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Heir to banana trade fortune in Ecuador, Daniel Noboa, wins presidential runoff election

Daniel Noboa, an inexperienced politician and an heir to a fortune built on the banana trade, won Ecuador’s presidential runoff election Sunday held amid unprecedented violence that even claimed the life of a candidate.

With more than 97% of the votes counted, electoral officials said Noboa had 52.1%, compared to 47.9% for Luisa González, a leftist lawyer and ally of exiled former President Rafael Correa. González conceded defeat during a speech before supporters in which she also urged Noboa to fulfill his campaign promises.

Noboa, 35, will lead the South American country during a period that drug trafficking-related violence has left Ecuadorians wondering when, not if, they will be victims. Their uneasiness has prompted them to continuously watch their backs and limit how often they leave home.

After results showed him victorious, Noboa thanked Ecuadorians for believing in “a new political project, a young political project, an improbable political project.”

 

A large group of military and police officers as well as private security guards protected Noboa when he voted in Olón, a community on the country’s central Pacific coast. He wore a bulletproof vest.

González was unknown to most voters until the party of Correa, her mentor, picked her as its presidential candidate. She held various government jobs during Correa’s decade-long presidency and was a lawmaker from 2021 until May.

At the start of the campaign, she said Correa would be her adviser, but she recently sought to distance herself a bit in an effort to court voters who oppose the former president, who remains a major force in Ecuador despite being found guilty of corruption in 2020 and sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison. He has been living in his wife’s native Belgium since 2017.

Rosa Amaguaña, a 62-year-old fruit and vegetable vendor, said Sunday that safety “is the first thing that must be solved” by the next president.

“I’m hopeful the country will change,” Amaguaña said. “Yes, it can. The next president must be able to do even something small.”

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