Lenín Moreno


Lenín Boltaire Moreno Garcés (Spanish pronunciation: [leˈnin bolˈtai̯ɾe moˈɾeno ɣaɾˈses]; born 19 March 1953) is an Ecuadorian politician who is the current President of Ecuador, in office since May 2017. Moreno was Vice President from 2007 to 2013, serving under President Rafael Correa.

Lenín Moreno
46th President of Ecuador
Assumed office
24 May 2017
Vice PresidentJorge Glas
María Vicuña
Otto Sonnenholzner
Preceded byRafael Correa
47th Vice President of Ecuador
In office
15 January 2007  24 May 2013
PresidentRafael Correa
Preceded byAlejandro Serrano
Succeeded byJorge Glas
United Nations Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility
In office
19 December 2013  30 September 2016
Secretary GeneralBan Ki-moon
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMaria Soledad Cisternas Reyes
President of the PAIS Alliance
Assumed office
1 May 2017
Preceded byRafael Correa
Personal details
Born
Lenín Boltaire Moreno Garcés

(1953-03-19) 19 March 1953 (age 66)
Nuevo Rocafuerte, Ecuador
Political partyPAIS Alliance
Spouse(s)
Rocío González (m. 1974)
Children3
ResidenceCarondelet Palace
Alma materCentral University of Ecuador
Signature

He was nominated as the candidate for Correa's PAIS Alliance, a centre-left, democratic socialist[1] political party, in the 2017 presidential election and won a narrow victory in Ecuador's second round of voting on 2 April 2017.[2] However, after his election Moreno drastically shifted his political stance, distancing himself from Correa's leftist legacy and making neoliberal changes to both domestic and foreign policy.[3][4]

Moreno was shot in 1998 in a robbery attempt and thereafter has used a wheelchair. For his advocacy for people with disabilities, he was nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.[5] When he assumed office on 24 May 2017, Moreno became the world’s only currently serving head of state to use a wheelchair.[6]

Background

Childhood

Lenín Moreno was born into a middle-class family in Nuevo Rocafuerte, a small town in the Ecuadorian Amazon, near the Peruvian border. His father, Servio Tulio Moreno, was a teacher who promoted bilingual education and integrated schools for indigenous children and mestizo children and later a senator. His parents named him after their favorite authors; his father idolized Vladimir Lenin and his mother liked Voltaire, although an error in the civil registration turned his middle name into Boltaire[7][8] (in Latin American Spanish the letters v and b tend to be substituted alternatively because they represent the same phoneme)[9]. He moved to Quito with his family when he was three years old.[10]

Education

Moreno studied in Quito at the Instituto Nacional Mejía (Mejia National Institute), the Colegio Nacional Sebastián Benalcázar (Sebastian Benalcazar National School), and the Universidad Central del Ecuador (Central University of Ecuador), where he earned a degree in Public Administration and was honored as the best graduate. He studied psychology.[11]

Career

Moreno began his career in 1976 as the director of the Continental Professional Training Center. He went on to become Director of OMC Publigerencia Andina, sales manager of Satho and marketing manager of Zitro, all located in Ecuador. Then he moved to the public sector, taking an administrative post with the Minister of Government. He worked extensively in the public tourism industry. He founded the Chamber of Tourism of Pichincha, a province in Ecuador, and was Executive Director of the National Federation of Tourism Chambers and Executive Director of the Chamber of Tourism of Pichincha, between 1997 and 1999.

Politics and awards

Moreno has earned numerous awards while serving as vice president of Ecuador: the "Fray Jodoco Ricke" Award; the Order of the Sun of Peru in the rank of Grand Cross; and the Order of Merit to the Democracy, presented by the governments of Peru, Guatemala and Colombia, respectively. He was also recognized unanimously by the Council of the Metropolitan District of Quito with the order of Gran Collar Sebastian Benalcazar. He has received various Honoris Causa awards, from the University of the Americas (Ecuador) [es], Universidad Tecnica del Norte del Ecuador (Technical University of Northern Ecuador) and the Universidad San Martin de Colombia (San Martin University of Colombia). He earned a Honoris Causa Masters, from the Business School (ESAE), Spain, on 25 November 2011.

Moreno was appointed as Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in December 2013.[12]

Eventa Foundation

After being shot, Moreno created the "Eventa" foundation to promote humor and joy as a way of life based on his personal experiences.

