For the third time in eight years, Ecuadorians woke up to a new president this morning.
Before we get to the media coverage, here’s my quick take on the situation. Someone just asked me what’s “the story” here, and whether the new president will be any better than Lucio. Here’s what I told him:
The story is this: Ecuador is messed up. The government doesn’t work. There’s vast corruption. Gutierrez, in order to gain the support of the country’s vast poor population, made campaign promises (social programs, etc.) that he couldn’t keep. He had to embrace conservative fiscal policy in order to get international monetary aid, and never had high approval ratings after breaking with a major indigenous party after they’d helped him gain office.
The new president will be no better–as we saw in Bolivia in 2003, when their president was similarly ousted and replaced by his VP, who is himself now under pressure to resign, protesters who see that they’re able to overthrow a president before his term is up only become emboldened over time. Sadly, the prospects for Ecuador are not good.
It’ll be interesting to see how far the new prez will go in throwing bones to the rival parties; anti-Americanism is on the rise, and the US has an important military base in Manta, on the northern coast, from which Plan Colombia coca eradication flights have reportedly being launched. And Gutierrez was a staunch supporter of Dubya.
Here’s what some notable voices are saying the day after Lucio’s ouster:
Reuters: “US urges new elections in Ecuador after ouster.”
BBC News: ” Ecuador’s ousted President Lucio Gutierrez has been granted political asylum in Brazil, a day after he was removed from office by Congress.”
The Economist has a nice overview of Lucio’s troubles: “A coup by Congress and the street.”
Romulo Lopez, who publishes a Spanish-language Weblog about Ecuador, says that essentially nothing has changed; Ecuador has effectively swapped one bad president for another.