Maybe you guys know that Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, is the love of my life. Maybe you don't. Anyway, he was elected president last year while I was in Ecuador to the great celebration of the people around me and all over the country, minus the rich ones who would have preferred Alvaro Noboa, the wealthiest man in Ecuador and George Bush's wet dream of a presidential candidate. (I suppose there were also some badly deceived ones who voted for Noboa, because he did manage about 44% of the vote, but the point is, Correa won and decisively too.) One of Correa's main platforms was that he would call for a referendum to create a Constituent Assembly to rewrite Ecuador's constitution and reorganize its political system, because the current one obviously wasn't working -- 9 presidents in 10 years, political instability, etc. This referendum passed last April with about 80% support, which leads me to my first reason why we should all love Correa:
1. Everyone else does; at least everyone who matters (the Ecuadorian people).
Not only did the referendum he called and which had been central to his campaign get 80% of the vote, when the elections were held to form the Constituent Assembly, Correa's party, Alianza PAIS, won 74 of the 130 seats. If that is not enough to indicate that everybody loves him, check out his approval ratings: depending on where you look, from 76 to 90%!
2. He speaks four languages. (Our president barely speaks one.)
Right, so how? Born and raised in coastal Ecuador, obviously he speaks Spanish; after college he did a year of volunteer work in Cotopaxi, a Sierra province right near where I was, where he learned Quechua; he got a Master's in Belgium and also learned French; finally, he got a Ph.D. here in the little ol' USA, where English is king.
3. He stood Bush up and called a speech he made retarded.
Back in September, after my illustrious president made some apparently smolderingly offensive comments about Cuba, Correa didn't go to Bush's UN dinner, explaining that he bailed in protest of what Bush had said in his speech, that "[Bush] has no right to give such a base, retarded speech now in the 21st century." Thank you!
4. He's rather dashing.
(Photo stolen from borev.net, as well as, like, everything.)
5. He proposed that Ecuador build a military base in Miami.
Our desperately unfortunate military has been rather outraged that Ecuador is not going to let them renew their lease on an air base at Manta, on the coast, come 2009 when it expires. I mean, ridiculous -- who wouldn't want the US military in their country?! So Correa, in the spirit of compromise, announced in Italy in October, "We'll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami -- an Ecuadorian base." Sounds fair enough to me. What do the good people of Miami say? Exactly what I would: "Absolutely YES!!!!"
6. He's way ahead of the Bali Conference.
When last April, Correa suggested that the international community help Ecuador preserve the air we all share by compensating this small, poor, relatively oil-rich country to leave the oil in the ground, we didn't hear much of it up here in Estados Unidos. (Norway, however, expressed interest, another example of how you Norwegians are more enlightened then us boorish Americans.) These days, it would seem that at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, an international carbon-trading plan called REDD is quite the hot topic. REDD is a plan, according to the New York times, that "would involve payments by wealthy countries to developing countries for every hectare of forest they do not cut down." Okay, so it's about forests, not oil, but does it sound at all familiar? Richer countries helping poorer countries save the planet by compensating them for not harvesting their natural non-resources? Too bad Correa's one of those dreadful Anti-American leftists, so he can't be in the New York Times...