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Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old center-right businessman and heir to one of Latin America’s wealthiest families, won Ecuador’s presidential election on Sunday, beating leftist opponent Luisa Gonázlez 52% to 48%, according to near-complete results. Gonázlez, a protégé of exiled former President Rafael Correa, conceded Sunday night.
Noboa will serve only until May 2025, completing the truncated term of outgoing President Guillermo Lasso, who dissolved the National Assembly in May as it prepared to impeach him over alleged corruption. Noboa served in the legislature from 2021 until it was dissolved. He centered his campaign around the economy and jobs, but the presidential race was increasingly dominated by Ecuador’s soaring gang violence.
One candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, was shot dead in August while campaigning against corruption and the Colombian, Mexican, and Albanian drug cartels that have turned the once-peaceful nation into a key route for cocaine trafficking. Homicides and public displays of violence have skyrocketed accordingly.
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Noboa’s father, Álvaro Noboa, built a business empire on the Bonita banana company and is now Ecuador’s wealthiest person. He ran unsuccessfully for president five times. Daniel Noboa went to college at Harvard, founded his own event promotion company at age 18, then joined his father’s corporation. He will be the youngest president of Ecuador, a country where about half the electorate identifies as millennial or Gen Z, The Washington Post reported.
Ecuadorians “had a universal demand throughout the campaign: safety,” The Associated Press reported. Noboa “has vowed to rein in the violence,” though he did not make “security a central part of his campaign,” The New York Times added. And with little government experience and no legislative majority in the National Assembly, expectations are pretty low for his success.
“I think this presidency is going to be the worst job in Latin America for the next year and a half,” Will Freeman, a Latin America expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Wall Street Journal. And Noboa seems especially ill-equipped to tackle the country’s problems, Freeman told AP. “His proposals on security were erratic, and they gave the sense that he was improvising.”
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