Berkeley, Friday April 17, 2020 11:20 PM
Rafael Correa was a great president in Ecuador from 2007 to 2017. I lived in Ecuador until September 2012, and then again from September 2014 to July 2016. Thus, I witnessed the stability that he provided to the country in the first term. Before him protests were frequent. I recall as an undergraduate in 2005 that we had to leave the classrooms at Universidad de Cuenca, because a tear bomb exploited in a nearby parking. That happened more than once. Often people get use to protest more as an act of vandalism than a need. I acknowledge that there might have been need for protests but it became too frequent, so some sort of order and example of work was needed. Correa provided stability to a nation, which needed to be healed. Ecuador lived chaotic times perhaps since 1996, but particularly between 1998 and 2000. I recall around 1998, when I was in elementary school that the country shut down for two weeks in protests. With my neighbors at that time, as there was a large group of kids, perhaps 14 who lived nearby my parents home, with about the same age, perhaps five years of difference, I was among of the youngest. We biked all the city at that time to check the protests.
I think in 1999, several banks bankrupted, and the government froze or closed the banks for two weeks. I assume to avoid more damage of that all the banks downfall by people withdrawing money. Well, there were actually no money. So people were not the protected ones, but the banks. So people lost their savings, but many bankers were saved.
So after many years of suffering Ecuador, really needed a President who cared for the people, more than the economic growth.
What else Ecuador could ask than Correa? Around his college years he went for a year of service to live and serve in an indigenous community, I think in Chimborazo or nearby. [Sorry I am not checking the exact facts. I am just providing testimony of what I know]. Perhaps, it was after he graduated from Economy in Guayaquil. He also not learned at first hand the needs of the people, but he learned from them. He learned Quechua there. He learned plenty of teachings of a wonderful server: Monsignor Leonidas Proaño.
Then he went abroad to study a Master in Belgium at Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Nueve. And then he studied another Master and Doctoral Degree in the United States in University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. So he speaks French and English as well.
The degrees are not that important, though gave him good preparation as thinker as speaker, as his vocation for service. There was a change for good in the country over his time. I do not agree with him in some aspects that I might understand such as free education paid by a government, and taxes in the importation of some products. On the other hand, I do agree of how he institutionalized things. I liked the order that he put. He was definitely a good manager, a good leader, and so a good president. He increased to access to health system to everyone, as it was free, and he improved it. However, I do not agree with free things paid by the government. First, because then it becomes unclear how are they pay, and so they become unsustainable. Second, because health care, while extremely important, if it is free people might go to get attended even if they do not need it. Then, it becomes difficult to attend to the ones that really needed, because the system becomes more demanding and easier to collapse. Given the example from other countries, I also do not like free health care system, because them it might become an instrument to artificial birth control, or more explicitly a source of condoms and contraceptive pills. Though that did not happened in Ecuador, I think. Such artificial self control measurements are an insult to human nature.
One thing I explicitly did not agree with Correa was to make higher education free. I have the same argument of who pays for it, and more fundamental them my argument against free education, paid by the government, is its danger of beheading the freedom of thought and the autonomous soul of university. I do have to recognize that in the first years it has an advantage as the student body gets more diverse and multi cultural. The problem of such a free education system paid by the government are the long terms effects I just described above, in addition to the decrease of human efforts and standards, that if not monitored with critical mind can lead metric fulfillment systems rather than actual education of life and talents.
Correa had something remarkable that gave him trust and so make things happened. I think he was honest, he sometimes recognized mistakes, and most important he was passioned about what he was doing. It was clear that he wanted by all means the best for Ecuador, rather than for him. He defended life. I do not think he was a coward. And avoided any kind of comfort zones. Of course by taking risks, one can make more mistakes, and here is one that was not good. I wish the terms of the loans with China were more clear for all, rather to create a monopoly with Chinese companies building infrastructure in Ecuador. I am not that clear about the taxes in importations. I do not know that much about that, but generally I disagree with such tariff policies.
Thus, despite I do not fully agree with some of his political sides and views, I think he provided a very good service to the country. I would even say that he fought against corruption, whatever that means. I say that because sometimes seems that the world is ruled by a set of rules in a system. Yes, no one can bypass or break laws, and I am not sure what was the trial he was convicted too. People might have needed to search very closely and for years after his government and nearby elections to find something wrong. People is not exempt to mistakes. Yes, I know it can sound irrational to make such a claim, even without knowing what exactly was he accused. But I am making my claim based on Correa’s works, over the time I was there. I am also saying that he does not look the kind of person, who will go to office for his personal interests.
The outcome of the trial is a disgrace. It is ill intentioned. President Correa was sentenced to eight years of jail and prohibited to run for any governmental office for 25 years, because if he runs he wins.