Introducing Ecuador's Lenin Moreno

Latin America
Ecuador
Lenin Moreno
Ecuador's new president, Lenin Moreno. Credit:  Agencia de Noticias ANDES

In a hotly contested April election, Ecuadorians replaced one Leftist president with another. The result was unusual in several ways.

Firstly, the new president, 64-year-old Lenin Moreno, is paraplegic and now the world’s only head of state in a wheelchair. In 2013, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy work for disabled people.

With Latin America’s Bolivarian and leftist wave in definite ebb (losses in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and a referendum defeat in Bolivia), Moreno’s election to replace Rafael Correa is a sign that the conservative drift on the continent may be slowing. And unlike Presidents to the north in Venezuela and to the south in Bolivia, Correa did not try to extend his term indefinitely, choosing instead to step down from power and break the identification of ‘21st century socialism’ with one particular leader. This proved quite successful – Moreno and his Alianza Pais party won nearly 52 per cent of the vote in the second round of the election, on 2 April this year.

Moreno, whose disability resulted from a brutal robbery, used laughter therapy as part of his recovery. He promises to continue ‘the revolution’ listening more closely to critics than Correa who faced charges of high-handed censorship and corruption. Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame, who resides in exile in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, was much relieved by Moreno’s victory since his opponent, conservative pro-austerity banker Guillermo Lasso, had promised save tax dollars by ending the offer of sanctuary.