Luncheon Discussion with Lucio Gutierrez
Lucio Gutiérrez spoke at a luncheon co-sponsored by the Latin American Program and the Inter-American Dialogue. The event was held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Gutiérrez is a candidate for president of Ecuador for the January 21st Patriotic Society party, a party he formed to commemorate the January 21, 2000 triumvirate coup in which he participated. Gutiérrez won the first round of presidential elections in October with 20.4% of the vote. The runner-up and his opponent for the second round elections, Álvaro Noboa, finished with 17.4% of the vote.
Gutiérrez was in Washington DC as part of a US tour of Miami, New York, and Washington. The goal of his trip was to reassure foreign investors and international agencies such as the IMF and World Bank that he would be a fiscally responsible president and ask for their help resolving Ecuador's problems. Throughout his visit to the United States and his speech at the luncheon, Gutiérrez reiterated his desire to listen to suggestions and to create a bilateral dialogue. In his speech, he asked for international cooperation in resolving Ecuador's problems, which he identified as corruption, poverty, and a lack of competitiveness.
Gutiérrez proposed to begin combating corruption by depoliticizing the judiciary and creating a fourth function of the state for control and accountability. He demonstrated the need for this fourth branch by saying that in at least three recent administrations, there had been unchecked theft and misuse of public funds. Unfortunately, in all of these instances the mechanisms of control were complicit in this embezzlement. Because public functionaries, even those related to the judiciary and to control, are appointed and not elected, they are intimately tied to the political power of the president, congress, and political parties.
Gutiérrez proposed investing more in education and health and creating jobs in new, non-oil sectors such as tourism and mining to combat poverty. According to Gutiérrez, there are many steps that need to be taken to improve Ecuador's competitiveness. For example, he would invest in hydroelectric power to lower the country's energy costs, reduce the amount of time that bureaucratic red tape requires, and lower interest rates. Gutiérrez enumerated several types of security which must be present for there to be peace and prosperity in Ecuador, and said his administration would work to insure that all Ecuadorians enjoyed citizen security, judicial security, social security, environmental security, and food security.
Gutiérrez explained that he had come to the United States and to Washington DC to help recuperate Ecuador's credibility. He said that foreign investors should view Ecuador as a serious alternative for investment.