He is the author of numerous books on his theory of humor, including: Filosofía para la vida y el trabajo ("Philosophy for life and work"), Teoría y Práctica del Humor ("Theory and Practice of Comedy"), Ser Feliz es Fácil y Divertido ("Being Happy is Easy and Fun"), Los Mejores Chistes del Mundo ("World's Best Jokes"), Humor de los Famosos ("Humor of the Famous"), Trompabulario, Ríase, no sea enfermo ("Laugh, don’t be sick") and Cuentos no Ecológicos ("Non-Ecological Tales").[13]

Vice Presidency

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During his first year in the office of Vice President, Moreno investigated the state of disabled people in Ecuador. At the time the government’s entire budget for disabled services was approximately US$100,000. Moreno increased the budget for disabled people more than fifty-fold. The state currently assists over 600,000 disabled Ecuadorians, and provides housing and income for 15,000 people and prostheses for another 4,000.[8]

Through his 'Ecuador without Borders' programme, rights for disabled people were introduced in laws passed in 2007 and 2012, and in the 2008 constitution, that empowered Ecuador's disabled; measures included in 2010 requiring companies with over 25 employees to have at least 4% of their staff people with disabilities.[14]

He also founded the Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission for the Disabled [es], which offers rehab, technical help, and psychological support to thousands of disabled Ecuadorians. Between 2009 and 2010 the Solidarity Mission sent Ecuadorean and Cuban doctors[14] to over 1.2 million homes around the country and interviewed nearly 300,000 disabled people to find out what needs were most pressing. Many of those people received free medical checkups. And now the Solidarity Mission is spreading to Paraguay, Peru, Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador and Colombia.[15]

Moreno left the vice presidency on 24 May 2013 and was succeeded by Jorge Glas.[16] He was the first vice president to complete his term since 1992.

Nobel nomination

Moreno was nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize by Celso Maldonado, Vice President of the People with Disabilities Commission of the Ecuadorian National Assembly.[17] Moreno's work for people with disabilities earned him support by the 19 members of the Special Olympics' Latin America region, former Ecuadorian foreign minister José Ayala Lasso, and several public and private institutions in Ecuador.[18]

Presidency of Ecuador

Moreno, first lady Rocío González Navas and his predecessor Rafael Correa, 3 April 2017.

On 1 October 2016, Moreno was nominated as a candidate for the 2017 presidential election at the conference of Alianza País. The statement was made by President Rafael Correa.

In 19 February 2017 election, Moreno won the elections with 39.3% of the vote. However he was short by less than one percentage point of outright victory, as Ecuador requires in its two-round system.[19] In 2 April 2017 runoff, he defeated Guillermo Lasso, with 51.16% of the vote.[20][21]

Presidency

Within months of winning the election, Moreno started moving away from his election platform,[22] thus igniting a feud with ex-president Rafael Correa. Later in 2019, through a referendum,[23] Moreno reversed several key pieces of legislation passed by the Correa administration that targeted wealthy individuals and banks. He also reversed a previous referendum allowing indefinite re-election, thereby blocking future electoral bids by Correa, and established the Consejo de Participación Ciudadana y Control Social Transitorio [es] (CPCCS-T), which has supra-constitutional powers,[24] to "evaluate control authorities and judges", with the aim of removing what remains of Correa's influence.

Since the creation of CPCCS-T, Moreno has used it to oust and replace government officials, provincial judges, the judicial council, and the National Electoral Council (CNE).[25][26][27][28][29]

Lenin Moreno's government adopted a conservative policy: reduction of public spending, trade liberalization, and flexibility of the labour code. The Productive Development Act enshrines an austerity policy, and reduces the development and redistribution policies of the previous mandate. In the area of taxes, the authorities aim to "encourage the return of investors" by granting amnesty to fraudsters and proposing measures to reduce tax rates for large companies. In addition, the government waives the right to tax increases in raw material prices and foreign exchange repatriations.[30]

Moreno with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, 26 July 2018.

Moreno's government supported plans for oil drilling in Ecuador's Amazon region.[31]

With regard to public expenditure, the State can no longer increase public expenditure by more than 3% per year and restricts budget deficits to the repayment of interest on debt. Investments are thus significantly reduced, while privatizations are facilitated through subsidies guaranteed over several years. The government adopts the international system of dispute arbitration for all foreign investments, which is in violation of the Constitution. The first article of the Organic Law on the Defence of Labour Rights is deleted: it allowed the authorities to prosecute owners of companies that have harmed the interests of their employees by concealing resources or emptying the workshops of their machines.

