Ecuador elects this Sunday president among 16 candidates, although only three of them arrive with options to go to the second round.
The left starts as a favorite with two cards: a dolphin from former president Rafael Correa and an indigenous environmentalist, while the right figures its options on a former conservative banker.
If the polls do not fail, among the three will be the successor of Lenín Moreno, the unpopular president who changed his allies in power after conquering the polls with the support of Correa in 2017.
He is 35 years old and until recently he presented himself as a “perfect stranger.” But behind Andrés Arauz is the long shadow of Rafael Correa. The former president deposited in this young economist his options to regain power for the radical and nationalist left.
Arauz headed the Central Bank and was Minister of Knowledge and Human Talent under Correa (2007-2017).
Andrés Arauz, the delín of Rafael Correa. Photo: REUTERS
“You are greeted by the perfect stranger who knows and loves Ecuador and who today is committed to bringing our people out of the health and economic crisis,” he said on Twitter when he was running for the presidential seat.
He was born in Quito, he is married to Mariana Véliz, with whom he has a son. He defines himself as a patriot, a democrat and a progressive. True to the correista creed, he labels Moreno a traitor. Arauz speaks English, French and Russian; plays piano and accordion.
His partner in the race for the presidency was Correa himself, but the former president was disqualified from running for the vice-presidency due to his pending cases with the courts, which sentenced him to eight years in prison for corruption.
The journalist Carlos Rabascall replaced Correa as Arauz’s running mate for the Unión por la Esperanza (Unes) coalition.
Arauz promised to pave the way for the return of Correa, who is considered a “politically persecuted”. The former president has been in Belgium – his wife’s native country – since he left power in 2017 and while there he has managed to avoid the Ecuadorian justice that, according to him, was manipulated by Moreno.
Voting intention for the presidential election in Ecuador this Sunday. / AFP
If the economist wins the elections, he hopes that, under his mandate, the judges will review the cases opened against Correa, although he could also issue him a pardon.
Former conservative banker Guillermo Lasso, 65, leads the opposition to Correismo and is running for the presidency for the third time, after his failed attempts in 2013 and 2017.
“We will turn the page of 21st century socialism (promoted by Correa) and we will enter a stage of full democracy, of freedom,” he said.
The candidate Guillermo Lasso, in a campaign event on Thursday. Photo: REUTERS
In his second attempt for office, he fell behind Moreno by just two percentage points on the ballot.
Lasso is the youngest of 11 siblings in a middle-class family and catapulted himself into a top banker with just three semesters of economics in tow. Between 1989 and 2012 he was vice president, manager and president of the private Bank of Guayaquil, one of the largest in Ecuador.
A member of Opus Dei and born in Guayaquil (southwest), he defines himself as “tolerant” and “democratic”. He is married to María de Lourdes Alcívar, with whom he has five children.
Represents his movement Creating Opportunities (I believe) in combination with the doctor Alfredo Borrero.
Lasso maintains that he worked since he was 15 years old, in the Guayaquil Stock Exchange, to pay his Catholic tuition. In the public area, he was Governor of the Guayas province (capital Guayaquil) and Secretary of State (superminister) for the Economy in the administration of the ousted former president Jamil Mahuad (1998-2000, right).
Lawyer Yaku Pérez, 51, plays the indigenous movement that in October 2019 rose up against Moreno, forcing him to backtrack on a controversial rise in fuel prices.
He defines himself as “environmentalist, leftist, communitarian, deeply respectful of human rights.”
His fierce opposition to mining displeased the Correa government and for defending access to water he was detained four times, on charges of sedition and terrorism, he told AFP.
Yaku Perez, on a bicycle, days ago in Cunca. Photo: REUTERS
The son of farm laborers, Pérez – current prefect (governor) of the province of Azuay (south) – promises to be “the first president who is the son of an illiterate person.” His mother Rosa only attended three years of school.
He was born in Cuenca, the capital of Azuay, and his original names were Carlos Ranulfo. In 2017 he changed legally and, in line with his love for nature, he chose Yaku Sacha, which in Quichua means “Water of the Mountain”.
He belongs to the thousand-year-old Kañari people, who live in the southern Andean region of Ecuador, where he emerged as an indigenous leader.
He plays the saxophone and accordion. He is an atheist and vegan, and he practices yoga. He campaigned on a bamboo bicycle.
He is a university professor and has published seven published books on indigenous and environmental issues.
He was widowed eight years ago, has two daughters, and his current partner is the Franco-Brazilian journalist Manuela Picq. He aspires to come to power through the Pachakutik party, the political arm of the majority Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie).