Ecuador leader's brother urges tolerance
QUITO (Reuters) - The brother and opponent of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa appealed for a tolerant attitude rather than a hard line against political foes after the government's apparent comfortable victory in a referendum.
Correa already has been cast as an autocrat by opponents after four years as president but Saturday's vote looked set to endorse 10 reforms giving the executive greater control over the judiciary and media.
"They didn't thrash us as they said, by four to one," older brother Fabricio Correa told Reuters. "The goal was always to tell the president 'You have to be tolerant, you have to listen ... to those of us who think differently.'"
Initial results showed the president ahead in all of the referendum's questions by between 51 and 57 percent.
"It's indisputable he won," Fabricio said.
Previously close political allies, the brothers parted ways in 2009 when Fabricio was fingered in corruption accusations involving state contracts.
They may now run against each other in a presidential election due for 2013 in the Andean OPEC member nation. But Fabricio said it was important to bring politics back from its polarized state.
"We're not your enemy. We love you, even though you insult us," he said of his brother.
Despite such words, Correa's opponents, including Fabricio, portrayed the referendum during the campaign as a crude ruse by the president to win more power for the executive.
A wealthy businessman, Fabricio won media prominence during the campaign with a video dubbed "This time no, bro'."
"Now that you're president, you control the field, you control the ball. It wouldn't be good if you controlled the judges. You ought to play clean," he said in the video, wearing a soccer goalkeeper's outfit.
Like his ally Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, Correa is a fervent critic of U.S. "imperialism" and tries to maximize state revenues from energy and mineral resources to boost social projects. That has helped keep Correa popular.
"We don't deny that Rafael has made some right moves regarding social spending," Fabricio said. "But there's a lot of corruption and inefficiency."