By Pedro Campos
“Ecuador has a future.” “It needs a social democrat party.” -General Paco Moncayo, the Democratic Left’s presidential candidate in Ecuador.
HAVANA TIMES — As we’re so used to having just one media outlet in Cuba which only mentions President Correa in Ecuador, very few Cubans know that there is a coalition of 24 left-wing and center parties and groups, called the National Agreement for Change, which is made up of the Democratic Left Party, the indigenous Pachakutik movement and the Popular Unity Party, among others, which are taking part in the election campaign leading up to the presidential elections which will take place on Sunday February 19.
Their candidate is the retired general Paco Moncayo, from the Democratic Left, who himself said, “I’m not a bureaucratic socialist, I’m a democratic socialist.” Born in Quito in 1940, Moncayo is the son of a lawyer-congressman and became a popular hero in the war against Peru at El Alto Cenepa, in the Andes mountain range, 1994-95, Ecuador’s only military victory in the 20th century. As well as his military studies, he graduated with a degree in International Science, specializing in Economy and Integration.
Moncayo has played an important political role at difficult moments in the country’s recent history. He was a key player in overthrowing Abdala Bucaram in 1997, when he announced as Major of the Armed Forces that they wouldn’t interfere in political affairs but would act professionally.
As a military man, he reached the highest rank of Army General, the highest position in the Armed Forces and has received several medals. After retiring, he became an active player in the national political arena and was elected congressman, member of the National Assembly and Mayor of Quito for two terms, for the Democratic Left party.
His running mate is 40 year old Monserrat Bustamante, an academic and professor in Business Science and Marketing from Guayaquil. The young woman has no public ties to politics.
Their program prioritizes national unity and overcoming the extreme division in Ecuadorian society brought on by the Rafael Correa led government, questioning the omnipresence of the State, and proposes to reduce this drastically to leave only 16 of today’s 50 government bodies and Ministries in place, as part of an austerity plan.
At the heart of their agenda is achieving social justice within a context of full realization of freedom, with the progress of a productive and stable economy, along with promoting ethical values, fighting against corruption, defending and deepening democracy, strengthening local governments, civil society and putting society at the center of public life.
They want to create almost half a million new jobs developing a vast project of public works with reforestation plans, giving 3 million Ecuadorians access to drinking water and pushing both the farming and tourism sectors.
The platform favors keeping dollarization, which benefits the country in opening up its market to the world, ensuring currency stability and transaction ease in international trade and in receiving loans from international monetary bodies. The coalition believes that the Value Added Tax (VAT) should be reduced from the current 14% to 10% and that a favorable environment be created for businesses.
In this regard, they propose an ethical agreement of tax obligations with businesses to prevent tax evasion, while at the same time getting rid of advanced tax payments. Moncayo has also said that his government would reduce fees and taxes on money going out of the country and make the Central Bank of Ecuador independent again.
The program suggests that changes be made to the controversial Communications Act and Health System and also proposes to introduce reforms in Education such as including a technical diploma so that young people can work after finishing this level of education.
The plan also includes fighting drug trafficking, but without international agreements which undermine national independence like the one which allowed the US military to use the Manta air base, as it wasn’t really necessary for the US to do what Ecuadorians know and should do.
Paco Moncayo’s candidacy has been on the increase at the polls, currently in 4th place in people’s voting intentions at 14%, which is nearly drawing with third place, Social Christian candidate Cynthia Viteri is in 2nd place with 17% and Lenin Moreno from Correa’s Alianza Pais leads with 31%.
The National Agreement for Change hopes to continue to go up in voting intentions until it stands in second place in the first round of elections and get through to the second round runoff, with a greater alliance between today’s Democratic Left and the rest of the opposition against Rafael Correa’s Alianza Pais alliance.
According to Ecuadorian analysts and citizens, the vivid political and military nature of general Paco Moncayo, his political experience, his friendly and cooperative nature, typical of a highland Ecuadorian, his charisma, his work as the Mayor of Quito, his proven honesty and his ties to the Left, center and Right make him the perfect candidate to defeat Alianza Pais´s presidential hopeful and to achieve national unity of a society which has been divided by Rafael Correa’s state-run, populist politics.
Note: For those that understand Spanish, I recommend you watch Carlos Rojas’ interview with Paco Moncayo on the TV show “Politically Correct”. Politically Correct Paco Moncayo