QUITO – Ecuadorian opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso says he wants to win the April 2 presidential runoff to add “a little grain of sand” toward consolidating “democracy and freedom throughout Latin America.”
The current phase of leftist governments in the region “is coming to an end,” Lasso said in an interview with EFE in Quito, adding that now is the time to “turn the page and leave this story of dictatorships by a single political party behind, to reestablish democracy and freedoms” in Latin American nations.
Lasso, a 61-year-old former banker, said that if elected he will remove Ecuador from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and request entry into the Pacific Alliance made up of Peru, Colombia, Chile and Mexico, an issue he has discussed with the leaders of some of those countries, because he believes that “there are big (trade) opportunities” within the latter bloc.
The center-right candidate, who will face off in the runoff against the leftist government’s candidate, Lenin Moreno, compared ALBA with “those little cafes” where people spend their time “talking and doing nothing connected with the world.”
“We will say ‘bye bye’ to ALBA,” he said.
Lasso said he is a supporter of “good relations with all the countries of the world” and wants his prospective administration to get on well with the US, Ecuador’s main trade partner, and with Europe, although that “doesn’t mean that we’re going to get on badly either with Russia, or Iran or China. Just the opposite: we’re going to maintain very good relations within the realm of democracy, of liberty, of respect for human rights, pushing trade and investment.”
Accused by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa of holding a “sell-out” position by contending that if he wins the presidency he will ask WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave Quito’s embassy in London, where he enjoys asylum, Lasso said he espoused “a sovereign international policy.”
“It’s unjustified” for Ecuador” to be part of Assange’s legal difficulties, he said, which should resolve themselves according to international law and respect for his human rights, but which constitute a “problem in which Ecuador never should have gotten involved.”