Ecuador, Iran, and Latin America’s ‘Pink Tide’

Socialism, communism, and Islamic extremism, have all come together to attack freedom and democracy and destroy Latin America.

Michaela Frai at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies:

Ecuador, Iran, and Latin America’s Pink Tide

Ecuador_Flag-260x190Ecuador will elect a new leader on April 2 to replace its left-wing, populist president Rafael Correa. Washington should pay close attention. Correa’s vice-president Lenin Moreno is a close second in the polls, but should he win, he will likely continue Correa’s economic populism and anti-Americanism, including, crucially, pursuing a strong relationship with Iran.

Correa came to power at the onset of Latin America’s “pink tide” – the rise of charismatic, left-wing leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. Since then, their growing authoritarianism and failed economic policies have eroded their support, opening the way to more moderate, pro-Western leaders like Mauricio Macri in Argentina and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Peru.

A Moreno victory, however, could mark the return of the pink tide. Correa has handpicked Moreno to run for the presidency, much as Chavez had tapped Nicolas Maduro to succeed him upon his death. Although Correa has not yet run his country aground as did Venezuela’s leaders, under his stewardship, Ecuador has become a “major drug transit country” with significant “vulnerability for money laundering,” according to the State Department.

Similarly, Ecuador, an OPEC member, has seen its GDP contract amid lower oil prices, albeit not as dramatically as in Venezuela. Additionally, Quito’s membership in the Venezuelan-led regional trade bloc ALBA pushes it further from the U.S. and towards the same Bolivarian socialism that has led to the near demise of Venezuela.

These parallels should not be lost on U.S. policymakers. Quito has long claimed to be an ideological ally of Caracas, and has been its staunch diplomatic partner regionally and internationally. Thus, as Venezuela continues to crumble under international economic sanctions, Iran might shift its center of gravity in Latin America to Ecuador.

In 2010 and 2011, Correa and Moreno travelled to Tehran to sign bilateral agreements, including building a power plant in Ecuador, providing industrial and technical knowledge, and banking partnerships. As vice president, Moreno also oversaw a $30-million deal to conduct joint mining projects as a basis for future extractive activities.

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