Ecuador presidential contest would showcase sibling rivalry

Miami HeraldDecember 12, 2010 

MIAMI — One of the Western Hemisphere's fiercest sibling rivalries might get played out on a national stage.

Fabricio Correa -- the brash older brother of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa -- says he'll take on his hermanito at the ballot box in 2012, unless a more viable opposition candidate comes along.

If he makes good on the threat, it's likely to produce a nasty and memorable presidential race in a region known for its political theater.

On the streets of Quito, graffiti artists call Fabricio "Cain'' -- the biblical brother who murdered his sibling.

Fabricio rails against the president for surrounding himself with people he calls communists and guerrilla sympathizers. He refers to his brother's cabinet as ``the pink circle'' because he claims it's stacked with gay people.

In Miami recently, Fabricio, 50, said a potential presidential bid is not about family one-upmanship but about the future of Ecuador -- a nation of 15 million renowned for the Galápagos Islands and its flower exports.

President Correa, 47, a former university professor and U.S.-trained economist, won the presidency in 2007 as a political outsider with a populist touch.

Once in office, his ambitious social programs, his willingness to rewrite oil and trade deals in the nation's favor, and a steady dose of anti-imperialist rhetoric, made him a darling of Latin America's left. The country joined the ALBA bloc of nations -- led by Venezuela and Cuba -- in 2009.

He also has a penchant for drama. When he confronted protesting policeman earlier this year he clawed open his shirt and screamed ``kill me if you want.''

Correa's policies have alienated some in the business community and scared foreign investors, but they seem to resonate in Ecuador.

THEIR CHARISMA

Correa has an approval rating in excess of 50 percent. If the elections were held today, he would win with 38 percent of the vote, according to the Cedatos polling firm. Fabricio would come in a distant fifth with 2.8 percent of vote.

Fabricio -- a tall man with silver hair and green eyes, who exudes the same charisma as his brother -- is not intimidated by the polls.

He says he has private polling data that put him within striking distance of the presidency, and he claims his vocal stance against government corruption and a swelling crime wave have touched a nerve.

at MiamiHerald.com

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