Ecuador’s presidential election is heading to a runoff between the ruling PAIS Alliance party candidate Lenin Moreno and the opposition right-wing candidate Guillermo Lasso, according to results released by National Electoral Council (CNE) on Thursday.
The following is an introduction to Lasso.
Former banker Lasso is making his second run for Ecuador’s presidency, presenting himself as the candidate of change in a country governed over the past 10 years by the same progressive party.
Born to a deeply conservative middle-class Catholic family in Guayaquil, in Guayas province, Lasso, 62, is the youngest of 11 children.
Drawn to the world of finance at a young age, Lasso obtained a part-time job at the stock market in Guayaquil when he was just 15, using the money to pay for part of his schooling and contribute to household expenses.
He went on to get a degree in Business Administration and at 29 was named executive president of Finansur, a credit and loan company that later merged with the Bank of Guayaquil, where he held various posts, finally becoming president of one of the country’s biggest banks.
At the bank, Lasso innovated the “Banco del Barrio,” or “Neighborhood Bank” concept, which won the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) beyondBanking award in 2010 for expanding access to banking.
Lasso then held several public posts, the most important being minister of economy under former President Jamil Mahuad (1998-2000), whose administration famously presided over the “dollarization” of the economy, which tanked, sparking rampant unemployment and inflation that led thousands of Ecuadorians to emigrate in search of work.
Mahuad was forced out of office, and in 2014 was tried in absentia on embezzlement charges and sentenced to 12 years in jail.
Lasso’s ties to Mahuad’s government are his main weakness. However, he is hoping that an electorate hungry for change will overlook that episode.
He has pledged to create a million jobs, spur national and foreign investment, and fight crime. Enditem