Lenin Moreno announced in February 2019 that he had obtained a loan of more than $10 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, with which the previous government had broken off, "at rates below 5% on average and for terms of up to 30 years".[32]

In June 2019, Moreno's government faced protests from environmentalist, indigenous and self-described patriotic groups after he permitted the US military to use the airbase on Galápagos Islands.[33][34]

He faced yet more protests in September 2019, as pro-choice demonstrators protested the fact that Ecuador had failed to pass proposed legislation, which would have relaxed the nation's strict abortion laws to allow for abortion in the case of rape.[35]

On 2 October 2019, President Lenín Moreno declared the abolishment of fuel subsidies, which in turn triggred the start 2019 Ecuadorian protests. The government was forced to move from Quito to Guayaquil after effectively losing control of the capital to demonstrators.[36] Seven people were killed and 2,100 were arrested before Moreno signed directive 883, restoring the subsidies, which ended the protests on 13 October.[37]

Allegations of corruption

In March 2019, the INA papers scandal sparked a congressional corruption probe into Moreno.[38][39]

Mueller investigation

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team had been investigating a meeting between former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and President Moreno in Quito in 2017. Moreno talked with Manafort about removing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and his extradition to the United States.[40]

Foreign policies

Moreno with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 20 July 2019

Following a June 2018 visit by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who agreed with President Moreno to improve the US-Ecuador relations which were strained under the presidency of Rafael Correa, Ecuador launched a security effort with the United States, including buying weapons, radar sets, six helicopters and other equipment, as well as cooperation with the U.S. that would include training and intelligence sharing.[41] Pence and Moreno also spoke about Julian Assange.[38]

In August 2018, Ecuador withdrew from ALBA, a regional bloc led by Venezuela, in a bid to further distance itself from that country’s socialist state and to be more “independent” of organizations that are trying to impose “specific views” on Latin America’s social and political issues.[42]

In January 2019, Moreno supported Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's claim to the Presidency of Venezuela, thus moving Ecuador away from its previous support of Nicolás Maduro.[43]

In early 2019 the IMF approved a $4.2bn loan for Ecuador.[44] In April 2019 the World Bank approved the Social Safety Net Project for Ecuador.[45]

After imposing new restrictions on Julian Assange, who had been given political asylum in Ecuador's London embassy since 2012,[46][47][48] on 11 April 2019, Ecuador revoked his asylum, with Moreno saying Ecuador had "reached its limit on the behaviour of Mr Assange", allowing the Metropolitan Police to arrest him in the embassy.[49]

By Mid 2019, he moved Ecuador's diplomatic position closer to the United States as he allowed the US to use an airbase on the Galápagos Islands.[50]

Approval rating

Moreno enjoyed a popularity rating as high as 77% shortly after his election in 2017. His approval dropped slightly to around 69% by the start of 2018, before dropping to 45.% by mid 2018 and further fell to under 30% by mid 2019.[51][52][53]

References

  1. Ortiz-T., Pablo (2008), "Ecuador", The Indigenous World 2008, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, p. 147
  2. "Ecuador's ruling-party candidate Moreno declared presidential winner". ABC News.
  3. https://mondediplo.com/2018/12/06ramirez
  4. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/13/morenos-neoliberal-restoration-proceeds-in-ecuador/
  5. "Secretary-General Appoints Lenín Voltaire Moreno Garces of Ecuador Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility" (Press release). United Nations. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  6. Londoño, Ernesto (7 April 2017). "Ecuador Elects World's Only Head of State in a Wheelchair". New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  7. "Elecciones en Ecuador: quién es Lenín Moreno, el rostro conciliador que sucederá a Rafael Correa". Clarín (in Spanish). 3 April 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2018. Nació allí porque sus padres -profesores- decidieron trabajar en Nuevo Rocafuerte, que aún hoy no tiene conexión por carretera. Un error en la inscripción en el Registro Civil hizo que su segundo nombre fuera Boltaire, en vez de Voltaire. "Papá era de ideas socialistas y mamá de ideas liberales. A ellos les gustaba mucho leer; a papá, Lenín; y a mamá, Voltaire", explicó.
  8. Watts, Jonathan (19 February 2013). "Ecuador's Lenín Moreno gives revolutionary turn by quitting while on top". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
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  11. "Biografía".
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  18. "Lenin Moreno entra a la lista para terciar por premio Nobel" El Universo. 7 April 2012.
  19. In the Ecuadorian system, to avoid a runoff a candidate needs either to win 50 percent of the first-round vote or to take 40 percent of the vote and be at least 10 percent ahead of the runner-up. (Guillermo Lasso had obtained 28.09%, so had Moreno gained 40 percent, then he would have won by the 40-10 rule.)
  20. "El Futuro Es Ahora".
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  52. Press, Associated (5 February 2018). "Ecuador votes to limit presidents' terms in blow to Rafael Correa". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
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