The new president of Ecuador had a strong start in the first 100 days

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Ecuador Update

When Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso vowed to ensure that 9 million people (half of the country’s population) were vaccinated within the first 100 days of his appointment, it sounded like a very soon Populist campaign promises that will be broken.

On the day he took office on May 24, Ecuador received only 2 million doses of the vaccine and vaccinated 3% of its residents, which is one of the countries with the lowest coverage rate in the region.

But three months later, Lasso kept his promise. The country has now received nearly 20 million doses of vaccine and has fully vaccinated more than 9 million people (52% of the population). according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country has gone from one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rates in Latin America to the third highest, after Chile and Uruguay, and ahead of all the most populous countries in the region.

Sebastián Hurtado, head of Prófitas, a local political risk consulting firm, said: “This is a remarkable achievement, and it depends on the combined effect of many factors.”

“First: vaccine diplomacy. Regardless of ideology, Lasso has reached out to everyone from China, Russia and Western pharmaceutical companies. Second: he appointed a very competent health minister. Third: he participated in the private sector Logistics work to provide doctors with vaccination points and equipment.”

The vaccination plan is not the only feather on the Lasso hat. On Wednesday, his government said it had reached a revised employee-level loan program with the International Monetary Fund. Assuming the plan is approved by the fund’s board of directors, Ecuador will receive US$1.5 billion in loans this year and another US$1 billion in 2022 to stabilize its dangerous financial situation*.

Under the supervision of Russo, Ecuador rejoined the World Bank’s International Investment Dispute Settlement Center (ICSID) after a 12-year absence, a move that should encourage foreign investment.

In August, the president traveled to Mexico to discuss a free trade agreement, which is a necessary condition for Ecuador to join the Pacific Union trade group, which currently includes its two direct neighbors Colombia and Peru, as well as Chile and Mexico.

Analysts say lasso Demonstrating a willingness to put aside ideology and sit down with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, this leader has little in common with him. “There is no dogma in his rule. He has shown that he is willing to listen and build consensus,” said Gabriela Larreátegui, a former Ecuadorian congresswoman.

This is a good start for someone who doesn’t want to win election In April. After failing the previous two presidential campaigns, he squeezed into the second round with a surprising advantage this year. Narrowest margin Before setting off a big upset in the deciding game.

He was rewarded in opinion polls, with approval ratings ranging from 64% to 74%.However, some people believe that his popularity has peaked from a high in July, which may herald more Hard days are coming.

So far, his achievements have not been approved by Parliament, but in the next few months, the government hopes to pass Congress to promote fiscal and labor reform bills. This is where the lasso can be untied.

Ecuador’s 137-seat Congress has five major parties, the smallest of which is the Russo Create Opportunity (CREO) Party, which has only 12 seats. He can count on about a dozen independents, but he is still far from reaching a majority in the House dominated by the left-wing and indigenous party Pachakutik. The president has tried to form alliances with other parties, but with little success.

“Lasso’s honeymoon period is over,” said Johanna Andrango, a political scientist in Quito. “His first victory was 9 million vaccinations in 100 days, but people are now asking him what he will come up with next to solve economic and criminal problems. There is no doubt that his biggest obstacle is Congress.”

The President stated that his reforms are critical to restarting an economy that shrank by nearly 8% last year. The debt has jumped to about 65% of GDP, and the fiscal deficit has widened. As the only formally dollarized economy in South America, Ecuador has limited what it can do to adjust its accounts.

If Congress refuses to approve Lasso’s reforms, he said he will try to bypass the legislature and let them vote in a referendum.

Ecuador has a record of taking this route. Rasso’s two predecessors, Rafael Correa and Lenín Moreno, held referendums in their first few years in power, using their early popularity to push for reforms.

Russo told a local TV station this week: “If the National Assembly (Congress) does not approve these laws, we will directly consult with the people and let them decide their own future.”

*This story has been revised to correct the size of loans in 2022

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