Ecuador's re-elected Correa vows media and land reforms

Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:14pm EST
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By Eduardo Garcia and Brian Ellsworth

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa vowed on Monday to press ahead with laws to control the media and redistribute land to the poor as he looks to deepen his socialist revolution after a resounding re-election victory.

Correa, a pugnacious 49-year-old economist, trounced his nearest rival by more than 30 percentage points on Sunday to win a new four-year term. He has already been in power for six years, winning broad support with ambitious social spending programs.

His re-election triumph could set him up to become Latin America's most outspoken critic of Washington as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is struggling to overcome cancer.

But Correa will have to balance his desire for an agenda similar to Chavez's radical socialism with a need for pragmatic negotiations with foreign investors to raise Ecuador's oil production and spur the mining industry.

He focused on his socialist reforms on Monday, saying he'd push through legislation that has been blocked by opposition leaders in Congress.

"The first thing we'll do is to push through key laws that have been left to wither as a way of hurting Correa, but this has actually hurt the country," Correa said in an interview with regional television network Telesur.

Those include a proposed land redistribution drive to give terrain deemed unproductive to poor peasants and setting up a showdown with large banana and flower producers, much the way Chavez took on Venezuelan ranchers during a decade-long land expropriation campaign.

Correa's plan to create a state watchdog group to determine if media have published inappropriate content also echoes Chavez's controls over television and cable broadcasters, and would extend Correa's vitriolic fight with opposition media.   Continued...

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa reacts after hearing the election results at Carondelet Palace in Quito February 17, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Granja