Ecuador’s president has been branded a “dark Shakespearean traitor” for the dramatic volte-face he has undertaken since being elected on the shoulders of former socialist leader Rafael Correa.
President Lenín Moreno is being accused by a prominent critic of “treason” for embarking on a premeditated strategy to destroy the legacy of Correa’s “citizens’ revolution” based on the principles of 21st century socialism pioneered in the region.
In a savage attack on Moreno’s efforts to prevent the popular leftwing leader from making a comeback, Ecuador’s former foreign minister Guillaume Long has spoken out about the need to counter the narrative being used to resuscitate neoliberalism.
“There has been a judicial coup in Ecuador,” Long said. “Lenín Moreno is really and truly a sort of dark Shakespearean traitor. He was elected on Correa’s shoulders repeating the electoral slogan ‘I will continue the work of the best Ecuadorean president in history’.
“Since then it has taken him a year to really completely consummate his treason; he did it little by little, first by sullying the legacy, by magnifying the corruption scandals, then he organised a referendum to make sure Correa couldn’t run again, and a judicial coup – changing all the judges, getting rid of the constitutional court, and so on.”
The front line in the battle for a legacy
Speaking at the Latin America 2018 Adelante! conference at the Trades Union Congress in London, Long described how his country is now in the front line of a momentous struggle over the legacy of the “pink tide” progressive governments that came to power after 1999.
A vice president under Correa, Moreno was an insider who since coming to power in May 2017 has turned on the very voters who thought they were electing a continuity candidate within the Alianza PAIS party.
He has also taken steps to remove the protection afforded to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose refuge within the Ecuadorean Embassy in London is now being progressively eroded at the behest of the United States so that they can extradite him.
As if to confirm Moreno’s U-turn, in June US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the country to discuss expanded US security ties and a possible bilateral trade agreement that will scrap the new autonomy Ecuador gained under Correa.
At the London event, Long called on the Left to counter the narrative in the “corporate media” that is being deployed as part of a concerted strategy to discredit former leftwing leaders across Latin America.
He said that while leftwing parties may have faced electoral setbacks in countries like Brazil and Argentina, they had for the first time in Latin American history governed and reshaped politics over decade and a half – lifting 100 million people out of poverty, dramatically reducing inequality, building a new solidarity to challenge imperialism, and “debunking the myths of neoliberalism”.
“In no way can that be regarded as a political failure – it is a political success,” he said. “It was a decade and a half where we asserted our sovereignty. We united to oppose the Monroeism and national security doctrine of Washington and its deep state.
“Going against neoliberalism, we demonstrated that the Left does not just have good intentions. It can rule.”
Lawfare and the judicialisation of politics
Long denounced the “judicialisation” of politics whereby powerful rightwing forces across the continent are now using the courts to prevent popular leftwing leaders such as Lula da Silva in Brazil from returning to power.
Ecuador is now in the front line of this assault, with a battery of spurious legal charges being fired against Correa in an effort to discredit him so that he can never return to politics – a modus operandi often called “lawfare” that has become the right’s weapon of choice in its efforts to engineer the return of a new generation of neoliberal leaders.
Long said he was convinced that the strategy being pursued by Moreno had been developed by the current president over a lengthy period behind Correa’s back.
He attacked the British “corporate press” for its complicity in the global effort to trash the legacy of progressive leaders in Latin America.
“It’s quite remarkable because there is often a framing in the British press that Correa was a sort of flamboyant leader, a populist, there was even an authoritarian streak. Yet the citizens’ revolution was extremely democratic: it won 14 elections and in fact in the decade prior to Correa’s 10 years we had seven presidents in 10 years and Ecuador was known for absolute political instability.”
While there were signs that the narrative in favour of Correa’s legacy is being regained by the Left at home, Long said, “what we now need is the narrative to be won abroad – and of course the corporate media speaks to the corporate media.
“So the Ecuadorean corporate media that has been co-responsible for this judicial coup is feeding information on Ecuador to the corporate media abroad and we are seeing that all the things this conference is discussing are not transpiring in the British press.”
But the former foreign minister ultimately expressed a positive message, insisting that “fortunately, collective memory is notoriously unruly”.
He told the conference: “Despite all the attacks and despite all these court cases that lead nowhere – the basic aim is to produce headlines – Correa’s legacy is growing and the return of the Left is inevitable.”
Moreno’s popularity has slumped domestically, confirming his role as what Long described as “a kind of suicide bomber – he blew himself up because everybody hates him now and he did a lot of damage around him, but politically he doesn’t exist any more and we are seeing the narrative in Ecuador being recuperated in our favour.
“People are realising that this has been a massive con job and that we have been betrayed.”