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Wed. February 21, 2024
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Ecuador’s Constitutional Hopes
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By Adam Kott. Rafael Correa is hoping that Sunday’s referendum vote to enact his nation’s 20th constitution since 1830 will be the last vote needed for a long time. The Ecuadoran president is the third South American leader in the past two years to push for a new constitution that would drastically increase the powers of the executive branch. It appears that Mr. Correa is following in the footsteps of his ideological allies, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales despite his constant attempts to separate himself from these two men. Amongst the constitutional changes would be a provision that allows Correa to run for two more consecutive terms. This power grab could leave him in office until 2017. If enacted, the new constitution would allow the president to have more control over the Central Bank and the ability to dissolve Congress at his will. Critics of the new policies claim that the president would unfairly be able to distribute wealth equitably across his nation. Unfortunately for those people, Correa plans to do just this, and appears to have the overwhelming support of the middle and lower classes. In another unusual twist to the constitution, the nation’s natural ecosystems would gain inalienable rights such as the right to exist and regenerate its natural evolutionary cycles. The move is more talk than anything else. The rights to nature were given in response to the various natural disasters onset by multinational corporations. A current lawsuit pits Ecuador against Chevron for dumping billions of gallons of crude oil and toxic waste into the nation’s jungles. Despite Correa’s promises of progress the nation’s economy faces an uncertain future. While Ecuador contains a large amount of oil reserves foreign investment has dropped drastically in the past year. American and European confidence in the country plummeted after hearing the president’s plans for a new constitution. Additionally, in the past year Correa has overturned oil contracts with foreign companies. Like Chavez and Morales, Correa appears to be on the chase for the mythical Bolivarian Revolution. Perhaps he should begin looking at his failed economic policies instead, for despite windfall oil profits over a third of his nation’s people continue to live in poverty. How much will the new constitution change the life of the everyday Ecuadoran? For the nation’s lowest classes, Correa has promised to increase a monthly stipend given to 1.2 million citizens. The president fails to realize that throwing money at Ecuador’s poor will not increase the overall standard of living nor will it create any sort of sustainable development in the nation. This explains why the small South American nation is ranked 88th in the world in GDP per capita, and was one of the slowest growing nations in the world in 2007. Correa’s successes are limited but his youthful idealism has certainly turned a lot of heads. The world will patiently wait to see whether “21st century socialism” will pay off in dividends.

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