One thing I appreciate about Rafael Correa's mouth: He can't keep it shut. I'm guessing that a lot of people in Ecuador are like me in that we look forward to each Saturday morning and the Presi's radio program wherein he pronounces, expounds, fulminates (and fumes), insults, threatens, jokes, and generally makes an idiot of himself.
These last couple of weeks, Correa's continued his insults and threats of lawsuits against the press, accusing them, as usual of being corrupt, mediocre, and mendacious. In a new twist, the President has told the people that if they want (real, true) information, they should go to his website and/or read his press releases. No, really, that's what he said.
As well, in last Saturday's memorable program, which took place in Cuenca, he called a local lady reporter there a "gordita horrorosa", because he didn't like the questions she was asking. He then went on to characterize the press in Ecuador as "bestias salvajes", although he did try to cover/excuse himself by saying that he was merely using same phrase that PM Tony Blair had used in referring to the media in Great Britain.
Over these same last two weeks, things have not gone well for the President and his government in Congress in that two of his proposed laws dealing with the banking system and its policies, and the energy sector, were either rejected (energy) or modified drastically (banking). As I mentioned in my last posting, Correa has not taken kindly to those setbacks and he's said that he believes that the Constituent Assembly, once in session, should disslove Congress.
In a further development on the banking law, Correa vetoed parts of the modifed bill sent him, and over the last couple of days, Congress came up with the votes to override his veto. Interestingly, the veto override has been made possible because of votes coming from the "Bloque de Dignidad", the group of roughly 40-50 Diputados (depending on how you calculate the group) who replaced the famous fired 57 in April.
Most, if not all, of the Bloque had been viewed as allies of Correa because they had dared to replaced the fired guys, and it was generally assumed that the Bloque would pretty much do Correa's bidding. Well, it hasn't worked out that way, and quite a few of the Bloque people have shown themselves to be capable of defying Correa's wishes. Many of them maintain that they owe their allegiance to their constituencies and their consciences(!), not to Correa.
Correa has responded by characterizing all Diputados who voted against him as having sold themselves to the bankers, and he's promised to name all Diputados whom he says have been bought, on his next Saturday radio program scheduled for this morning, as it happens.
I've noticed that Correa and his team are absolutely terrible lobbyists, when it comes to negotiating with Congress and its members. The banking law experience is the most recent (but not the only) example of this. Two of Correa's appointees to the Bank Board spent a lot of time on the floor of Congress, but instead of schmoozing with swing voters or trying persuade some of the oppo to come around to their point of view, they engaged in heavy handed, threatening manuevers with mostly Bloque de Dignidad people. I must say that I was surprised at how a lot of the Bloque people stood up to the Correa reps, essentially telling them to get lost; indeed, at one point in debate this week on the veto override, the Correa people were directed to leave the floor so as allow the Diputados to do their job.
The net effect of Correa's mouthing off and his heavy-handed, threatening approach to dissent has been to broaden and harden opposition to the man, for which I am glad. Many people have not taken kindly to Correa's general and personal attacks on the press and indeed, anyone who differs with him. More and more op-ed commentary is anti-Correa and now, post CA referendum, people are beginning to wonder about Correa's avowed intention of controlling the Constituent Assembly and its results.
Correa's emotional immaturity (perhaps lack of emotional intelligence is a better phrase), his style, and his tactics are only just now getting widespread attention (and rejection) within the world of political commentators, although he's been clear and open on many of his political objectives for the country since the beginning.
While many of his objectives are laudable and in some cases, even necessary, in my opinion, Correa's arrogant, insulting, and overbearing attitudes are alienating more and more of the electorate here. That growing popular alienation, generated by Correa's own words and actions, represents a real and growing threat to Correa's agenda and Correa's own tenure. He and his agenda would be very well served if he were to keep his mouth shut and his mind open to the views of others; if he doesn't his popular base will shrink to the point where he becomes irrelevant to the political future of the country, and that would be a shame.