Banana Farmer Wins Ecuador Presidency, Now Will He Slip Up?

Daniel Noboa speaks to the press, next to his wife Ángela Lavinia Valbonesi, after hearing about yesterday's victory in the coastal city of Santa Elena, Ecuador.
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Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old businessman and heir to a banana fortune, will be the next president of Ecuador. But to most people the son of the richest man in the country remains somewhatg of a mystery.

Noboa, a semi-unknown as far as politics goes, has no experience and practically all the economic decisions he will face affect in one way or another his family fortune , built for three generations with the export of bananas.

With more than 90% of the ballots counted and 52.3% of the support, he easily won  by a clear margin over his opponent,  a follower of former President Rafael Correa.

Noboa is not associated with any political party nor does he define himself ideologically, but his liberal discourse , his intention to reduce taxes and encourage foreign investment places him in the center-right. In the campaign he has shown himself to be a family man – he has a stable marriage, two children and a third on the way – who runs eight kilometers a day and lifts weights.

In recent days, with gloves and in front of a punching bag, he bragged about his friendship with a UFC fighter. He is pure politics in the age of TikTok. In the background, the illusion that he is a successful person who has his own helicopter.

Noboa’s victory has been a slap in the face to Correismo, the political movement around Rafael Correa. The former president chose Luisa González, an unknown politician without much charisma , to govern through an intermediary.

The promise of returning to the past, when the country grew with oil money and lifted millions of people out of poverty, has not been enough. González never connected with the electorate nor was he able to distance himself from her mentor Correa, about whom a significant chunk of the electorate says “never again”.

The result has been, in some ways, a surprise. In February, in the provincial and municipal elections, the Citizen Revolution won in Quito, Guayaquil and 48 other cities, and installed prefects in nine of the 24 provinces. Then it was interpreted as a great success and seemed to put Correism on the path to the presidency. It hasn’t been like that.

Serene, without any noticeable euphoria, Noboa offered his first words after learning the results: “Tomorrow we will begin to work for this new Ecuador to rebuild a country that has been seriously hit by corruption, violence, and hatred.”

The candidate followed the scrutiny from his beach house, three hours from Guayaquil, with his family and his campaign team. A quarter of an hour earlier, González acknowledged defeat at the headquarters of her party, in Quito, and extended a hand to the winner: “Enough of hatred, of polarization. Ecuador needs to heal. “They count on us for a common agreement, of homeland.”

Noboa, the youngest president in Ecuador’s history, will take office in December.

He will only govern for 16 months, the remainder of Guillermo Lasso’s presidential term, who dissolved the Assembly in May and called elections to avoid a political trial for corruption.

Noboa steps into the hot seat in a country that is economically stagnant and in which prison riots, the appearance of dismembered corpses, and murders at the hands of hitmen have become common.

In September, 3,600 homicides had already been committed in the country, double that of last year. Drug cartels have infiltrated a nation that until a few years ago was an island untouched by the problems of drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare present in the region.

The dollarization of its economy and its extensive coastline on the Pacific have made it an attractive territory for organized crime.

Daniel fulfills a family dream. His father, a man with a fortune of $910 million, according to Forbes , ran for president up to five times. He was a populist politician who presented himself as the Messiah of the poor, giving away computers, bags of food and handing out cash at his rallies.

Correismo was his political enemy.

His son, however, has not entered into direct disputes, wanting to project the image of someone far from politics. He has put a screen between him and his rivals, and thus has cemented his victory.

He has not been affected by the fact that the banana exporter Noboa had pending tax payments of almost 90 million dollars, nor by the fact that it was revealed in the last few hours that he himself benefited from businesses in tax havens. 

The younger Noboa  got in front in the polling and there was no one else to stop him.

Source: El Pais.
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