President of EcuadorNext
- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Latin Lover
- Official Title: President
- Government: Well-established democracy
- Years Left in Office: To 2011; re-election possible
- Political Classification: Left
- Education: MA, MS, PhD in Economics
- Age: 58 (born April 6, 1963)
Rafael Correa Facts and Information
- Correa is a staunch socialist moving Ecuadorean politics to the left
- Correa is [so far, successfully] not playing by the standard rules of world financial institutions
- Correa refused to recognize or pay back any international Ecuadorean debt created by former dictators
- Correa is hesitant to enter free trade pacts with the US, and shies away from US relationships
- Correa is very pro-South America; he wants increased involvement in regional trade/political blocks
¡Ay, caramba! Correa es kick-ass! The refined and resplendent Rafael Correa of Ecuador, that is….even though he somehow reminds me of a more stately version of Erik Estrada from CHiPs. But he ain’t no Poncherello…he is the President! The reign of Rafael has brought some huge changes to Ecuador too….and the reason I think you should know this dude is because the changes he is enacting in his state could easily become a trend for the entire region, and the lesser developed parts of the whole world. Yeah, it is that heavy! So why should you be conscious of the Correa commotion?
Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado is one smart damn cookie. With BA, MA, and PhDs in Economics, this Correa cat is well versed in all things financial, and he is using his skills to strike a new path forward for his otherwise standardly under-developed state. He is worldly-wise too: having traveled and studied in Europe and the United States, he has a savvy global perspective and knows how the system works form both sides of the economic feeding chain. The dude is even fluent in Spanish, French, Quechua, and English! Damn! The multi-lingual money man!
And flex his economic pecs he has. Correa went back home after his studies to become actively engaged in trying to fix his country for the better, to pull its peoples out of poverty, and to fight for social and economic justice in his equatorial ecosystem. He became the head Financial Minister for the government in 2005, a position that he only held for a few months before resigning in protest after being accused of shady dealings…the ‘shady deal’ involved Correa raising a shit-ton of money for his country by legitimately selling government bonds to Venezuela and Brazil, a move that his conservative anti-Chavez bosses did not like. Damn those conservatives hate Chavez! Even when he makes them money!
But when Correa stepped down, he had tremendous public support. People on the streets actually trusted and respected him more than the officials who had hired him. Correa then ran for and won the top slot of the Presidency in 2006, after having formed a whole new political party just to get the job done. His ‘New Country Movement’ party aims to do just that: reinvent the entire political landscape of the country. He vowed to rewrite the constitution, wipe out endemic corruption from the sleazoid political ranks, and work hard for a more socialist-styled government that would help balance out the huge wealth disparity in the country….something like the top 20% of the wealthiest Ecuadoreans control over 50% of the wealth…..damn, where does that leave the other 80%? That is what Rafael has been asking too…and those are the folks he is working for. And they love him too! He won a second Presidential term in 2009 by the widest margin in the country’s history. So why so popular?
Here is the real deal I want you to know about Correa: he has got financial balls-a-plenty, and has been playing hardball with international institutions and his own entrenched crooked politicians at home too. In a brazen move in 2008, Correa declared Ecuador’s national debt illegitimate because it was contracted by prior crooked-ass regimes. Let me break it down for you: Rafael basically told the IMF and other big international banks, “Hey, you lent your money to a bunch of crooked politicians and crooked businessmen in our country, so go get your damn money back from them! Don’t expect our state to reimburse you for loans you made to those shady shitheels!” Wow! That is crazy talk! And of course that really pisses off the IMF and the big banks and the US/European countries who run those banks and lent that money. I won’t go so far as to say its a revolutionary approach….but it is pretty damn close! A small country standing up to the big money on the planet? Its like a freakin Latin American Robin Hood!
Okay, maybe a ‘Rafael Hood’ is pushing it a bit. But the dude is a serious advocate of poverty reduction and economic sovereignty, and he has done a lot more than simply defaulting on international debt to meet these goals. He is working on re-writing all of the multi-national oil company contracts that have been reaming Ecuador for years (oil is Ecuador’s biggest export.) In his own words: “Many of the oil contracts are a true entrapment for the country. Of every five barrels of oil that the multinationals produce, they leave only one for the state and take four… That is absolutely unacceptable. We’re going to revise and renegotiate the contracts.” You tell’em Rafael! Stickin’ it to the multinationals too! Double damn!
On top of that, while he supports the free-market principles of expanding trade and opening markets with other countries, Correa is extremely leery of any free trade agreements with the US which he argues has way too big of a trade advantage and therefore would dominate a smaller country like Ecuador (he is probably right.). Instead, he has been pushing hard for more regional integration and economic interaction as a solution: encouraging the growth of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a stronger MERCOSUR, and even strengthening the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR-a real entity, but with not much economic firepower yet). He is much more interested in these distinctly Latin American trade blocks than any FTAA or other US-sponsored alternatives. Pushing perhaps for an EU of South America someday? Yes he is! Hell, maybe we should liken the idea more to a “United States of South America”...a concept whose time has probably come.
And that’s why I think its important for you to know this Correa character….because he is boldly putting forth a truly unique economic alternative that may be used as a model for other less developed, and quite frankly poorer, states of the world. Casting off international debt, lessening reliance on international financial institutions, renegotiating contracts with multinational companies to favor the state, and encouraging regional economic growth over international ties to huge economies…..taken together, this is potent stuff! And its a combination that has the US, the IMF, and Exxon a little worried. What would happen if all other poor countries followed suit? Yikes!
All of these actions of course put Correa in the left-hand column of the political and economic spectrum: a situation he is quite comfortable with, and quite frankly, he as a lot of leftist company nowadays too….so he ain’t gettin’ lonely. Not quite as radical as the nationalization champions Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, but more dedicated to immediate serious socialist reform than Lula da Silva and Michelle Bachelet, Rafael is showing a whole new way forward for all the leftist bunch leading Latin America today. He is one to keep an eye on to see how his path is working for Ecuador, and how it may be impacting the wider region and the world.
Plaidcasts Involving this Leader
- Correa on Democracy Now! part 1 of interview (YouTube)
- Correa on Democracy Now! part 2 of interview (YouTube)
- Correa on Democracy Now! part 3 of interview (YouTube)
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