5 Lessons From Ecuador’s 2017 Election
1: The US Deep State just lost another election to Julian Assange.
Well not really. But kind of. WikiLeaks played an important part in the November 2016 defeat of the CIA’s preferred US candidate Hillary Clinton, but Assange’s continued political asylum was only ever a minor issue in Ecuador’s 2017 election. Nevertheless, Ecuador’s US-favoured candidate Guillermo Lasso, who vowed to turf Assange out of the London embassy if elected, lost by just a few percent. Polls showed a strong majority of Ecuadoreans favour continuing Assange’s asylum, so even though this was a minor issue on the streets of Ecuador, Lasso’s unpopular policy could potentially have cost him the win.
2: Ecuador’s opposition and corporate media are completely corrupt.
You know how schoolkids joke about winning an election by giving away free icecreams? Lasso’s team courted poor, uneducated voters by handing out Lasso-branded free bread, milk and eggs.
They also offered them jobs that did not exist.
In the first round of votes they falsely claimed fraud, with a mob of noisy demonstrators in central Quito for days, even though their candidate’s tally (under-30% of the vote) was enough to guarantee a second round. Before the second round, they went around beating up government supporters in the streets (video below).
On election day, they started declaring victory based on exit polls that were not only completely wrong, they were also published before the 5pm curfew (Ecuador law prohibits publishing exit poll data till all polling stations have closed).
“Someone is lying!” declared Ecuador’s current President Rafael Correa, noting that a 10 point variation between the two major exit polls was statistically impossible.
I was watching live on Twitter as Lasso prematurely declared victory and #LassoPresidente started trending worldwide. Before the official results were declared, Lasso’s team had already called for people to protest outside electoral offices. When official results were declared, they demanded a recount. When the recount was granted (see Update 3 below), despite confirmations of a free and fair election by international observers, they still insisted there was fraud! And of course that’s what their loyal friends in the pro-US global corporate media reported (see #5 below). These people are clearly unfit to govern a local council, let alone a proud nation of 16 million people! (see Updates below)
3: The close result vindicates Correa’s “attacks” on corporate media.
Western media — particularly supposedly “leftist” outlets like the Guardian — love to condemn Ecuador’s current President Rafael Correa whenever he attacks Ecuador’s private-owned media. Even US-funded NGO’s like Human Rights Watch and journalistic organisations like the Committee to Protect Journalists love to jump in on the action, condemning Correa’s “consorship” or “attacks on media” without fairly evaluating the basis of his criticisms. But the closeness of this election, and the manner in which it was achieved, totally vindicates Correa’s position. If Correa had spent the last few years allowing the US-backed corporate media, who relentlessly undermine his “Citizens Revolution” with smears and outright lies, to get away with saying whatever they want, regardless of the truth, the revolution would now be over.
Perhaps it’s time progressives elsewhere (particularly those complaining about #FakeNews) took a closer look at Ecuador’s new 2008 Constitution, which guarantees that media ownership is shared equally between private industry (33%), government (33%) and citizens (34%). It also guarantees the rights of the natural environment! Imagine imposing laws like that being imposed on Rupert Murdoch & Co.
4: USA condemns meddling in US elections but still does it to others.
While there’s no proof of CIA meddling in the latest election (yet) the fact remains that a range of powerful US-backed groups like the Organisation of American States (OAS) constantly attack Ecuador’s leftwing government. The huge Ecuadorean ex-pat community in the USA is regularly exposed to hostile stories on CNN’s Spanish channel, the Miami Herald, and other US corporate media outlets. This is not purely ideological Right v. Left, Capitalism v. Socialism. It’s about Team USA wanting to exert Washington’s political, military and economic force everywhere on the planet.
5: Corrupt Western media couldn’t report the election result fairly.
Prior to the second round election, corporate media in Ecuador and abroad ignored a major financial scandal involving former banker Guillermo Lasso, whose wealth (much of it now in tax havens) jumped from $1 million to $30 million when Ecuador adopted the US dollar.
After Ecuador’s National Election Council officially named Lenin Moreno the winner, leaders from around the world began calling to congratulate him. But the Western media was still reporting the result as in doubt! Reuters headlines, for example, were still dismissing Moreno’s victory as a “leftist claim”, long after international observers had confirmed the election had been free and fair. In any other election, they would have declared Moreno the winner and noted that the opposition had failed to concede defeat.
And despite Julian Assange’s involvement, none of Sweden’s major newspapers even reported the result. What does that tell you?
UPDATE 1: Now Lasso has complained that votes were stolen during a short computer outage. An audit of the voting system has been granted because the government, which says the outage did not affect counting, clearly has nothing to hide! Ecuador should be congratulated for running such free, fair and mostly peaceful elections!
UPDATE 2: It’s now being reported that Cedatos was paid half a million dollars in the final week of the campaign in exchange for falsely reporting the exit polls. The money allegedly came from a company called Livercostas, which belongs to Iván Correa, Lasso’s current campaign communications director, who was also a VP at Ecuador’s largest bank, Banco Guayaquil. Lasso has been executive president at Banco Guayaquil for more than 20 years and is a major shareholder.
UPDATE 3: Correa says the vote count website went down due to attacks from the USA, but the voting system itself was not compromised. He has also agreed to a recount on the conditions that it is done in public, and that the opposition agree to publicly apologise when they are again declared losers, and pay for repairs to all the damage their protestors have caused. While Lasso’s mobs continue blocking streets in Quito and decrying fraud, even the US State Dept has congratulated Lenin Moreno on his win. Well, kinda: “However, we do note the concerns about the electoral process and expect that they will be fully considered and resolved in a legal and transparent manner.” Yeah, the US State Dept is all about transparency, as Julian Assange knows, and it’s very bad to meddle in other nations’ elections.
UPDATE 4: Recounts have been ordered in 5 provinces where objections were lodged.
UPDATE 5: Recounts completed 11th April 2017. Lasso still the loser. Still refusing to acknowledge defeat. Pathetic.