News | Political Parties / Election Analyses - Andes Region Ecuador’s New President is a Billionaire’s Son

What Daniel Noboa’s agenda will mean for the future of the country


Daniel Noboa during a meeting of the National Assembly in November 2022.
Daniel Noboa during a meeting of the National Assembly in November 2022. Photo: Christian Medina

At 35, Daniel Noboa, who won Ecuador’s presidential run-off last Sunday, is one of the youngest presidents in the world. He defines his political position as centre-left but is actually politically centre-right. The Noboa family built their billion-dollar empire on real estate dealing and banana exports, becoming one of the richest families in Ecuador.

Noboa’s father was a runner-up in several presidential elections and Daniel Noboa started his campaign as an outsider. His surprising entry into the run-off can be attributed to the public’s perception of him as a new, young anti-politician and his skilful campaign, which focused on avoiding the political polarization and oppositional nature of Correism (the movement of ex-President Rafael Correa) and anti-Correism, which is increasingly encountering resistance, especially amongst young voters.

His campaign was successful in parts of the country with a large population of undecided voters, where he focused on distributing food and offering medical care, which was organized by his mother who is a doctor. As his family paid for his campaign, it is assumed that his policies will be aligned with the interests of export oligarchs.

Noboa has appointed Verónica Abad, who didn’t miss a beat during the campaign, as his future vice president. Abad was sent to Miami to gather votes from Ecuadorians in exile and is responsible for Ecuador’s migration policies.

Abad has suggested that the government should stay out of the economy, education, health care, and pensions, adding that contemporary women present themselves in a particularly ugly fashion, which she blames on Marxism.

Abad considers herself a “traditional woman” who follows the teachings of the Bible and believes that feminists invented the problem of violence against women to make money.

Security Policy

Violence and organized crime in Ecuador escalated under the neoliberal government lead by Guillermo Lasso (2021–present). The crises faced by prisons, including regular massacres of inmates, are linked to criminal gangs fighting over control of drug trafficking sites like Pacific Ocean ports and the Columbian border. Contract killings and violence against leading politicians like the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio have also increased.

An increase in unemployment and a lack of access to public education or health care has affected most vulnerable populations. The number of people who emigrate because of a lack of prospects and threats of violence is increasing constantly. In 2023, Ecuadorians were the second-largest group (after Venezuelans) attempting to migrate to the United States via the dangerous Darién Gap that links Colombia and Panamá.

The government’s current programme includes the following points aimed at improving security in the country:

  • Seeking economic development in collaboration with the most prominent corporations in order to promote employment in popular sectors of the economy.
  • Improving rehabilitation of offenders and prevention measures, along with improving prison conditions and expediting judicial proceedings.
  • Abolishing limits for personal consumption of narcotics currently in place in Ecuador, which Noboa suggests is the reason for increased violence in schools.
  • Establishing specific juries in the judicial system that try cases related to drug trafficking.
  • Strengthening the armed forces in preparation for immediate intervention in the event of terrorism.
  • Calling a referendum in the first 90 days of government to introduce state measures to counter, among other things, the threat of terrorism.
  • Improving the judicial system enabling it to fight and prevent cybercrime.
  • Introducing strict regulations to protect personal data collected by institutions.
  • Militarizing ports and access roads.

Economic Policy

As a well-known Ecuadorian entrepreneur, Noboa is putting forward an economic programme that relies on tax breaks for corporations intended to encourage the founding of new companies, benefit existing corporations, stimulate “entrepreneurial spirit”, and thereby boost the country’s economy and create jobs.

Noboa distances himself from the current president, Lasso, who, as a former banker, aligned his policies with traditional finance capital. Noboa criticizes this policy and instead represents the interests of the export oligarchy, meaning productive capital.

Some highlights of the Noboa administration’s campaign programme focuses include:

  • Attracting direct foreign investments that “can provide capital, create jobs, facilitate the transfer of skills and technology, stimulate competition, and help diversify the economy”.
  • Strategic partnerships with private international companies to promote economic recovery.
  • Encouraging the founding of small and medium-sized companies by reducing bureaucratic hurdles, facilitating access to credit, and offering business management training and advice.
  • Protect the dollar as the national currency by strengthening fiscal discipline, increasing international reserves, promoting investment, and controlling inflation.
  • Establishing a state credit guarantee scheme.
  • Promoting competition in the banking sector and thereby lowering interest rates.
  • Supporting start-ups by providing facilities and incentives for young entrepreneurs. Introducing tax incentives for new companies, including tax exemptions or reductions for the first years of operation.

Access to Rights and Social Policies

Under Guillermo Lasso’s neoliberal government health, education, social security, and employment became problems for Ecuadorians.

Public hospitals can neither treat serious illnesses nor provide patients with medication. In the highlands, more than 38,000 students had not returned to school by September 2023. A woman was murdered every 23 hours and there were 53,000 underage or teen pregnancies in 2022. Only 34 percent of the working population has a formal job.

Social issues are rather scarce and covered only generally in Noboa’s campaign proposals. However, he does propose lifelong learning schemes, a better quality of education, and programmes for business initiatives.

For the health sector, the focus is on combating chronic malnutrition in childhood, improving primary health care, and supporting pregnant women. These proposals are contrary to what Verónica Abad has stated on many occasions.

Noboa’s depictions of women are also frequently questionable. He said at a rally that he would not give cash benefits or food stamps to pregnant women so as not to encourage pregnancies. He later amended this statement.

Two paragraphs of his campaign proposal deal with Ecuador’s Indigenous people and the “promotion of social and economic development” for them. The brevity of proposals regarding the Indigenous population makes sense considering the Noboa company is known to dispute Indigenous communities’ rights to coastal land and to displace them by force.

The campaign programme does not address workers’ rights, which is unsurprising given the numerous labour rights complaints of workers on the Noboa Group’s banana plantations.

Campaign literature does not mention the rights of women, girls, and young people. However, future Vice President Verónica Abad has addressed the issue by suggesting that femicides are a creation of feminist groups and that women should earn less because motherhood means they work less.

Daniel Noboa and the Environment

Although Daniel Noboa voted to stop oil extraction and processing in Yasuní National Park, his motives were economic and not environmental. He refuted the figures used by the oil processor and the current Lasso government, who argued that the state would lose 1.2 billion US dollars per year if oil production were stopped. Noboa calculated costs and investments from revenues, ending with a number similar to that produced by environmental groups, 148 million dollars per year in revenue lost to the state. According to Noboa, this amount of lost revenue is economically feasible.       

In general, however, Noboa plans on expanding oil production and large-scale mining.

Translated by Eve Richens and Anna Dinwoodie for Gegensatz Translation Collective.