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The Political Legacy of President Rafael Correa

Correa at the rally

It is not in any way ventured to say that the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa Delgado, who ends his term in May 2017 after a decade as undisputed leader of the political movement Alianza País, leaves an impressive legacy of political, economic, social and cultural transformations that will determine the future of his country and the destiny of the Ecuadorian people for good. Analysts, however, prefer and agree to use the cliché expression "time will allow to understand the dimension of the legacy" of the Socialist leader.

The "Decade won" as President Correa called it in his latest report to the nation, the period started in 2007 up to the present, is unquestionably a stage of breakthroughs and progress for the country in different areas. "Economic, social and political progress was historical and astonished the whole world. All this in an atmosphere of sovereignty, dignity, autonomy, with presence in the continent and the planet", Correa told supporters of the Alianza País in the 5th National Convention of the political movement.1

The average economic growth over the period 2007-2017 was 3.9 percent, while the growth in Latin America was only 2.9 percent. And despite the difficult economic conditions, Ecuador continues to have 5.4 percent unemployment, one of the lowest rates in the continent.

The “Citizen Revolution” (Revolución Ciudadana) and the consecutive Governments of Rafael Correa implemented a clear policy of recovery and strengthening the role of the State to promote the redistribution of wealth and achieve social justice. That way social investment in education, health, social security and welfare was increased to 85 billions. Thanks to these public policies the multidimensional poverty, which is the most comprehensive criterion of poverty, was lowered in 16.5 points which meant that one million came out of poverty.

The advances made in the distribution of income are also impressive. In 2007 the owners of the capital took over 36 per cent of national income, today the workers are the one who get 37 per cent of the income.2

No doubt the "Decade won", it has been a decade of profound economic, political, social and cultural transformations for the Ecuadorian people, driven by the Alianza País political movement under the charismatic leadership of President Correa.

The program that “Citizen Revolution” offered to the country when it took office in January 2007, and that it has oriented its actions throughout the period, included ten central themes of transformation or revolutions as also called. The first of these was the constitutional revolution, which resulted in the drafting of a new Constitution and establishing the institutional framework of the extraordinary political changes that would happen. Then, there is the economic revolution that implies a radical change in the economic model, from one neo-liberal to a solidarity-based economy model that’s privileges people over the capital. The Social Revolution that poses a new policy of social inclusion and is expressed in significant social investment in education, health and social security. And it also includes the Latin American Integration, Ethics, Judiciary, Environmental, Urban, Cultural and Knowledge revolutions.3

Important progress has been made in each of the programmatic proposals and in some of them, as their name implies, real revolutions have happened.

The Alianza Pais’s program for the period 2017-2021, which now leads the would be President Lenin Moreno, promises to continue promoting the same ten pillars and they have included two new which are the agrarian revolution and the revolution of the youth.

Rafael Correa is one of the founders of the Alianza País political movement along with a group of intellectual, social and political leaders. The conviction of the urgent need for the political unity of the popular movement, his unwavering struggle to build the unity and to keep it, is another significant aspect of his political legacy.

The emergence of the Alianza País dates back to the year 2005, occasion in which a group of social and political organizations realized of the need for joining efforts to build a broad national political project. The founding organizations include Iniciativa Ciudadana (Citizen Initiative), Acción Demócratica Nacional (National Democratic Action) Movimiento Alianza Alfarista Bolivariano, (Alfarista Bolivarian Alliance Movement), Colectivo Jubileo 2000 (Jubilee 2000 Group) and the Partido Socialista Frente Amplio (Socialist Party faction).4

In 1999, Ecuador experienced one of the worst economic crises in its history as a result of the application of neoliberal policies. The financial system went bankruptcy and the consequent "bailout" of the banking system was carried out. The economic crisis gave way to the political crisis, which is characterized by great instability of the successive right wing governments. In that scenario Rafael Correa, leader of the brand new political movement Alianza País, ran as a candidate in the presidential elections and defeat, in second turn with the 56.67 percent of the votes, to the rightist entrepreneur candidate Álvaro Noboa.

Socialist LeadersRafael Correa, an economist by profession with academic studies in the United States and Belgium, took over as President of the Republic of Ecuador on January 15, 2007, initiating a unprecedented political process in the history of Latin America known as “Revolución Ciudadana”. Three months later, on April 15, by the Presidential Decree 002 he convenes a National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente) initiative which obtained the 81.5 per cent of citizen’s approval. In the elections, Alianza País got 80 of the 130 seats to form the National Constituent Assembly, and there were these women and men who would define the new Constitution representative of the new correlation of political forces in the country. This act of true popular sovereignty showed early on, the revolutionary character of the political process opened by President Correa, starting by this way the profound transformation of the current neoliberal and capitalist system. The new Constitution "marked a before and an after in terms of the long and sad neo-liberal night. We moved on from that night without dreams to the shared dreams of the socialism of the 21st century", said Correa in his speech to the nation.

The Ecuadorian Socialist leader, in more than one occasion, has pointed out that Chile was scenario of the first experience of democratic socialism in Latin America. So, in one of his official trip to the country and after visiting the tomb of the Martyr President declared that he was "inspiration and an example of consistency. We will continue with the struggle of President Salvador Allende".

One might conclude, then, that the “Citizen Revolution”, one of the most successful models of democratic socialism in Latin America, over a decade and with its profound economic, political, cultural and social transformations, is undeniably the fundamental legacy of Rafael Correa. And, of course, the time will allow a better understanding of the dimension of his work and legacy.


Written by Rolando H. Vergara. The author is a researcher of the Latin American Research Institute (LARI), Canada.

Notes:

1. Rafael Correa, Speech to 5th National Convention of Alianza País, Quito, October 2016.

2. Rafael Correa, Report to the Nation "The Decade Won", National Assembly, Quito, May 2016, pág. 19.

3. Ibid., pág. 41.

4. See "History of the Creation of the Political Movement Alianza País".