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World

Arauz planning to change Ecuador agreements if elected

  • Ecuador seized a record 128 tons of drugs in 2020, even though the country produces very little itself.
Updated 08 Apr 2021

QUITO: Leftist presidential candidate Andres Arauz has big plans to change Ecuador's course if elected on Sunday, when he faces right-wing contender Guillermo Lasso in a runoff.

Arauz, 36, wants to renegotiate a $6.5 billion debt with the International Monetary Fund, alter anti-narcotics agreements with the United States, and even hold President Lenin Moreno legally responsible for his handling of the hard-hit country's coronavirus response.

Despite wanting to renegotiate the IMF agreement, "we're not going to declare a moratorium against the IMF," Arauz told AFP.

He said that under a renegotiated deal, he would seek a slower reduction in public spending and insist that US dollars "must be kept in Ecuador so there's greater economic activity."

Separately he would aim to negotiate with Washington to redraw accords on fighting drug trafficking.

The United States can currently conduct operations against drug trafficking and illegal fishing in Ecuadoran territory and is even permitted to use an airport on the Galapagos Islands.

The world's top two cocaine producers are neighboring Colombia and Peru, with much of the output passing through Ecuador on its way to either Europe or the United States.

"We cannot forget that the US is the (main) consumer country of drugs in the region and on the planet," Arauz said.

"Given that, we aim to adjust the cooperation conditions. There must be cooperation with the US, Mexico, the Central American countries and our neighbors."

Ecuador seized a record 128 tons of drugs in 2020, even though the country produces very little itself.

"Unfortunately, Ecuador is a transit country and that's starting to have ramifications in terms of social violence," said Arauz.

"We're going to act to eradicate the violence, we're going to cooperate with consumer countries."