Ecuador Internacional

The Pope's Visit Won't Cure Ecuador

Bloomberg View - Mac Margolis 07/07/2015

Foto: Bloomberg View

Foto: Bloomberg View

No one has ever accused Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa of modesty. In his welcome to Pope Francis, who arrived in Quito on Sunday to begin a weeklong, three-country visit of the region, the Andean strongman didn't disappoint.

Correa acknowledged that "the pope is Argentine" and "God is probably Brazilian," but added, playfully, that "Paradise surely is Ecuadorean." His political opponents might be forgiven for failing to see the humor.

For the last month, tens of thousands of Ecuadoreans have marched against Correa's government. Such discord is likely what Francis had in mind when, in a nuanced message, he called on his flock to embrace the spirit of "reconciliation" and enjoined Ecuadoreans to "value differences, fomenting dialogue and the full participation" of those who are excluded.

Problem is, Correa doesn't do dialogue. The 52-year-old Ecuadorean caudillo, who studied economics in the U.S., but learned his authoritarian style from the late Hugo Chavez, once again stooped to the occasion, answering the crowds with police, pepper spray and Bolivarian bombast.

In a national broadcast, he called the overwhelmingly peaceable demonstrators would-be coup makers and accused his adversaries of trying to embarrass him before the Holy Father.

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