On Sunday, April 11th, Ecuadorians are slated to vote for president in a runoff election. The candidates are Guillermo Lasso, an elite 65-year-old banker, and Andrés Arauz, a 36-year-old progressive former central bank official. There is no doubt that the outcome will have a profound impact on the future of the nation. The candidates have very different visions for getting Ecuador out of the pandemic and an ongoing economic slump. Although the race has received little international attention, it has a global impact.
For many in the US, it’s easy to overlook Ecuador, a small Andean nation of fewer than 18 million people between Peru and Colombia. However, as of 2016, the country took the lead in one global campaign against the use of offshore tax havens. The The upcoming elections will be critical to whether this leadership continues.
In 2016 the leak is the Panama Papers revealed how the rich and powerful of the world had used offshore tax havens to launder money, evade taxes, and hide their wealth. The leak embroiled politicians and business leaders around the world, including numerous heads of state. The Prime Minister of Iceland had to resign after his hidden assets were exposed. Virtually no country was left untouched – including Ecuador; Lasso, it was revealed owned a bank in Panama.