Back in Quito, as we went round the Presidential Palace (very underdressed!) the incumbent Rafael Correa was working away in his office. Unbelievably – given our European security sensitivities – just down the corridor from us.
Unable to serve another term, Correa will be replaced on April 2nd when the country votes in the presidential run-off. It’s a defining moment for the country whose economy has crash-dived on the back of falling oil prices.
Leading in the polls is Lenín Moreno who offers continuity; many we spoke to fear this will lead to Ecuador becoming another Venezuela. Meanwhile Guillermo Lasso promises to put the economy first, reduce the state and align the country more with the West.
Should Lasso win – Wikileak’s Julian Assange might be booted out of the Ecuadorian London embassy sometime soon. But don’t expect that to happen. The ruling PAIS Alliance party have distributed a lot of money to the poor, built miles of roads, hired more civil servants than really needed and might even tamper with the vote.