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Who is Guillermo Lasso, Ecuador’s New Anti-Socialist President?

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Guillermo Lasso, the winner of this Sunday’s presidential elections in Ecuador, is a former banker who has advocated “unity” and “dialogue” among all Ecuadorians as a formula to solve the serious problems afflicting his country, aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.

65 years old, has managed to reach the Presidency in his third attempt, after winning in a dramatic election by a margin of five points to his socialist rival Andrés Arauz, giving a turn to the politics of a country that has not seen a right-wing government since before 2003.

“Ecuadorians have opted for a new direction, very different from that of the last fourteen years in Ecuador,” he said from the convention palace in Guayaquil, declaring himself the winner of the elections.

Leader of the center-right Creando Oportunidades (CREO) movement, which he founded in 2012, he maintains that the schemes of left and right “have lost validity globally,” although he came to these elections allied with the right-wing Social Christian Party.

Ecuador’s president-elect has gained sympathy with the proposal of achieving economic growth and turning to a political center that has been fundamental to win unthinkable allies.

Lasso had gone to the second round after obtaining 19.74% of the votes in the February 7 elections, in which Arauz managed to lead him by more than 12 points, which in principle put him at a disadvantage.

After two defeats in the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections, the conservative politician assured that he had taken note of the needs of the people.

Experience in the private and public sector

Born in Guayaquil to a middle-class family, Lasso is a shareholder of Banco de Guayaquil. He completed a diploma in Business Administration at the Instituto de Desarrollo Empresarial and, in 2011, the Universidad de las Américas of Ecuador awarded him the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa.

A calm speaker, he is a personal friend of personalities such as José María Aznar and Mario Vargas Llosa, and has accumulated half a century of experience in both the private and public sectors.

In 1989 he was executive president of Banco Guayaquil, where in 2008 he founded the Banco del Barrio, recognized by the IDB as the largest Bancarization project in Latin America.

In 2012 he resigned from the management of the Bank, of which he remains one of its main shareholders, to devote himself to politics.

During his time in public life, Lasso was also governor of the province of Guayas between 1998 and 1999.

Presidential campaigns

With the founding of the CREO movement in 2012, Lasso began his journey towards the Carondelet palace, seat of the Executive, but in the 2013 elections he lost to Rafael Correa, who swept in the first round.

In the second round of 2017, amid allegations of fraud, he lost by 2.3 percentage points to Lenín Moreno, who was running as heir to Correa (2007-2017) but with whom he soon after fell out.

“For more than ten years I have been preparing to be president of Ecuador. I started by traveling around the country, talking to people, knowing their problems, their needs. Then I promoted a think tank, ‘Ecuador Libre’, to study solutions to those social problems,” Lasso assured about his major preparation for these elections.

Ecuador is dragging a debt of almost 70 billion dollars that will make the next president’s job difficult, and the consequences of the pandemic include high unemployment, poverty and a weakened private sector.

Therefore, he appealed to his professional experience and offered to leave behind the 21st century socialism of Correa and Arauz.

“I want to be president to deepen a change that allows us to look at the world without fear or complexes, because therein lies our opportunity to grow”, assured this candidate, an enemy of confrontation and open to public scrutiny.

A fierceful defender of market economy, Lasso wants to govern with an optimized state apparatus and to dynamize the private sector, while in his foreign policy he advocates an openness without ideological biases and a special relationship with the United States, his country’s main trading partner.

Personal life

Youngest of eleven siblings, Lasso is married, has five children and seven grandchildren.

A Catholic in his religious beliefs, he opposes abortion and, although he says he respects same-sex unions, he does not consider them a “marriage.”

Less sensitive to criticism than in the past, for him, the last eleven years have been a road full of challenges, but he says he feels prepared “to transform Ecuador into a land of opportunities.”

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