Mon, Feb 18, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Correa favorite in Ecuadorean election

FRONTRUNNER:Ecuador’s leader is popular with many in the country who have welcomed reforms and rising incomes, but critics say he has stifled opposition groups

AP, QUITO

The number of people working for the government has burgeoned from 16,000 to 90,000 during Correa’s current term, Ecuador’s non-governmental Observatory of Fiscal Policy said in a report in December last year.

Correa also has been unable to stop a growing sensation of vulnerability in a country where robberies and burglaries grew 30 percent last year compared with the previous year.

Correa gained a reputation as a maverick early on, defying international financiers by defaulting on US$3.9 billion in foreign-debt obligations.

He has also kept the US at arm’s length, and upset Britain and Sweden in August last year by granting asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, the online spiller of leaked US government secrets who is wanted for questioning in Sweden for alleged sexual assault.

Correa has cozied up to US rivals Iran and China. The latter is the biggest buyer of Ecuador’s oil and holds US$3.4 billion in Ecuadorean debt, Ecuadorean Finance Minister Patricio Rivera said.

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