Ecuador’s Increase in Social Spending Has Lifted Many out of Poverty

Ecuador’s social spending for the past four years, since President Rafael Correa took office, has almost tripled compared to the amount spent by his predecessors. Prensa Latina reports: “Since President Correa took office four years ago, 15.851 billion USD has been invested in public works, 2.9 times more than during the three previous governments combined.” ((Prensa Latina News Agency “Ecuador Quadruples Social Spending,” 2 June 2011.))

An important aspect of President Correa’s policies has been a noticeable and ongoing reduction in poverty. In 2009, 38.3 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, in 2010 it was 35.1 and now in 2011 it is at 33.1 while the percentage in poverty is expected to continue declining. Furthermore, public investment has been on the rise from 2.4 billion in 2007, 3.450 billion in 2008, 5.66 billion in 2009 and 5.331 billion in 2010. In 2001, 50% of the GDP earnings were used to pay Ecuador’s foreign debt. Yet today the Correa government pays 15% of the GDP to the foreign debt with the majority of the rest of the balance going to investments in public and social work projects for the common good.

Similar pro-people programs are now instituted in Venezuela by President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, Bolivia by President Evo Morales, Brazil’s new President Dilma Rouseff, and, perhaps, by Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez and Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica. A possible addition to Latin America’s leftist Presidents is Peru’s Ollanta Humala if he wins the upcoming June 5th election and who seemingly supports a similar program for his country’s people.

In relation to these leaders’ plans to uplift their countries’ citizenry, one wonders that programs cannot be made universally available. Surely they are needed in many nations in addition to the ones in which they are currently operative. Especially the United States and other nations struggling with increasing poverty amongst their citizens could benefit from developing such programs.

In any case, any government ought to be based on humanism and be fundamentally humanistic in nature regardless of whether it is a democratic, socialist, communist or other sort. Moreover, political organizations or movements that are not or have moved away from primarily serving their lands’ populaces will lose any sort of legitimacy that they may or may not have previously had.

Among those that have little legitimacy and are not truly left would include The Shining Path, FARC — the Columbian guerrilla movement, and the North Korean government. Surely, we can add some centrist, neoconservative and neoliberal counterparts into the mix of those political groups that are losing their sense of legitimacy. And surely this would indicate that governments that do not well serve their constituents’ needs gradually lose their sense of authority and popular support, as we presently see occurring in the U.S.

Brian McAfee lives in Michigan and can be reached at: Read other articles by Brian.