Correa faces a challenge from "El Hermano Mayor"
Bartels-Kodwo --- Council on
President Rafael Correa
of Ecuador is a very busy man these days. He recently emerged as
victor in a libel suit that he brought against two journalists from
the Ecuadorian paper El Universo at the National Court of Justice in
Quito. He sued the journalists for $5 million apiece, and was awarded
$1 million from each of the defendants, although he later pardoned
both editors. His litigious victory is among the few positive
developments for Correa of late, as he faces a number of
newly-emerging challenges as Ecuador's president. In one such
instance, he is being forced to defend his decision to award mining
contracts in Ecuador's jungle without first conferring with the
directly-affected communities that live on the land. His hasty
decision has incited massive protests among Amazonian indigenous
communities. To make matters worse, President Correa is also facing a
challenge for his job from none other than his very own brother.
In an interview published
on March 13, 2012 in Uruguayan newspaper El Pais, Fabricio Correa,
President Rafael Correa's older brother, explained his motivations
for running for trying to unseat his own kin. Speaking from
Montevideo, Fabricio Correa lamented the rampant corruption and
increasing insecurity due to the activities of drug cartels, while
also accusing his brother of clamping down too hard on press
freedoms. "We are constantly living in fear [in Ecuador],"
controversial in his own right, has been in the national spotlight
since his relationship with the younger Correa went sour in 2009
following the termination of government contracts awarded to his
companies. More recently, Fabricio came to the attention of the
Ecuadorian national media after the president sued the two El
Universo journalists. Rafael Correa levied legal action against the
two after they in part based new revelations on accounts given by
Fabricio. Certain investigative chapters, later revealed in their
book El Gran Hermano, unearthed corrupt deals made by Fabricio's
companies. The piece reiterated Fabricio's claims that his brother,
the president, was well-aware of the corrupt bidding process used in
awarding government contracts.
This court case, which
was tried before the Ecuadorian National Court of Justice (CNJ) in
Quito, led to the brothers accusing and counter-accusing each other
of corruption. This cat-and-mouse game of claim and counterclaim
culminated in Fabricio Correa submitting the necessary 158,000
signatures and requisite paperwork to make official his candidacy for
the presidential election, which is set to take place in 2013.
Unlike the Miliband
brothers in the United Kingdom, who are both running for the
leadership of the Labour Party in the UK with each other's blessings,
the relationship between these two brothers is quite fierce. They are
constantly engaged in a highly-publicized war of words with each
other; Rafael called his big brother a greedy "big shot,"
while Fabricio retorted by accusing his brother of "lacking
Until now, the political
opposition in Ecuador has been largely disorganized. A number of
discussions aiming to unify the country's biggest opposition factions
have proven to be futile, as the deep-seeded ideological divisions
continue to thwart attempts at temporary alliances and mergers to run
against President Correa. This has created a unique opportunity for
Fabricio Correa and his new EQUIPO Party to mount what looks like the
only viable challenge to the president, who has governed the country
For now, Fabricio Correa
has submitted the requisite documents to run for the country's
highest office, but it remains to be seen whether the National
Electoral Council can act independent of the president's influence
and confirm the elder Correa's candidacy for the presidency.
Regardless of how things turn out, one thing is clear: the next
meeting of the two brothers may not be the most pleasant.