Dirty campaign intensifies against progressive candidate Andrés Arauz

Several members of the progressive Union for Hope (UNES) alliance, including its presidential candidate Andrés Arauz, former president Rafael Correa, among others, are denouncing that plans to suspend the February 7 general elections are underway in Ecuador

February 04, 2021 by Tanya Wadhwa
Progressive candidate Andrés Arauz has received a series of attacks in the days leading up the the elections. Photo: Twitter Arauz

On February 2, former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa warned about a new attempt to suspend the upcoming general elections in the country. The former head of state indicated that the possibility of a clear and resounding first-round victory of the progressive Union for Hope (UNES) alliance ticket, with Andrés Arauz and Carlos Rabascall, worries the government and its allies. He stressed that they are “desperate” and are making every possible effort to disqualify the UNES presidential ticket and eliminate progressivism from the electoral race.

“New attempt to suspend the elections! They know that they will lose in the first round and they are desperate. Now they will attempt to do it through the Electoral Dispute Tribunal (TCE), a complaint received yesterday by judge Ángel Torres (the WORST!) Álvaro Noboa already announced this morning that the elections would be postponed for 2 months UNACCEPTABLE!,” denounced Correa in a tweet.

In his tweet, socialist leader Correa condemned the complaint filed by Luis Verdesoto, a member of the National Electoral Council (CNE), against Arauz-Rabascall ticket, seeking the suspension of political rights of the candidates over “serious violation of electoral laws.” Verdesoto accused Arauz and Rabascall of allegedly conducting free coronavirus testing in exchange for votes and filed a complaint with the TCE on January 29. Verdesoto remained that donations and distribution of gifts to citizens, except for regulated promotional items during campaign, is prohibited. His complaint also included the UNES attorney, Joseph Santiago Díaz Asque, and campaign manager, Diana Liceth Cruz Murillo. Verdesoto requested the TCE to apply a fine of 8,000 USD, dismiss Díaz and Cruz, and suspend the political rights of the UNES presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

The evidence that Verdesoto presented with his complaint was some Twitter posts from journalists who shared photos and information about the free tests in their personal accounts, which are offered in premises decorated with colors and posters of the UNES ticket, reported El Telégrafo.

In the same regard, former legislator and lawyer Mauro Andino said that the complaint has no legal basis because “the counselor takes as reference photos from Twitter without an examination to determine the validity of those photos.” However, he warned that the electoral authorities could use this process to invalidate Arauz’s victory. “They want to leave a legal process open. This way, in case Arauz wins, they could issue a sentence and suspend his political rights,” Andino told TeleSUR. He called on citizens, alternative media and international observers to remain vigilant to the possibility of electoral irregularities.

The UNES also rejected the allegations and denounced the case as a part of the dirty campaign promoted by the country’s right-wing against the alliance.

In Ecuador, a country that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the recession and the lack of response from current president Lenín Moreno’s government, the election battle is being fought on social media. In the days leading to the elections, the attacks against Arauz, who represents the movement led by Correa, have deepened in social networks. He has been accused of allegedly offering money to votes, financing his election campaign irregular means, among others. The main figures of the UNES, including former president Correa, are being attacked and defamed. Allegations were also made trying to link Correa and UNES with Colombia left-wing armed group, the National Liberation Army (ELN). Arauz’s official website –www.andresarauz.ec– suffered more than 24 million digital attacks in between February 1 and 2.

Meanwhile, businessman Álvaro Noboa, who could not take part in the elections due to untimely registration, called on the people, through his social media accounts, not to go to the polls because of “the pandemic” and because “these elections are illegitimate” as the CNE didn’t approve his candidacy for presidency.

Last week, on January 30, in another tweet, former president Correa denounced that the CNE might suspend the elections scheduled for February 7 because Arauz would win. In the same tweet, Correa also denounced Moreno’s meeting with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, who was complicit in pushing the narrative of an election fraud in Bolivian 2019 elections, which led to the coup that overthrew former Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“There is a very serious alert that the CNE is meeting to suspend elections, because Arauz wins. This coincides with the meeting of Almagro and Moreno in Washington to obtain the approval, and the threat that, if they did not do so, the councillors would be dismissed tomorrow,” wrote Correa.

This denouncement came when the CNE was analyzing the possibility of postponing the elections for the members of the Andean Parliament due to a delay in printing of its ballots. However, the printed process eventually began on January 31. Nevertheless, various legislators and leaders, associated with Corresimo, have expressed concerns about the timely distribution of these ballots throughout the country. They have warned that the inefficient distribution of ballots runs the risk of annulling the whole democratic process.

On February 2, the vice-president of the CNE, Enrique Pita, requested the revocation of the electoral observer status for two Spanish delegates, Manuel Pineda and Juan Carlos Monedero. He argued that they have publicly demonstrated themselves (through their tweets) in favor of the correista candidate Andrés Arauz, which constitutes a violation of the “principles of impartiality, objectivity, certainty and legality of an election observer.”

Numerous political leaders, intellectuals and social activists from across the globe have stressed that democracy is at risk in Ecuador and have called on the international missions and observers to closely monitor the elections and ensure that the will of the Ecuadorian people is respected.

According to the latest polls on voter intention, Arauz is in first place, receiving between 29.6% and 41.4% of the votes. He is followed by Guillermo Lasso of the Creating Opportunities and Social Christian party coalition with a support of between 18.5% and 32% of the votes.

According to the Ecuadorian Constitution, in order to win the presidential election in the first round, a candidate has to obtain more than 50% of the votes or more than 40% of the votes with a 10% lead over the runner-up. In case no candidate manages this in the first round, a run-off will be held between the two leading candidates on April 11.

This Sunday, on February 7, more than 13 million Ecuadorians will go to the polls to elect the country’s next president, vice-president and 137 legislators, as well as five members of the Andean Parliament for the period 2021-2025. They will have the opportunity to vote and choose Arauz’s model of social protection and escape the misery caused by Moreno’s neoliberal reforms.

× To Subscribe