Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nothing comes easy in post-Bush era foreign policy

News that socialist Rafael Correa easily won re-election as president of Ecuador on Sunday should give pause to the inner circle around U.S. President Barack Obama, since it means they will have to work harder to contain damage from the Bush administration. No doubt, the White House had hoped that Correa, a pal of anti-U.S. rhetoric spouting Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, would at least suffer a setback in this election that would slow him down. Instead, Correa got a majority of the vote in the eight-candidate field, avoiding a runoff for the first time since democracy was restored in Ecuador in 1979, according to the Reuters international news service. The leftist Correa, popular in Ecuador for socialist policies that took hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign countries drilling for offshore oil or managing banana plantations and putting the money into pensions, schools and health care, money to the poor, successfully pushed a constitutional amendment enabling him to run for a third term in 2013. "This revolution is on the march, and nobody and nothing can stop us," the 46-year-old president said in Guayaquil, his hometown. "The people ... have given us the most splendorous victory of probably the last 50 years." Correa's major rivals included former president Lucio Gutierrez and billionaire Alvaro Noboa. Correa caused a stir in the West last year by defaulting on billions of dollars in debt, closing a U.S. airbase used for anti-drug flights and expelling two U.S. diplomats he accused of spying.

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