant and which, the deputy affirms, gave 18 million dollars to the offshore company Recorsa, related to the Ecuadorian businessman Conto Patiño Martínez, who transferred money to more than 10 ‘ghost’ companies in Panama, including INA Investment Corp.
For this reason, Mery Bell recalled that Raúl De la Torre, nephew of Comptroller Celi, pleaded guilty to money laundering in the United States.
De la Torre, who served as an advisor to the state-owned Petroecuador, was arrested in June 2019 in Miami after entering the United States with $ 250,000 of which he could not explain their provenance.
“Under the Lenin Moreno regime, Ecuador has become a perfect script that Netflix can use to make the continuation of Narcos or a series related to the mafia”, condemned the journalist.
“All the signs and all the elements are given to define the Government of Lenín Moreno as a dictatorship with all its letters, and as such, it must be rejected throughout the world. It is unfortunate that many who raised their voices to condemn similar situations in other countries today remain silent and are complicit in this dictatorship that every day kills people with hunger, or with the COVID-19 because of the negligence of Moreno and his corrupt gang”, Mery Bell concluded.