In the pantheon of Ecuadorian leaders, Correa is fitting in nicely

Ok people bear with me for some history. Among its presidents, Ecuador can count Abdala Bucaram or “El Loco Ladron” (the crazy thief).  And,  in the 10 years between “El Loco” and Correa, the presidency changed hands 7 times!!

So in some ways Correa is an outlier in that he’s been in there for almost 9 years now.

But in other ways, it’s meet the new loco, same as the old loco

So most recently, Rafa got epically trolled by a future voter:

CCCHAuXW0AQ3EyN.jpg-large

Later that week, he also tweeted out the following:

Did I mention he has a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois?

Blood is thicker than tarmac

There’s an interesting NBER working paper this week called “The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya.”  The authors find that regions that share the same ethnicity as the president also get favored when it comes to road building.  In the 1963 to 2011 period, these areas get twice as much roadwork funds allocated to them and have four times the amount of paved roads built.

In some sense this is unfortunate but not all that surprising.  What is surprising and hopeful is that this relationship between ethnicity and roads goes away when Kenya has democratic government.

Here is a photo of a road in what must have been a president’s home region:

kenya_roads2

 

and here’s one perhaps from an ethnicity not as lucky:

kenya_roads

 

 

Mexico in transition

I am currently enjoying Jo Tuckman’s excellent Mexico: Democracy Interrupted.  The book is an important reminder that even though Mexico’s one party rule ended almost 15 years ago, the country is still in a period of transition, and a lot of what worked under the monopoly of the PRI is no longer possible.

For instance, here’s an interesting example of the age-old Mexican corporatism in current times (word of warning: acronyms abound in Mexico)

The Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB] recently called a meeting with a number of institutions to talk over a new agricultural development plan.  One of the groups, UNTA (the national union of agricultural workers and campesinos (peasants)), was angry that the National Council of Rural and Fisheries Organizations [CONOR] and the National Council of Campesino Organizations [CONOC] and the National Campesino Confederacy were also invited to the meeting. [question: how many campesino unions are there in Mexico?]

When I saw that the group was angry, however, I am unfortunately not exaggerating.  Members stormed out of the meeting and “tore down fences that protect the streets General Prim and Abraham González with the intention of demonstrating at the main entrance of the Secretariat. The police commander [who identified himself as] Spartacus, a negotiator for the police, tried to reach an agreement with some members of the UNTA, but he was ignored and they continued to beat at the police with sticks and stones.”

The protest, which lasted about 20 minutes, injured 6 police offers and 19 UNTA representatives (according to the group).

Perhaps the most amazing part of this story is that after these attacks, the government relented, allowing them to enter the Secretariat offices and begin negotiating again.

h/t Mexico Voices