* Charismatic economist cruises to easy election win
* Correa seen extending state role in economy in new term
* Ecuador needs investments to diversify oil-based economy
By Eduardo Garcia and Brian Ellsworth
QUITO, Feb 18 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
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
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.
In addition, Ecuadoreans voted for a new Congress on Sunday
and Correa said he expected his ruling Alianza Pais to win a
majority. That would help speed his efforts to pass the proposed
But he is also expected to pass a new mining law that would
ease investment terms as a way of helping close a deal with
Canada's Kinross to develop a large gold reserve. That
will be a major test of his ability to offer investment security
while ensuring the state keeps a large portion of revenue.
The vice-president of Kinross in Ecuador, Dominic Channer,
said that "good progress" had been made in the negotiations.
"Kinross ... understands that the government plans to send
mining and tax reforms to the National Assembly. These reforms
should provide improvements to investor security and an improved
economic balance for mining projects," Channer told Reuters.
With almost three-fourths of votes counted by Monday
afternoon, Correa had 57 percent support compared with 23
percent for conservative candidate Guillermo Lasso.
The election established Lasso, a former banker from the
coastal city of Guayaquil, as the face of the opposition. Six
other candidates trailed way behind.
Lasso has called Correa a dangerous authoritarian who has
curbed media freedom and controlled state institutions.
Even some supporters disapprove of Correa's tempestuous
outbursts, fights with media and bullying of adversaries
His re-election puts him in line to be the de facto leader
of the leftist ALBA group of Latin American nations that push
state-driven economic policies and oppose free-market reforms
promoted by Washington.
Chavez made a surprise return to Venezuela on Monday after
two months of cancer treatment in Cuba, but his health is
delicate and it is unclear if he will be able to stay in power
and continue being the region's leftist standard bearer.
The continued success of Latin American socialism will
depend on strong commodities prices that underpin generous
social spending, and Correa needs foreign investment to ensure
state coffers remain full during his next four-year term.
Ecuador has been locked out of capital markets since a 2008
debt default on $3.2 billion in bonds, and Correa's government
has taken an aggressive stance with oil companies to squeeze
more revenue from their operations.
Correa's recent statements show that although he wants to
maintain many of his radical policies, he also wants to soften
his reputation as an anti-capitalist crusader within investing
"The advantages of our country for foreign investment are
political stability, a strong macroeconomic performance ... and
important stimulus to new private investment," he said last week
while hosting the emir of gas-rich Qatar.
Correa's government is also in talks with China to secure
funding for the $12.5 billion Pacifico refinery, which would
allow Ecuador to save up to $5 billion a year in fuel imports.
"We can't be beggars sitting on a sack of gold," is a catch
phrase Correa has used in recent months to argue that Ecuador
needs to attract oil investments and expand a mining industry
that has barely begun to tap its gold and copper reserves.