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  • Hundreds of people protested under the rain against Lenin Moreno's economic policies. The government responded with heavy police presence.

    Hundreds of people protested under the rain against Lenin Moreno's economic policies. The government responded with heavy police presence. | Photo: @alfaristas

Published 24 May 2019

Surveys show that 67 percent of Ecuadorians regret having voted for Moreno and only 16 percent of the population still believes he is a man of his word.

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno celebrates two years in office amid protesting citizens who demand fulfillment of electoral offers, request respect for senior citizens' rights and reject austerity policies.

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After having taken distance from the leftist political and social forces that brought him to power, President Moreno approached traditional parties and embraced their public policy preferences.

One sign of the above happened in Dec 2018 when Moreno proposed to the National Assembly to elect Otto Sonnenholzner as vice president. This young economist linked to export-import business groups took office with the support of 94 of 128 legislators, most of whom were aligned with the former right-wing presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso.

In August 2018, the Ecuadorian President announced some policies which privilege budget deficit reduction over economic growth. Among those increases in fuel prices, downsizing the public sector, dismissal of thousands of public employees, private participation in public services, and budget cuts to education and health.

As a reward for this measures, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Ecuador a US$ 4.2 billion loan; however, these resources will be delivered over the next three years and if the South American country complies with its "economic program". Additionally, President Moreno acquired an additional US$6 billion debt from other multilateral banks.

"24 months of rights losses, budget cuts to health and education, fuel price increases, disruption of state institutions, persecution, breach of government planning, zero public works, INA Papers case unclear, Ecuador has 24 months without a President." In the video, Ecuadorians are asked to mention a public work carried out by President Moreno administration.

While this was happening, Ecuador's Attorney General Office opened an investigation to President Moreno for the "INA Papers" case, a scandal related to a Panama-based offshore company which would have used to buy an apartment in Alicante, Spain.

On april 11, Moreno also surprised his former supporters by withdrawing asylum to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who had been refugeed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. Human rights defenders and lawyers have questioned this decision due to the violation of national and international standards.

Nevertheless, according to interpretations made by WikiLeaks and Assange's father, the Ecuadorian goverment handed Assange in retaliation to the INA corruption allegations and in exchange for the approval of the IMF loan.

In his second year in office, Moreno strengthened relations with the U.S. government through actions such as the visit of the head of the U.S. Southern Command Craig Faller, the announcement of Ecuador-U.S. joint naval exercises and the return of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to the country.

In an attempt to maintain governance levels, President Moreno announced on May 6 the beginning of the "Ecuador 2030 National Agreement," which would be a mechanism for dialoguing with various social sectors.

"Moreno + IMF = more taxes on food, health and education. We are tired of 24 months without a President and two years of nepotism."

Nevertheless, at the beginning of his third year in office, President Moreno's credibility and approval rates are at very low levels, which are unprecedented in the last two decades.

A local polling company Opinion Profiles (OP), which interviewed citizens at the country's three main cities, found that his credibility decreased from 85 percent on July 2017 to 24 percent in April 2019.

The OP survey also showed that 67 percent of Ecuadorians regret having voted for Moreno and 16 percent of the population still believe he is a man of his word.

This widespread distrust happens at times when the main concerns of Ecuadorians are inflation, poverty, public debt and unemployment (27 percent), corruption (14 percent) and poor management of the government (9 percent), as Cedatos, a local company affiliated with WIN-Gallup International, reported.

At the 2019 Report to the Nation, President Moreno, who sees himself as an environmental friendly ruler, announced Friday that he will eliminate the "Green Tax" which had been paid by owners of vehicles over 1500 cc since 2010.

"I have decided to eliminate the so-called green tax, which has proven to be a burden too heavy for people," he said.

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