In Ecuador, a presidential election under the sign of fear

Progressive Luisa Gonzalez is the only woman in the running. This close friend of former socialist president Rafael Correa had been well ahead of voting intentions with her campaign centered on the failure of conservative governments in the social and health fields. Some analysts already imagined that she could win the ballot in the first round.

The theme of insecurity dominates

But the assassination last week, of its main competitor, the centrist and champion of the fight against corruption Fernando Villavicencio, has changed the situation: Ecuadorians will go to the polls with fear in their stomachs. The theme of insecurity has entirely dominated the debates in recent days. And he could favor candidates who propose a strong hand policy against drug cartels and other mafias. Like outsider Jan Topic, a former French legionnaire who made his fortune in the security equipment sector. While the indigenous and environmentalist candidate, Yaku Perez, was only slightly audible on this home stretch.

As for Christian Zuritawho replaced his slain former friend and colleague Fernando Villavicencio at the last minute, he was only able to campaign for a single day.

In a country that has long since ceased to be an “island of peace”, the population will vote with its guts more than with its head, according to analyst Alfredo Davalos, interviewed by our correspondent in Quito, Eric Samson : “ I always believed that this vote would be totally visceral. I think there will be a vote to punish the inefficiency of the government of Guillermo Lasso, a vote of anger from the citizens, but the question is who will be able to channel and recover this anger. »

People have to react »

One thing is certain, according to political scientist Gustavo Isch, it will not be candidate Luisa Gonzalez, who has long topped the polls: “ The movement of former President Correa and his candidate Luisa González were very affected by the assassination of Villavicencio because the latter accused them of wanting his death and all his declarations were taken up in all the media. »

On the contrary, the journalist Christian Zurita, who replaced Villavicencio, attracts new voters like Silvana Ruales: “ Villavicencio created his movement around his ideas to fight against corruption and mafias. Villavicencio can’t have died for nothing. People have to react “. Another candidate is also on the rise, former foreign legion sniper and paratrooper Jan Topic and his tough anti-crime rhetoric.

A crucial referendum on the future of oil exploitation in indigenous Amazonian land

This Sunday, August 20, Ecuadorians will also have to vote by referendum on the future of oil exploitation within a natural park. Called for by an environmental group, this national consultation could well be a game-changer on a very profitable deposit for the country, block 43, which provides 12% of the country’s black gold production. This deposit is located in Yasuni Park. A biodiversity reserve with one million hectares of rainforest. A historic territory of the natives where several communities still live in voluntary isolation, fleeing modern civilization. This Amazonian park represents “ a lung for the world according to scientists and environmental defenders, recently supported by actor Leonardo DiCaprio committed to the fight against global warming. The Block 43 deposit has been controversial since the start of oil exploitation in 2013, an exploitation approved by the Parliament of the time and supported by the former left-wing president Rafael Correa.

We have to win this consultation. The Ecuadorian people must say yes to the Yasuni reservebelieves Leonidas Iza, president of Conaie – the powerful confederation of indigenous nationalities -. We are extracting oil, draining the blood of mother earth and causing a lot of damage. Environmental contamination affects soil and water. And the people who live there are practically bloodless. The struggle of the natives is to save life, to save the forest, to save the Andes. We believe that we must stand against an economic model that exploits the raw materials of our earth in order to accumulate benefits for a certain group, while at the same time this model affects the resources of all human beings. »

Voters will decide this Sunday and it looks tight according to the latest polls. The current government opposed to this consultation advances its arguments: losses estimated at 16.5 billion dollars over twenty years if block 43 were revoked.

Read alsoEcuador: who is the journalist Christian Zurita, candidate in place of his murdered colleague

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