Former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa plans on returning to his home country Friday, Nov. 24, to defend the gains of his 10-year Citizens Revolution.
The bombshell announcement comes as Correa continues to express his severe dissatisfaction with his successor, President Lenin Moreno, whom he has repeatedly lambasted online as “disloyal and mediocre” as well as having backed the policies of Ecuador's right-wing opposition.
“This is not a fight among buddies, this is a profoundly ideological conflict,” he told Associated Press in an interview Saturday in Madrid. “President Moreno, from the day he won, started applying the government program of the right.”
While Moreno has enjoyed high approval ratings and the support of his former opponents on Ecuador's political center and right, the pro-Correa base of the ruling Alianza Pais social-democratic party has virtually revolted against Moreno, calling for his removal.
Moreno has frequently engaged in tit-for-tat verbal battles with his predecessor Correa, who is now living abroad in his wife's home country of Belgium.
“Nothing prevents me from going back to Ecuador,” Correa said, adding that he was not afraid of what he described as a campaign of threats and incitement of hatred toward him in the media.
Moreno has also launched an alleged “anti-corruption” operation that has targeted Correa allies including Vice President Jorge Glas, who is currently incarcerated and is being investigated for accepting bribes during Correa’s time in office.
“This betrayal has shown how weak the country still is and how easy they can take us back to the past,” Correa said.
The announcement came as the former head of state also blasted Moreno for having apparently taken part in a secret meeting with disgraced former Donald Trump presidential campaign chief Paul Manafort.
Manafort and an associate were recently arraigned at a U.S. federal court on a 12-count indictment that accused them of conspiring to launder money, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts and failing to register as foreign agents of Ukraine's former pro-Russian government.
Manafort went to Ecuador on May 9, according to a U.S. court filing, using a phone registered under a false name and traveling with one of three U.S. passports he possessed. Weeks later, he visited Mexico and China.
Correa demanded answers from Moreno, asking why his successor failed to disclose such a meeting with the people of Ecuador.
“If they keep it secret it’s because they are hiding something,” Correa said, adding that “political agreements should be out in the daylight.”
A spokesman for Moreno told The New York Times in September that Manafort did indeed meet with Moreno, but he offered no explanation as to what the discussions entailed.
“It’s very worrying that there should be a meeting with types like Manafort and that it should be kept hidden from the Ecuadorean people,” Correa added, noting that he only found out about the meeting days ago through the press and has only heard rumors about the substance of the talks.
Correa also underscored his support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, citing the recent gubernatorial elections as proof of the neighboring Andean country's democracy.
While conceding that Venezuela faces a grave economic crisis, Correa accused media outlets of lying by portraying Maduro as an unpopular dictator.
“This is what progressive governments have to face daily in Latin America and the world,” he said.