ECUADOR. DANIEL NOBOA ELECTED PRESIDENT
(October 20th, 2023)
QUITO. Daniel Noboa, son of the richest man in Ecuador, will be President of the Republic from December: with 52% of the votes he beat Luisa González, candidate of Revolución Ciudadana, the political group promoted by former President Rafael Correa, on 15 October in the decisive runoff.
His mandate, however, will last just 16 months and will end in May 2025, when whoever is elected in the presidential elections in February of that year will take office.
These elections, which we would define as intermediate, were decreed in May by the incumbent President Guillermo Lasso: in a crisis of popularity and at risk of impeachment, he applied a rule present in the constitution, known as “muerte cruzada”.
He dissolved the national assembly, which was about to remove him, and called legislative and presidential elections for the following 20 August.
BLOOD ON THE VOTE
As is known, the electoral campaign for the first round was marred by the assassination of the anti-corruption journalist Fernando Villavicencio, candidate of the Movimiento Construye: on 9 August he was shot dead by drug traffickers’ hitmen. 
It’s not the only political murder that has marked Ecuadorian public life in recent months: mayors, parliamentary candidates, social activists have fallen under the blows of the killers.
According to police, since the beginning of the year, at least 3,500 people have been killed across the country.
The prisons then became a place of conflict between rival gangs:
On 22 July, for example, the inmates of the Deprivation of Liberty Center no. 1 of Guayas, located in Guayaquil, the second largest city, where the most important port in Ecuador is located, clashed at gunpoint.
The authorities sent 2,700 policemen and soldiers to restore order and put an end to the fighting in which 31 people lost their lives, according to data provided by the Prosecutor’s Office.
During these operations, uniformed officers seized an arsenal of long-range rifles, grenade launchers, ammunition and explosives.
Hours later, inmates in 13 of the country’s 35 prisons began a hunger strike and took about a hundred guards hostage.
President Lasso’s response? proclamation of a state of emergency in several provinces of the country.
Many analysts doubt that this measure will put an end to the recurring violence in prisons which, according to Human Rights Watch, has caused more than 400 deaths since 2021.
The Villavicencio crime, images of which went around the world, highlighted what is the dominant issue in the Latin American country today: the violence caused by drug cartels of Colombian and Mexican origin, but also indigenous, who exploit the port of Guayaquil, on the Pacific, as a hub for international drug trafficking:«Ecuador’s main problem in relation to the geopolitics of drug trafficking is given by its territorial position close to Colombia and Peru, the main producers of cocaine in the world, as well as the weakness of integrated border controls that facilitate the entry of drug. subsequently transported to strategic points on the coastal profile and to Guayaquil”, the police themselves wrote in a report published in July.
The same document recognizes that the lack of state control over maritime and air territory facilitates the departure of planes and ships from ports, almost without any control: since 2019 the quantity of drugs seized in the country has almost tripled, rising to 201 tonnes compared to 79.5 taken in 2019. The government tends to minimize the phenomenon, but the Ecuadorian journalist Carolina Mella, who writes in El País, says: «Violence has begun to spread throughout the country. On the coast because drug trafficking needs ports, in the mountains because there are storage centers, including Quito.»
The porosity of borders does the rest: what’s more, thedollarization of the national economy facilitates the laundering of “dirty money” which is easily transformed into “clean money”.
In a word, is Ecuador preparing to become a narcostate?
As already mentioned, the new president is the son of the richest man in the country, Álvaro Noboa Pontón ((Guayaquil, 1950) who tried to get elected to the highest state office five times without succeeding.
The fortune of the dynasty took off with Exportadora Bananera Noboa which his father expanded: in addition to the marketing of bananas, a very vast and branched network of activities was incorporated into the holding.
Daniel, born on November 30, 1987, studied at prestigious universities in the United States: he graduated in Business Administration from New York University, Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, as well as a master’s degree in Governance and political communication from George Washington University.
At 18 he founded DNA Entertainment Group, a company for the organization of public events, which later allowed him to enter politics.
in 2021, he is a deputy in the National Assembly with Acción Democrática Nacional (ADN) and president of the economic development commission.
After the dissolution of parliament, decided in May by Guillermo Lasso, he presented himself in the ADN primaries to obtain the nomination as presidential candidate.
On August 20, the first round for the highest office, he qualified for the run-off: with 24% he placed himself behind RC candidate Luisa González (35%).
Behind them are all the other competitors.
It defines itself as centre-left because it promises to support the LGBT+ community and invest money in education.
However, its vice president, Verónica Abad, is openly right-wing: admirer of Trump and Bolsonaro and advocate of massive privatizations in health, education and welfare services.
During the election campaign, Noboa stated that the private sector is the one that generates employment and must be strengthened through tax exemption: for example, to give oxygen back to construction she proposes lowering VAT on construction materials. This would push entrepreneurs to hire staff to complete the many unfinished public works.
To fight crime you propose to set up floating prisons that would transport the most dangerous criminals out to sea.
in this way, he argues, they would be prevented from acting on national territory.
“The barges – says Noboa – would be a temporary measure, while we restructure the entire prison system.”
You then propose to punish small-time drug users, create juries that issue sentences against the mafias and invest money to purchase drones and radars that monitor the activities of drug traffickers from above even in the mountainous regions of the country.
He proposes to exempt capital transfers abroad, maintain dollarization and attract investments from US companies.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
His administration should invest funds to relaunch education, professional training and universities, spreading the use of new technologies.
As already mentioned, Noboa will have, upon taking office, a temporally limited mandate: only sixteen months.
Furthermore, Ecuador will soon enter an electoral climate again, so it is difficult for the proposals put forward by the winning candidate to be implemented, also considering that her party gets 12 seats in the National Assembly which has 137.
The largest parliamentary group is Revolución Ciudadana (50), followed by Construye, the political force of Villavicencio (27).
The picture is completed by a scattering of small parties, even made up of just one deputy.
Like many Latin American presidents, Noboa, unable to count on the certain support of the legislature, will have to form a coalition that supports him along the way.
In this sense, some steps will be decisive for the construction of a network of allies: choice of ministers, deputies and managers of state-controlled companies.
The president will always be able to issue immediately executive decrees: Noboa entertains the idea of running again in the 2025 elections to obtain a full four-year mandate.
He’ll only be able to achieve it if he keeps his promise to restore peace to a country shaken by brutal and pervasive violence that risks transforming it into yet another failed state.
PIER LUIGI GIACOMONI
 The perpetrators of the Villavicencio murder were strangled in the prisons where they were locked up awaiting trial in the imminence of the run-off round.