Corruption has taken over the political agenda of several countries, large and small, in Latin America. From the Rio Grande down to the south of the continent, the last decades have been marked more by money than by principles. Presidents prosecuted, fugitives, arrested, serving sentences. And no end in sight, with some accusations being true, others not so much. That is why nobody is surprised by the disenchantment, in general, of citizens with politicians, and the overall loss of confidence in democracy.

In Ecuador, a new soap opera - or drama - has just begun. We do not know when it will end or how. In a multi-ethnic country, where more than 10 languages are spoken, with the US dollar as national currency and deeply divided between the jungle and the highlands (between "monos y serranos", as they identify themselves). With a little more than 250,000 square kilometers and almost 19 million inhabitants, it is similar in area and population to Romania.

As of late, President Guillermo Lasso, who will be in office for two years on May 24, has made use (for the first time ever) of a constitutional amendment introduced in 2008 by former president Rafael Correa. Correa, today a fugitive from justice, created this mechanism which allows Lasso to dissolve a Parliament controlled by the opposition which seeks to remove him from office, and call for general elections. It is what Ecuadorians have called the "crossed-death", due to the mutual annulment of the presidential and legislative power, since both must go to elections. And it could also be qualified as a sort of "presidential suicide", since the current opposition will probably keep the parliamentary majority, while the possibilities that Lasso could be re-elected if he were to run, are remote. Elections must be called within "a maximum term of seven days after the publication of the dissolution decree".

Then, the National Electoral Council will set the date for the legislative and presidential elections for the rest of the respective periods, "which must be held within a maximum term of ninety days after the call". Thus, since the presidential decree has not been challenged, Ecuadorians will elect a new Head of State before the end of this year. Doubts and questionings had arisen in the first hours in the interpretation of some articles of the Constitution, especially article 148, which states:

The President or President of the Republic may dissolve the National Assembly when, in his or her judgment, it has arrogated functions that are not constitutionally within its competence, prior favorable opinion of the Constitutional Court; or if it repeatedly and unjustifiably obstructs the execution of the National Development Plan, or due to serious political crisis and internal commotion.

For the opposition sectors, which are the majority in the Parliament, and also for some constitutionalists who disregard anything but the text of the Constitution, none of the two conditions indicated in Article 148 would be fulfilled. Also former President Correa has pointed out, from Belgium, that this was an "illegal measure" since there was no internal commotion, but rather a political trial. He took the opportunity to rally his unconditional supporters, estimated at around 20% of the electoral mass, to point out that it was necessary to take advantage of the opportunity to "send Lasso and his parliamentarians home".

In only 11 years, between 1996 and 2007, Ecuador has had seven presidents of the republic. Therefore, former President Rafael Correa, who had managed to grant stability to the country over two constitutional periods (2007-2017), modified the Constitution that had come into force in 2008. By introducing this escape valve, he prevented the military from knocking on the door of the presidential palace in the face of social mobilizations, strikes and street violence that characterized part of the twentieth century.

Ecuador, the country located in the "middle of the world", was home to leaders and caudillos such as General Eloy Alfaro, twice president and father of the liberal revolution, who inspired the guerrilla movement of the 80's, "Alfaro Vive, carajo". And to José María Velasco Ibarra, famous for his oratorial skills, who was elected no less than five times with his famous phrase "Give me a balcony in every city, and I will be President again". Ecuador has also been a pioneer in indigenist matters, with the classic novel "Huasipungo", by Jorge Icaza published in the 30's, which shook the conscience of Latin America; as well as home to the famous paintings of master Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919-1999). Relations with its southern neighbor, Peru, have not been easy for Ecuador: they fought the last war in South America - the “Condor War” - between January and February 1995, with around 500 dead and where, as in Magical Realism, both countries declared themselves victors.

This is the first time since the current Constitution came into force, that the mechanism of dissolution of the legislative and presidential power is used. President Lasso will govern for the next six months by decree, without opposition, while the Constitutional Court will be his overseer that will be able to approve or reject the projects of the executive until the new Parliament takes office. It is expected to function as a counterweight to the immense power with which the current president will be able to govern. We will witness a political and legal exercise that has rarely been seen in Latin America. Ecuador will put its constitutional and political strengths to the test. Meanwhile, public opinion observes the preparations of those who feel the call to take the presidential sash, in which the members of former President Correa's party, “Revolución Ciudadana”, today appear to have the best chances of winning.

The political picture has changed dramatically in recent years. In last February's elections to renew mayors and regional prefectures, President Lasso's government suffered a quantitative and symbolic defeat by losing the cities of Quito and Guayaquil, among many others. His party, CREO (Creando Oportunidades) which in 2019 still controlled 32 mayorships, reduced them to 10. The Social Christian Party, mainly businesspeople, which for 30 years had won in the largest city of the country, Guayaquil, was also defeated by Revolución Ciudadana. Surely, former President Rafael Correa, from distant Europe, follows events minute by minute and with the hope of victory for his party. But he has no possibility. At least for now, since it means returning to the political arena due to the eight-year sentence that weighs on him for corruption and bribery during the years of his presidency.