Self-proclaimed businessman Guillermo Lasso was sworn in as the new President of Ecuador on Monday, addressing a congressional hearing about the serious economic and social problems facing his government.
The 65-year-old, who surprised everyone winning last month’s elections, says Ecuador’s former leaders have failed the country in accepting the dictatorship and “the disgusting religion of leader”- a powerful figure who often dominated Latin American politics.
“Today we welcome a country with a history of unemployment, a country that has been known for failing to tackle the scourge of violence,” he told dignitaries who visited, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and King Felipe of Spain. “Some countries that have experienced this have done so systematically, effectively, and above all without corruption.”
Weak appearance and walking with the help of a cane, the consequences of a 2013 walking accident followed by surgery, Lasso’s face serious difficulties as the leader of Ecuador.
Lasso, who made a fortune on banking before becoming a politician and won a third term, described Ecuador as “a country where criminals fill their pockets where innocent people – newborn Ecuadorians – can’t even fill their stomachs”, and “a country that has lost its youth in ‘education and opportunity creation’.
The country’s economy was in shambles even before the coronavirus epidemic broke out. It received about 8% last year, and the central bank predicted a 3.1% recovery this year.
Debt rose to about 65% of household income and inflation grew. As the only dollar-rich country in South America, Ecuador has limits on what it can do to reduce its currency.
Last year it agreed $ 6.5bn rental program and the IMF but, like the epidemic, found that it could not meet the requirements. Lasso declined to comment on any of the taxes the fund had imposed.
He appointed Simón Cueva, 53, as finance minister.
“This is a good time,” said Sebastián Hurtado, chief of political advisers at Prófitas. “Apart from his actions at the central bank, Cueva spent a lot of time in government agencies and academic research. It’s not as neoliberal as other economists around Lasso, and we can see more of the developmental issues than one might think. ”
Cueva said Ecuador will begin negotiations with the IMF to end the program in the coming months.
“I hope the Lasso government has a good relationship with the fund,” Hurtado said. “The problem is inconsistent. We’ll talk. ”
Another problem facing the Lasso government is the epidemic.
Ecuador has had the second-highest death toll in the world since the crash, according to a report in the Financial Times. The answer has been chaotic: there have been five health ministers last year.
Lasso said his government was overseeing the 9m vaccine, more than half of the population, in its first 100 days – a bid to achieve a country that monitored less than 2m.