If you care about the Amazon Rainforest, beware Ecuador’s elections.

Andres Arauz wants to follow in Correa’s footsteps. That means mining in protected areas.

Photo by Andrés Medina on Unsplash

What will happen in the February 7th election?

Andrés Arauz, the current front runner for Ecuador’s elections, wants to follow in Rafael Correa’s footsteps. He is campaigning on a return to populist “Correismo” that was eschewed for three years by Moreno. Correa was even going to run as Arauz’ Vice President until he got caught up in so many corruption and embezzlement cases that it seemed politically damaging. Instead, Correa went on to help officiate Venezuela’s election of Nicolas Maduro for an umpteenth term.

How can Arauz recreate Correa’s popularity? Double down on mining in biodiversity hotspots.

Let’s go back to the start of Correa’s first term:

  • He was a political outsider bent on ‘screwing the man’ for the sake of the people. Check.
  • He had a massive pad of cash flowing in from oil and mineral exports, sometimes with 10x more income coming in than ever before. Nope.

1. Give the people money.

It sounds simple, but this is populism at its core. As a final reminder, Ecuador is currently in an intense economic contraction of approximately -11% GDP growth due to the rising debts and the pandemic. The only worse economy in Latin America right now is Argentina. Moreno was able to secure a small loan of $3.5B from the IDB to pay off Asian debts, but it pales in comparison to what the country owes.

2. Get into power and undermine institutions.

Correa’s rhetoric is still popular enough to potentially land Arauz in office. However, rhetoric alone will not keep him there, especially when the harsh economic reality hits (unless he can dig some funds out of the forest). Furthermore, even if he does follow the Correa mineral boom route, it’s a temporary fix. These resources are finite and Ecuador could easily denude itself and lose the biodiversity that bolsters significant (but badly hurt) tourism.

CEO @ Friends of Wallacea // ex-ghost writer, ex-vc // harnessing the power of tech for conservation, and writing about it.

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