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An anti-government demonstrator waves an Ecuadorian national flag during clashes with police in Quito, Ecuador. An anti-government demonstrator waves an Ecuadorian national flag during clashes with police in Quito, Ecuador, Oct. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Ecuador Shows How Hard It Is to Recover From a Populist Autocrat’s Rule

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020

When it comes to repairing the harm done by populist authoritarian leaders, restoring the independence of democratic institutions is often just the start. The next challenge can be to steer polarized societies through the economic belt-tightening that is required after an autocrat’s spending spree.

That seems to be the message from Ecuador, where President Lenin Moreno won overwhelming support in a 2018 constitutional referendum that overturned much of the political legacy of his predecessor and one-time mentor, the brash leftist Rafael Correa, and also blocked him from returning to office by putting a two-term limit on the presidency. But Moreno then sparked a deadly firestorm of national protests last October after signing a deal with the International Monetary Fund to restructure the debt he inherited from Correa, in part by drastically slashing fuel subsidies. ...

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