Ecuador’s Correa seeks perpetual re-election

ecuador mediaEcuador’s President Rafael Correa, whom opponents characterize as a semi-authoritarian leader, is deliberating a proposal by the ruling Alianza Pais Party to permit indefinite re-election for every office-holder, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Buoyed by high oil prices, Mr. Correa has funneled money into education and highways, giving him high approval ratings, while drawing sharp criticism from rights groups and press freedom advocates for trying to muzzle critics…..

In speeches, Mr. Correa has rejected accusations that he is trampling on Ecuador’s democracy, arguing instead that the people shouldn’t be deprived of their democratic will.

“With the judge, the courts and all the players on their side, the leaders of so-called 21st Century Socialism are imposing authoritarian regimes, backed by the votes of their own citizens, and are undermining democracy,” said Antonio Rodríguez Vicens, a constitutional lawyer in Quito.

“Unlike Chávez, he knows the importance of infrastructure, roads, and schools, and Ecuador has seen a vast improvement in these areas,” Inter-American Dialogue’s Michael Shifter told the Journal:

More controversial have been his relations with the press and civil society groups. Last year, his supporters passed a communications law that mandates criminal charges if media outlets don’t report news in ways regulators deem fair and balanced. The government last year also announced new restrictions on civil society groups that activists say threaten their work. Pachamama, an environmental organization that is allied with indigenous communities, was closed after being accused of stirring protests.