Guillermo Lasso Ecuador President
Guillermo Lasso Ecuador President (Radio Havana Cuba)

Ex-banker Lasso wins Ecuador’s presidency

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Ecuadorean ex-banker Guillermo Lasso, 65, won the nation’s presidency, taking 52.52% of the vote in the runoff. Electoral authorities confirmed that Union for Hope (UNES) candidate Andres Arauz had won 47.48% of the vote. A few minutes earlier, this leftist politician publicly congratulated the president-elect.

“It’s a day in which all Ecuadoreans have decided their future,” Lasso said. “They have used their vote to express the need for change and the desire for better days.”

Last year, the oil-exporting nation’s economy economy contracted by 7.8%, according to Ecuador’s central bank, its worst performance since at least the 1970s.  Some half a million people remained unemployed as of January 2021, data from the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC) showed.

Lasso, a third-time presidential candidate, finished second in the previous two presidential contests. In 2013 he lost to then-President Rafael Correa and in 2017 he lost to Lenin Moreno.

The career banker who favors free-market policies and Ecuador’s rapprochement with international organizations, said he’ll attract foreign investors and create jobs via policies that help the private sector. During the campaign, he proposed raising the minimum wage to $500, finding ways to include more youth and women in the labor market, and eliminating tariffs for agricultural equipment.

Ecuador’s recently restructured dollar bonds have rallied in recent weeks, as investors bet that Lasso’s chances of victory were improving.

Lasso will take over from Lenin Moreno on May 24 and faces a tough job during his four-year term. Accompanied by his wife, María de Lourdes Alcívar, Lasso said that from that date on he will dedicate himself  “to the construction of a national project that continues to listen to everyone, because this project will be yours.”

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou tweeted that he had spoken with Lasso “to congratulate him on his success and to get to work together on the issues that our countries have in common.”

With reporting by Telesur, Reuters, AP