Last Saturday night, the Ecuadorian electoral council announced Lenin Moreno as the winner of Ecuador’s election. Moreno is the candidate from the party Alianza Pais, whose founder Rafael Correa is an ally of Nicolas Maduro.

The victory is for a minimum margin of 51 % to 49%. The opposition demanded a recount, although it is not clear if any fraud was detected. Guillermo Lasso, the candidate of the opposition, spoke about 800,000 votes in doubt. As I am writing these lines, it is not clear if demonstrators would take the streets.

Mr. Moreno in his campaign promised to reconcile a divided country by avoiding the confrontational style that characterized Mr. Correa’s tenure, which began in 2007. Moreno promised to listen to criticism and open a dialogue with all the sectors. Thus, it is imperative that the Organization of American States (OAS) holds him to his promises. This is why it is crucial the OAS continues the pressure on all those counties that repress the press or incarcerate opponents. Correa’s assault on the press, judiciary, and the OAS human rights commission became notorious.

The departure of Correa could be a positive sign given his authoritarian and intolerant personality. Correa’s legacy is negative. He expelled the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); it made Ecuador into “major transit country” for transnational organizations, established relations with FARC, and allegedly received funds from the group. After the death of Hugo Chavez, Correa seemed to aspire to take regional leadership of the revolutions across the continent. Thus, he strengthened relations with Iran.

It is crucial that the OAS uses its pressure on Venezuela as a warning for countries, such as Ecuador, to restore constitutional and democratic rule.

The United States, on its part, must place a separate demand that Ecuador normalize itself by restoring the presence of the DEA in the country, crack down on drug cartels, and stop relations with Iran.

Interestingly enough, this past week Nicaragua, another ally of Mr. Maduro renewed diplomatic relations with Israel after seven years.

Last year, the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) was introduced in Congress that opposes loans at international financial institutions for the Government of Nicaragua, unless it, amongst other things, takes effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections.

Likewise, several months ago Nicaragua opened a dialogue with the OAS over the nature of elections in Nicaragua and how to improve it. This shows that Daniel Ortega is worried about his international stand. Although Ortega is a thug, he has something to lose and is therefore vulnerable to pressure.

It is Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, a former Nicaraguan foreign Minister, which seems to explain Nicaragua’s motives. He pointed out:

“Nicaragua’s closeness with Cuba, Russia, and Iran could damage our country in the Trump era. To this, we need to add our closeness with North Korea, which altogether can obviously complicate our situation… We are afraid that the hawks of the cold war could take positions in the Trump Administration and may apply not Obama’s “soft power” but a hard line. They all remember Daniel (Ortega) and this may be dangerous to his government … They all accuse the commander of being pro-Iran, pro-Russia, pro-North Korea, and anti-Israel.”

He recommends that Ortega take note of all this and proceed accordingly.

This shows not only that international pressure works but also how important is for the U.S government to project the right image. The U.S needs to take full advantage of this and make sure that the efforts to reduce the power of rogue states in the region are not compromised.

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