Candidates Daniel Noboa and Luisa Gonzalez, during Sunday's debate. HANDOUT (via REUTERS)
The last debate before Ecuador's presidential elections, on October 15, proved inconsequential. With hardly any discussion, proposals impossible to fulfill in a year and a half of mandate were put on the table, which is the time he will have to govern whoever wins the elections in two weeks. Daniel Noboa and Luisa González responded in two hours on four thematic axes: economy, security, social and political. It was a slow debate without clear ideas between the political heirs of Rafael Correa and Álvaro Noboa – father of the candidate – who 17 years ago faced each other in a similar scenario that defined the 2006 elections in favor of Correa.
This Sunday it is difficult to imagine that the debate will decant the contest. The rigid format proposed by the Debate Committee of the Electoral Council did not allow discussion, nor were the candidates encouraged to ask uncomfortable questions. Time passed between an enumeration of problems and possible solutions without depth or the passion necessary to capture that important group of undecided that exceeds 37%, according to the pollster Cedatos. The intention of the vote is led by the candidate of the ADN alliance, Noboa, with 44% against the candidate of the Citizen Revolution, with 32%, according to the Opinion Profiles survey.
The space served González to get rid of his leader and mentor Rafael Correa for the first time. "I want to ratify that the candidate for the presidency of the Republic is me, Luisa González, not Rafael Correa," he said about who had promised to appoint his main adviser if he wins the presidency. Noboa, also in his search for his own personality, also did not want to allude to his father, who was a five-time candidate for Carondelet and is a well-known politician throughout the country in the face of the unknowns generated by his son, who reached the second round by surprise on August 20.
The first high point was caused by Noboa when he asked his opponent how long he intended to de-dollarize Ecuador, "following the recommendations of the Puebla Group, and its leader, Rafael Correa?" This is one of the most sensitive issues in economics for Ecuadorians. Noboa was trying to get a blow because of the statements made by the vice presidential candidate for the Citizen Revolution, Andrés Arauz, who has talked about incorporating an "ecuadolarization", an electronic currency for payments and transactions. Gonzalez smiled and replied: "In the Puebla Group there was talk of a world trade payment system, I am going to inject resources into the economy, strengthen the national industry to strengthen dollarization."
When it came time to talk about security, in a country with one of the highest crime rates in Latin America and the greatest concern of citizens, the candidates announced that they have already baptized their projects. The so-called Phoenix Plan is that of Noboa, who insisted on his proposal to create barge prisons to isolate detainees, and Plan Resurge is that of Gonzalez, who focuses his proposal on militarizing prisons.
"The first thing is for a government that allowed organized crime to infiltrate the country to go," said González, who saw an opportunity to attack the businessman. "Most of the violence comes from organized crime, the mafias even put ministers who facilitate the export of drugs, answer the country if the former Minister of Agriculture, Bernardo Manzano, was manager of the Noboa group."
Manzano was mentioned in some audios about a case of influence peddling in the current government. Noboa responded: "Yes, he was for a long time manager of the Noboa Corporation, likewise there were ministers like Pepe Serrano – who held several positions in the government of Rafael Correa – who was involved with drug trafficking."
In a campaign marked by violence, the candidates hardly hold street rallies and mass rallies, demanding to surround themselves with strong security measures. On this last occasion to speak directly to Ecuadorians, the candidates said goodbye with invitations to continue debating on TikTok.
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