Credits: Karen Toro// Reuters

From Father to Son: The Noboa Dynasty Triumphs in Ecuador

Many believe that children allow parents to see their dreams come true, and for Alvaro Noboa, his son Daniel became the successful sixth attempt to realise a lifelong dream: to become President of Ecuador.

Daniel Noboa, at 35 years old, has secured the position of Ecuador’s latest president. On the surface, he may seem like a pretty ordinary citizen, boasting a stable marriage, two children with a third on the way, and a disciplined daily routine of running eight kilometers and weightlifting. He refrains from affiliating with any particular political party, claims no clear ideological stance, and promotes liberal values while advocating for lower taxes. However, his familial background reveals more than meets the eye, as he is the son of the Ecuadorian multi-millionaire Alvaro Noboa.


“Premature” Elections

The circumstances surrounding these elections are far from typical. This young president will assume office in December, inheriting a term that lasts only 16 months – the remaining period of Guillermo Lasso’s presidency. To avoid an impending impeachment trial on corruption charges,  the former president dissolved the Assembly in May and called for new elections in a procedure known as “cross-death.” Ecuador’s current state is dire, marked by a stagnant economy, a surge in prison riots, and an alarming increase in homicides. Just in September of this year, the nation reported 3,600 homicides, double the figure from last year. Ecuador, previously sheltered from the issues associated with drug trafficking and guerrilla conflicts in the region, has seen the infiltration of drug cartels due to its dollarized economy (i.e. the country has adopted the United States dollar) and extensive Pacific coast, making it an appealing ground for organized crime.

Ecuador’s elections have drawn international attention due to intriguing political developments and have taken on a more sinister undertone. The murder of Fernando Villavicencio, a presidential candidate dedicated to fighting corruption, sent shockwaves around the world. On August 9, a group of six Colombians assassinated him at the end of an election rally, casting doubt on the country’s quest for a new political direction and plunging it into uncertainty.


Between the Neoliberal Perspective and the Proposal of a Sovereign Nation

At the heart of this electoral battle stand two candidates who were, until recently, largely unknown to their fellow citizens: Luisa González, representing the left-wing Citizen Revolution party, and Daniel Noboa, an unaffiliated candidate with significant support from backers.

Noboa’s victory challenges correísmo (left-wing economic populism and social conservatism), the political movement tied to Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador from 2007 to 2017. Correa  endorsed González, a relatively unknown and uncharismatic politician, as his candidate Yet, the promise of returning to a past era of thriving on oil revenues and alleviating poverty fell short with the electorate. She struggled to connect with voters and distance herself from her polarizing mentor Correa.

In 2025, Ecuador will hold new elections and the correísmo movement will strive to regain control from the neoliberal right and pro-U.S. forces. They may achieve this by considering a renomination of González or by anticipating a resolution of the legal issues surrounding former President Correa (who is currently facing corruption charges), which could enable his return to the political scene.


The Banana Tycoon with a History of Labor Exploitation

The Noboa family, meanwhile, ranks among Ecuador’s most influential political and economic dynasties. Daniel is realizing a family ambition, as his father, Alvaro Noboa, with his staggering wealth of $910 million, has made no less than five attempts to ascend to Ecuador’s presidency. He consistently presented himself as a savior of the masses, generously bestowing computers, food parcels, and cash upon the needy during his seemingly endless (and failed) election campaigns.

But behind the desire to save the masses lies something more: accusations of child labor exploitation, unjust terminations, and intimidation of striking workers. In April 2002, at least ten striking workers lost their lives under suspicious circumstances on the Noboas’ Los Álamos plantation, raising significant concerns about workers’ conditions and the role of companies in labor disputes.The ethical dilemma here is clear: when a person is not only tied to a powerful private business group through family connections but also holds a significant position in the company’s executive team, having them lead the government raises serious concerns.

This becomes even more thought-provoking within the backdrop of Ecuador’s official dollarized economy and its deep connections with the USA, where the Noboa family’s close ties to American economic and political interests intensify the complexities of the situation.


What’s next?

As Ecuador ushers in this new era, we must collectively ponder its future. What direction will the nation take under Daniel Noboa’s leadership, and will it truly represent the interests and aspirations of all its citizens? How can Ecuador tackle its pressing issues, from economic stagnation to violence and crime? And, most importantly, how can it ensure that its government remains transparent, accountable, and free from conflicts of interest?

The story of Ecuador’s future remains unwritten, and the responsibility for shaping it falls not only on its leaders but also on its engaged and vigilant citizens. Because in the end, who are governments for if not the citizens?


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