Guillermo Lasso, a center-right politician, was sworn in President of Ecuador on May 24 after 18 years of socialist governance. As Ecuador will open its economy to the free market, Jair Bolsonaro was one of the only Presidents who came in person to the ceremony.
Guillermo Lasso, 65, was elected President of Ecuador on April 11, with 52% of the votes. Sworn into office on May 24, he is the first right-wing President of Ecuador in 18 years. Economically speaking, the former banker is a convinced liberal in favour of privatizing national assets and opening the economy to the free market, and especially to its allies. “Today, Ecuador declares it opens its doors to world trade“, Guillermo Lasso said during the inauguration. The country, which suffered from the oil price crisis and more recently from the pandemic, is in fact in a difficult economic situation with a recession of 7.8% in 2020.
And Jair Bolsonaro, one of the only conservative leaders in Latin America, was one of the few who travelled to Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, to attend to the ceremony.
Along with the Brazilian president, the King Felipe VI also attended the event. Luis Abinader, the Dominican Republic President, who comes from a social democrat party, and Jovenel Moïse, the contested President of Haiti in the middle of steep political turmoil, were the other executive heads of state at the ceremony.
Bolsonaro traveled to Ecuador unlike most of the other regional leaders
The Presidents of Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, three of the four other right-wing Presidents in the region cancelled at last minute. Mr Piñera was reportedly busy working on modifying his government after elections related to the modifications of the Constitution spurred by protests in 2019. Mr Pou, who was elected after 15 years of a left-leaning Presidency, decided to stay in Uruguay after his Minister of Interior died of a heart attack. And the Colombian president, Iván Duque, had planned to attend the ceremony but he chose to stay home because of the internal political and economic crisis that the country is currently struggling with. Guatemala, the other right-leaning country, was represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs.
This was how most of the Latin and Central American countries were represented. Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, and Argentina, all led by left-leaning Presidents, had only the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the ceremony. The United States delegation was led by Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who praised the free elections that occurred in Ecuador.
For Bolsonaro, if the political symbol is strong, it has also an economic perspective. In fact, Brazil is one of the most important business partners of Ecuador: a third of Ecuadorian imports come from Brazil. And despite the fact that Brazil exports to Ecuador only account for 0.3% of external sales in 2020, the positive trade balance of US $512 million. Similar to the trade balance with Argentina, Ecuador is far from neglectable. And Jair Bolsonaro decided to personally travel to the ceremony, unlike most of his counterparts.
Media sources and useful links:
- Flexible learning will be the norm – CHEd, The Manilla Times, May 2021, Free access