Sunday, October 15, 2006

Shades of Chavez in Ecuador's Front-Runner

"QUITO, Ecuador — An audacious South American politician has made an unflattering comparison between President Bush and the devil, threatened to nationalize oil production and expressed his commitment to popular revolution. And it's not Hugo Chavez.

The rhetoric of Rafael Correa, the favorite in today's presidential election here, could pass for that of Chavez, the Venezuelan leader. Correa, a 43-year-old U.S.-educated economist, has struck a stridently anti-U.S. tone in a campaign in which he has come from nowhere in the polls three months ago to assume a commanding lead.

Although a runoff election on Nov. 26 is likely, Correa is seen by analysts as the odds-on favorite to become Ecuador's next president.

The strongest among his 12 competitors, banana magnate Alvaro Noboa and former Vice President Leon Roldos, are both 5 percentage points or more behind him.

Correa's rise in the polls has stirred apprehension among those who fear he would join Chavez, Bolivia's Evo Morales and Argentina's Nestor Kirchner in a coterie of U.S.-bashing Latin American leaders."

No comments: