An Interview With Ecuadorean Presidential Candidate Guillermo Lasso

˙ Latin America Advisor

Businessman Guillermo Lasso, who for the third time is seeking Ecuador’s presidency, said last week during a visit to the United States that his main goals if elected in 2021 would include strengthening government institutions, boosting confidence in the economy and using new technologies in order to attract investment and create jobs. “The best social policy is one that creates jobs,” Lasso told the Latin America Advisor in an interview. “This is only possible if you create an ecosystem that allows for local investment, international investment and that generates jobs.”

But Lasso said bringing more investment into the country requires stronger state institutions. “It requires an independent justice system, it requires regulatory bodies that work well,” he said. “And it also requires an understanding that in a global world, international businesses require mechanisms and arbitration outside Ecuador.” Lasso, who unsuccessfully ran twice before for president—against then-President Rafael Correa in 2013 and against current President Lenín Moreno in 2017—blasted Correa for pulling Ecuador out of international investment treaties and withdrawing from investor dispute-resolution mechanisms.

Lasso added that if elected, he would also focus on digitizing many government services, allowing citizens to perform more tasks online, such as acquiring national identity cards, registering vehicles, obtaining birth certificates and applying for passports. In addition, Lasso said he wants to focus on modernizing the economy through the use of advancing technologies in order to create jobs. “Employment today is in a process of change with new technologies, with artificial intelligence, with robotics,” he said. “We have to understand how to customize all of this in Ecuador in order to achieve prosperity for all Ecuadoreans.”

In addition to visiting Washington, where he met with Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno and officials on Capitol Hill to discuss topics including economic and trade relations between the two countries, Lasso also visited Miami, where he met with officials of a technology incubator.

During a week when Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for a military uprising against President Nicolás Maduro’s government, Lasso lauded Guaidó, saying he has “great courage, great patriotism, great decisions” and is working to bring about change in Venezuela. Ecuador, the United States and dozens of other countries have recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s acting president. Lasso said he wants to see Ecuador join the Lima Group, the body of 14 Western Hemisphere nations that is calling for a peaceful exit to Venezuela’s crisis.