FEATURE-State spending fuels Correa's re-election bid in Ecuador

Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:00am EST
 
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* Incumbent Correa clear favorite to win Feb. 17 election

* Millions won over with healthcare, education and roads

* New term may mean continued conflicts with investors

By Eduardo Garcia

ZUMBAHUA, Ecuador, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Once a forgotten cluster of mud houses amid windswept peaks, the Ecuadorean village of Zumbahua today boasts a state-of-the-art schoolhouse with large projection touch screens, Internet access in every classroom and lessons in three languages.

Indigenous Kichwa Indians who once stuffed savings under their mattresses now have a bank in town and a free Internet cafe - all paid for by the state.

The treacherous muddy road to the village is being widened and paved, and residents are particularly proud of their local school.

"Education has improved dramatically ... The students know how to work with computers better than kids from the city," headmaster Vicente Caiza said.

Zumbahua is one example of how Ecuadoreans from the Andes mountains to the Amazon jungle have benefited from heavy government spending that will almost certainly win socialist President Rafael Correa a new term in next month's presidential election.   Continued...