Ecuadorean President Raphael Correa took office January 15 promising his people progressive, revolutionary social and economic change unlike anything this country of mostly impoverished people ever had before under its right wing only governments beholden solely to capital interests. Correa promised a "citizens' revolution" beginning by drafting a new Constitution in a Constituent Assembly for which a national referendum was held April 15 allowing Ecuadoreans the right to decide on it, not politicians.
Yesterday the people spoke loudly and clearly in favor of proceeding. The referendum was passed overwhelmingly by 78.1% in favor against a mere 11.5% opposed (with remaining ballots left blank or were void) according to a Cedatos-Gallup exit poll conducted among 40,000 voters with a margin of error around 2% that will be very close to the final official vote count due out in a week according to Ecuador's Supreme Electoral Council (TSE).
The referendum was monitored by representatives from the Organization of American States (OAS) who judged it fair and open, but that judgment won't likely silence Correa's critics crying foul, calling the whole process unconstitutional, and saying adopting the "Venezuelan model" will scare off foreign investors - all false and misleading as eight years under Hugo Chavez proves. Venezuela is thriving economically under his progressive leadership, and Correa now hopes his agenda for progressive social and economic change will achieve the same results for Ecuador and its people. He now has a chance to do it.
Correa is following the same pattern Hugo Chavez chose in 1999 following his first election as Venezuela's president in December, 1998. Chavez held a national referendum that passed overwhelmingly followed three months later by elections to the National Constituent Assembly. It then drafted the country's new Constitucion de la Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela giving all Venezuelans a cornucopia of progressive social policies written into law. It appears Ecuador will go the same route with a new Constitution to be drafted later this year that again will be put to a popular referendum to let the people decide on it, not the politicians.
Sunday, President Correa voiced what most Ecuadoreans feel saying "It's a day of national celebration, a victory for the people, for democracy" as he voted at a polling station in northern Quito, the capital. Correa promised progressive change for his people desperate for it, and as the country's eighth president (three of them publicly toppled) in the last turbulent decade, he's committed to deliver it saying earlier he'd resign from office if the April 15 referendum failed to pass. He had little reason to worry.
Hugo Chavez congratulated Correa and his people in his weekly Sunday radio and television program "Alo (Hello) Presidente" saying "Correa will go forward with the support of the great majority. We wish the best for the Ecuadorean people and President Correa, who has heeded with courage and valor the call of 21st century socialism." The sentiment in Washington is likely to be quite different with public comments ahead barely concealing official contempt for any regional efforts toward real progressive democratic change. But what else would we expect from an administration run by a criminal element with no respect for the law or democratic will of people anywhere. Stay tuned for more developments as they unfold.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on The Micro Effect.com each Saturday at noon US central time.