• Latin America The drug war and extreme violence plague Ecuador on the eve of a decisive referendum

As soon as the polling stations closed on Sunday in Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso's collaborators began to set the stage for the president to launch his triumphant message to the country.

The polls predicted the victory in the eight questions of the referendum

, the great bet of the former Conservative banker to recover the political pulse lost since the successful vaccination campaign during the pandemic.

The message was scheduled for 8:00 p.m.

The minutes passed while some took


near the stage and others reluctantly waved the tricolor flags.

The first delay was half an hour, the second a little longer.

But the president never appeared.

The polls had failed once again and the political cataclysm was already a fact.

Rafael Correa, Lasso's great political enemy, returned through the front door

of municipal politics thanks to the triumph of his candidates in the most important cities, including the capital Quito and Guayaquil, the jewel in the Crown governed for decades by the Social Party Christian (PSC).

The first electoral punch made him stagger, the second directly left Lasso on the canvas.

With the vote count at 65%, the eight questions of the referendum carefully prepared to become a political balm after two years of administrative paralysis, lack of leadership, a terrible choice of his team and the first corruption scandals

have not been approved by Ecuadorians


Not even the two main ones, the most populist: the extradition of drug leaders to the US and the reduction in the number of deputies in the National Assembly.

More than 260,000 ballots, 6%, separate the No from the Yes in the first question of the extradition, which the Government still desperately dreams of saving because a large part of the votes in Guayas, the area hardest hit by the organized crime, and the province of Pichincha, which is home to the capital.

The very slow count of the National Electoral Council (CNE) has even provoked anger among the public powers.

Lasso now faces an even more complex crossroads than the one forced by the failed referendum.

Some of his collaborators want the conservative leader to dare with a constitutional tool, the "cross death", with which he would dissolve the Assembly and call general elections in six months.

Until then he would govern through decree law, without the obstacle of a Parliament determined to hinder his political work.

The other option is to endure in a numantine way, with Parliament against it and with the recomposition of power of correísmo, which can lead the country to an institutional crisis of ungovernability.

"Moral for Lasso:

the votes reveal that he has to give a radical turn to his government strategy

. Otherwise, his greatest legacy will be the return of populist and authoritarian correísmo," said analyst Alberto Acosta-Burneo.

The results in the local elections and what is known so far about the referendum also confirm the continental trend since 2019: the opposition always wins, which favors the left.

The second pink wave seems unstoppable, at least until the elections in Argentina are held.

"The citizen revolution returns! Ecuador resurfaces! We are a homeland again

," Correa harangued his followers after confirming the triumph of his people, with perfect doubles (Prefecture and Mayor's Office) in Pichincha, Guayas, Santo Domingo, Santa Elena and Cañar .

Correa lived election day from Mexico, since he is a fugitive from Ecuadorian justice, after being sentenced to eight years in prison for corruption.

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