When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Rafael Correa, A Reminder Why Latin America Needs Term Limits

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa insists he will retire from politics when his term ends. Yet he has spent the past year lobbying to end presidential term limits, which a loyal parliament has now granted. Does he have a hidden agenda to remain in power?

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Dec. 10
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Dec. 10
Marcelo Ostria Trigo


QUITO — Ecuador's parliament voted earlier this month to amend the constitution and end presidential term limits, a drastic step that critics warn is terrible for democracy. Voters were told that the move would not benefit current President Rafael Correa because he has pledged not to stand for reelection in 2017, but he was the one to mobilize the effort, and who's to say he wouldn't take four years off and then run again.

Sensing that Correa is being disingenuous, voters took to the streets in mass protests, which police and soldiers violently repressed. The only other Latin American countries with provisions eliminating presidential term limits are Venezuela and Nicaragua, both ruled by authoritarian, discretionary and kleptocratic governments.

One Ecuadoran opposition leader complained that legislators from his area were prevented from weighing in on the debate, and explained that his objections go beyond the issue of whether President Correa runs for the presidency in 2017. "The only important thing here," he said, "is to defend the principle of democratic alternation, whose importance is illustrated in the experience of many generations across Latin America."

The amendment in Ecuador bucks the Latin American trend to block indefinite reelection of leaders who might be inclined to remain in power for good. Colombia provided the most recent case, when its parliament absolutely prohibited reelection, while the same applies in Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay. A similar initiative was recently introduced in Brazil's congress.

Correa's intentions are unclear, and perhaps that's just his intention. He observed, rather glibly, that parliament had "found it hard" to accept that he would not be a candidate in 2017. The president predicted that his party would nevertheless win the 2017 presidential elections, which would assure the continuation of the populist project he calls Citizens Revolution. It is Ecuador's version of Venzeuela's 21st Century Socialism brand.

As regional analyst Carlos Malamud recently asked, how are we to interpret Correa's comments? Are they tactical, a prudent response at a time when falling commodities prices are threatening his government and complicating its future? Or do they express a legitimate desire to retire from politics for good?

Given his nature, we can practically rule out a permanent political break. Correa considers the Citizens Revolution his own creation, much too precious to be left in anyone else's hands. Unfortunately, beyond the expectations his declarations are meant to shape, it seems that personal rule will once more prevail over institutions in Ecuador.

Being — and staying — in power is a constant of populist regimes and dictatorships. Bolivia is taking similar steps through a referendum that could allow a second reelection. This clearly will benefit the sitting president, Evo Morales, who would remain 15 years in power in addition to the four years that were illegally discounted when he was re-elected in December 2014. The reason, they stated in Bolivia, was that the first presidential years were not in the new Plurinational State of Bolivia but in the old constitutional regime. Call it another take on democracy!

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Profound And Simple Reason That Negotiations Are Not An Option For Ukraine

The escalation of war in the Middle East and the stagnation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive have left many leaders in the West, who once supported Ukraine unequivocally, to look toward ceasefire talks with Russia. For Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr Andrusieczko argues that Ukraine simply cannot afford this.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers in winter gear, marching behind a tank in a snowy landscape

Ukrainian soldiers ploughing through the snow on the frontlines

Volodymyr Zelensky's official Facebook account
Piotr Andrusieczko


KYIVUkraine is fighting for its very existence, and the war will not end soon. What should be done in the face of this reality? How can Kyiv regain its advantage on the front lines?

It's hard to deny that pessimism has been spreading among supporters of the Ukrainian cause, with some even predicting ultimate defeat for Kyiv. It's difficult to agree with this, considering how this war began and what was at stake. Yes, Ukraine has not won yet, but Ukrainians have no choice for now but to continue fighting.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

These assessments are the result of statements by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and an interview with him in the British weekly The Economist, where the General analyzes the causes of failures on the front, notes the transition of the war to the positional phase, and, critically, evaluates the prospects and possibilities of breaking the deadlock.

Earlier, an article appeared in the American weekly TIME analyzing the challenges facing President Volodymyr Zelensky. His responses indicate that he is disappointed with the attitude of Western partners, and at the same time remains so determined that, somewhat lying to himself, he unequivocally believes in victory.

Combined, these two publications sparked discussions about the future course of the conflict and whether Ukraine can win at all.

Some people outright predict that what has been known from the beginning will happen: Russia will ultimately win, and Ukraine has already failed.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest