Guillermo Lasso narrowly won the 2021 election against a protégé of former President Rafael Correa. As a conservative former banker, Lasso seeks to open up Ecuador’s economy, enact judicial reforms, and confront a surge in criminal violence. He has prioritized mass COVID-19 vaccinations, even making the jab mandatory for most citizens. However, the early popularity Lasso enjoyed has diminished.
Guillermo Lasso on dissent hunt
According to a survey conducted by the company Perfiles de Opinion, the disapproval of President Guillermo Lasso’s government has reached 85 percent. The survey, conducted from February 11 to 13, found that 53.43 percent of respondents rated Lasso’s government as “bad” and 31.57 percent as “very bad. Only, 12.53 percent said the president’s administration was good and a mere 0.43 percent said it was very good.
This comes amidst reports of corruption against the Lasso administration. The Ecuadorian news outlet La Posta has exposed the Guillermo Lasso administration’s involvement with a drug trafficking network. The outlet claims a recent report by Ecuadorian National Police’s Anti-Narcotics Unit demonstrates the close relationship between the Ecuadorian government and the drug trafficking network, led by Danilo Carrera, President Lasso’s brother-in-law. The investigating team’s leader, journalist Andersson Boscan, declared that he had access to the 145-page report and would give it to the relevant authorities, courts, the National Assembly, and the media.
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These fresh disclosures add to earlier ones about the alleged presence of a corruption network in publicly traded energy sector corporations, known as the “Encuentro Case.” Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso is currently struggling politically due to his weak position in Congress. Recently, the Commission for Truth, Justice and the Fight against Corruption recommended the impeachment of Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso because of his possible involvement in a corruption network linked to his brother-in-law Danilo Carrera.
As a result, Lasso is looking for strategies to overcome the low acceptance ratings. On February 5th, he even tried to hold an eight-question referendum but it was not well-received by the public. Having exhausted all other options, Guillermo Lasso is now attempting to shift the blame for Ecuador’s crisis onto former President Lenin Moreno. Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office (FGE) filed charges against former president Lenin Moreno and 36 other people for the “Sinohydro” case on 3rd March, in what appears to be Lasso’s attempt to make Moreno the scapegoat.
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These 37 people are accused of alleged bribery and participation in an alleged corruption scheme linked to the construction of the Coca-Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project. In addition to the former President, the FGE filed charges against his wife, Rocío González; his daughter Ina Moreno; his brothers, Edwin and Guillermo; his sisters-in-law, Jaquelina V., and Martha G.; his friends, Conto Patiño and Xavier Macías; as well as Cai Runguo, former Chinese ambassador to Ecuador.
The Sinohydro case, initially known as the “Ina Papers” began its investigation in 2019. The FGE announced the beginning of the process against Moreno and the other 36 people on February 22. The case investigates the construction of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project in Ecuador, developed by the Chinese company Sinohydro. Those involved allegedly received nearly 76 million dollars in bribes between 2009 and 2018. The FGE alleges that as vice president of Ecuador (2007-2013), Moreno facilitated the concession to Sinohydro to construct the hydroelectric dam.
The bribes represent approximately 4 percent of the contracted value of the work, which was almost 2 billion dollars. The project’s execution required 2.245 billion dollars. Make no mistake, Guillermo Lasso is making one final effort to save his face and place the responsibility for Ecuador’s corruption on former president Moreno by portraying Moreno as a corrupt leader. While Lasso’s shady political maneuvers may have yielded some hedonistic rewards in the short term, the truth will eventually come out, and when it does, Lasso’s political career will be history.
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