If the Obama administration wanted to improve relations with Latin America the most obvious move would be to seek closer ties with Ecuador. Ecuador has been transformed into a nation with a stable political system, a head of state reelected by enormous margins in free elections, substantial economic progress, and a pragmatic development program. That program embraces policies that even the Washington Consensus praised that focus government expenditures on health, education, and infrastructure. The policies also champion an idea most identified with the conservative economist Hernando de Soto – making it far easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses. President Correa is the leader who continues to surprise his friends and foes by taking steps that make economic sense even if they are identified with the “right” while keeping a relentless focus on the needs of the poor. That focus on the poor comes from Correa’s Catholic social justice beliefs that the Pope has recently been returning to centrality.
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