Daniel Noboa has been sworn in as Ecuador’s new president, promising to reduce violence and create jobs in the country gripped by a bloody drug war.
The 35-year-old heir to a banana business empire won a run-off vote in October on promises to restore security and boost employment in the South American country, which has faced economic challenges since the coronavirus pandemic, pushing thousands to migrate.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
He was sworn in on Thursday at a ceremony attended by Colombian President Gustavo Petro, after former President Guillermo Lasso called snap elections to avoid possible impeachment. He will serve only 18 months, the remainder of Lasso’s term.
“To fight violence we must fight unemployment; the country needs jobs and to create them I will send urgent reforms to the assembly,” Noboa said during his maiden speech in front of National Assembly lawmakers in Quito.
Once considered one of the safest countries in the region, Ecuador has seen violence explode in recent years driven by rival drug-trafficking groups. Bloodshed reached an unprecedented crescendo with the murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.
Drug violence has led to some 3,600 murders so far this year, reports the Ecuadorian Observatory of Organised Crime.
Noboa has said he will implement a state of emergency, suspend some citizen rights such as freedom of movement, and deploy the military to the streets.
During his campaign, he said he wanted to create offshore prisons on barges to isolate the most violent inmates.
Heir to banana fortune
Noboa was born in the port city of Guayaquil into his billionaire father Alvaro’s banana empire.
His father, who did not attend the ceremony, tried unsuccessfully to become president five times.
Noboa holds a degree in business administration from New York University and three master’s degrees, from Harvard, Northwestern and George Washington universities.
At the age of 18, he created his own events company before joining the Noboa family business.
Noboa’s newly formed National Democratic Action alliance won only 17 of 137 parliamentary seats in the October election.
On Friday, he allied himself with the leftist movement of former President Rafael Correa and the right-wing Social Christian Party, to have a majority when it came to making key political appointments.