Daniel Noboa arrived at the National Assembly of Ecuador Thursday with an air of renewal. The new president — son of millionaire Alvaro Noboa, who himself ran as a candidate five times — took the oath of office that he will exercise for 18 months and received the presidential sash in an atypical ceremony at which Colombian President Gustavo Petro was the only foreign leader in attendance, and he arrived half an hour late.
Faithful to the profile he projected during the campaign, Noboa delivered a speech lasting only seven minutes, thus breaking the pattern of lengthy discourses in a ceremony that previously could last for up to three hours. “We cannot keep repeating the same policies of the past expecting to have a different result,” said Noboa. “I invite everyone to work together against the common enemies of violence and misery. The job is hard and difficult and the days are few.”
“I am not an anti-anything; I am pro Ecuador,” the 35-year-old continued, while vindicating the idea of the different and the young. “A lot of people see youth as a synonym of naivety. For me it’s a synonym of strength to defeat the challenges that are imposed on us.”
Noboa added that he could not be pigeonholed into “old political and ideological paradigms,” in front of an assembly of legislators, the majority of whom represent those “old paradigms” and who, in addition, were dismissed by a presidential decree issued by outgoing president Guillermo Lasso in May, and with whom Noboa has reached an agreement — which has not been made public — with the Citizen Revolution Movement, tied to former president Rafael Correa, and the right-wing Social Christian party, to designate the authorities of the Assembly. Noboa did not go into who would constitute his ministerial cabinet following two departures in recent days.
Since he won the elections, Noboa has made few references to what decisions he will make in his first days in office, but in his speech he made security a priority: “To fight violence we must fight unemployment. The country needs jobs and to create them I will send urgent reforms to the assembly, which should be treated with responsibility and by putting the country first,” he said. A tax reform, of which no details have been announced, will be one of the first bills sent before the legislature and will provide a testing ground for the pact reached with the other political formations.
Noboa will assume office in a country with a fiscal deficit of more than $3.2 billion and a level of indebtedness that exceeds 62% of Ecuador’s GDP, with blackouts throughout the country due to an electricity crisis that the outgoing government failed to resolve. Ecuador is also facing a serious security emergency with one of the highest crime rates in the world: 38 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, due to the neglect of the country’s political organizations. Drug cartels have moved into the security vacuum and are waging a war among themselves for the control of trafficking routes.
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