On Wednesday September 5th 2012, the social leader and presidential candidate, Álvaro Noboa, provided an interview – which was hosted by Julio Juan Romero – where he talked about different topics such as the political persecution that he is suffering, the PRIAN signatures that were given to the CNE, and his desire to transform the Ecuador into a first world country when he gets to be the president.
We invite you to hear the interview here:
Julio Juan Romero: A very good morning to the listeners of Radio Cristal, may you be welcome. This is your section, because we are going to share moments with Álvaro Noboa, who is sharing together with us listeners in Radio Cristal on a national level on this day, and to whom we are going to say, Good Morning, Counselor. How are you?
Álvaro Noboa: I’m very well, I am in the United States. Every month I travel to Europe and different countries in Latin American and the United States on business. This is just one more trip of those I make monthly. I am content, healthy, but very pained by all the problems that Ecuador is going through, and well, in the international media, it has a very bad image.
Julio Juan Romero: Mr. Attorney, as we have already found out what happened this weekend, we have seen what the sentence of the President of the Republic was, that you are out of the country, that one of your issues is with the Director of the Internal Revenue Service, Carlos Marx Carrasco. That’s the issue that concerns us, and that worry many Ecuadorians, because it means their jobs, their income, and the rest. The Bananera Noboa case and the mess with the Internal Revenue Service, that has become a very personal issue, Mr. Álvaro Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: This case can be summed up in two words: it’s political persecution. It’s very simple to see the numbers. In the year 2005, they collected $780,000 dollars in income taxes from Dole; they collected $35,000 from Chiquita, one of the biggest multinationals in the world; from Del Monte, they collected approximately $14,000; and from Exportadora Bananera Noboa, they want to collect $49 million dollars, plus fines and interest.
Julio Juan Romero: But, Mr. Attorney, Álvaro Noboa, it seems to me that this is an issue that’s come up from years ago, and obviously it’s a concern of many who have issues with the Internal Revenue Service. But in your case, it’s become personal. Obviously it’s a kind of political persecution, as you say, because there are a lot of people, many millions that are evading the IRS, but you? You say that you don’t owe anything, that everything’s fine. Why this problem, Mr. Álvaro Noboa?
Álvaro Noboa: What should be very apparent to you, is, just like from Dole, which is a bigger exporter than Bananera Noboa they collected approximately $780,000 and from us, $49 million plus fines and interest. Why do they collect $35,000 from Chiquita, and from us, for the same year, $49 million plus fines and interest that reaches almost $98 million, being an exporter that exports to the same markets, that buys the fruit at the same price, that sells more or less at the same price. It’s absurd! Or, they’re not measuring with Exportadora Bananera Noboa with the same yardstick they’re using for the other exporters, and no exporting company has paid more than a million dollars or two million dollars in taxes on income in the history of Ecuador.
All of a sudden, they show up with a number that borders, with fines and interest, on $100,000,000. Obviously, that’s a way by which Rafael Correa wants to intimidate me so that I don’t run for President and beat him like I beat him in 2006 in the first electoral round. If you will remember that in 2006 he even brought out a song, “Only One Round”, saying that he was going to beat me and all his challengers in just one round. The pollsters put me at fifth and sixth. In the last days, they put Rafael Correa in first; Leon Roldós, second; Gilmar Gutiérrez, third, Cinthia Viteri, fourth; and fifth or sixth, Álvaro Noba. Even 15 days before the election, and suddenly one day Santiago Nieto, the pollster, calls me, as I was in the closing convoy in the year 2006, and he says to me, “Álvaro, I’ve got good news for you. You’ve made a comeback from fifth or sixth to take first place, and Rafael Correa is no longer going to win in only one round, but rather he’s going to end up second.”
That political fear that Economist Rafael Correa has, is shared by his second-, third-, and fourth-category subalterns, because Economist Carlos Marx is something like fourth-category. First comes the President, then the Minister, after that the Subsecretary and then a Departmental Head, who is Economist Carlos Marx Carrasco. He’s terrified. They’ve been very abusive. The people have their eyes on them and they are very afraid.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, according to the information we have, a case has been brought against the judge who has postponed this case between Bananera Noboa and the IRS a little more. They’ve brought a case against him, obviously so that he abandon his role, Counselor Álvaro Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: Well, that shows once more that the IRS is like a Gestapo. It’s like World War II. The Gestapo were the castigating arm of the dictator, Adolf Hitler. Here, well the IRS it seems is a great power that meddles in the Courts. It judges, threatens and wants to see if it can bring the Court to its knees, but this time the judges have reclaimed their autonomy, and have acted in accordance with justice.
Julio Juan Romero: Mr. Counselor, Álvaro Noboa, let’s go to another topic, and it’s one that has excited the country a lot. The one pertaining to – like the story of the chicken and the egg – it’s about the signatures that have come out left and right, and no, he didn’t sign, yes, you did sign, you appear hear, you appear there, and the Alianza País Movement, appeared with more than 700,000 falsified signatures and here nothing happened and it’s all in a he said, she said in the National Electoral Counsel, Attorney Álvaro Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: Look, just so you have a good laugh: they put me down as an Alianza País affiliate. I had to go and register a denunciation with the authorities, “disaffiliate” myself from Alianza País, because, what was the strategy? The strategy was that when I would register my candidacy with the PRIAN, they would tell me, “Sir, it’s too late. You are registered as an Alianza País affiliate, and therefore we can’t register your candidacy.”
That was the trick, but the trick didn’t work, because not only were there problems with me, there were problems throughout the entire country in that sense. But most important of all, it’s that the law is not retroactive, and the moment in which the seven parties or eight parties, including the PRIAN which – without question – had the most signatures, register, if they commit a mistake or don’t commit a mistake, I don’t know, but once they finalize the registration, it’s not reversible.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, we are going to continue with this issue of the signatures, but you are not afraid that, together with your party, the PRIAN, the same thing will happen that happed to the MPD, that from one moment to the next, they didn’t have enough signatures.
Álvaro Noboa: We submitted 185,000 valid signatures in the first round where they registered us as the second-ranking party. And after almost a month, we submitted another 180,000 additional signatures. That is to say, we would have to have the whole 185,000 be bad, and we would have to have the other 185,000 additional ones be bad as well. That would be something for Ripley, it would be for Ripley.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor, let’s go to an issue that concerns us as well, and we don’t know where it’s ended up, that of the National Electoral Counsel. But we’re moving ahead within this interview. You think of a new Ecuador. You would like a new Ecuador and, personally, I like the phrase that you have, Counselor Álvaro Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: Look, a new Ecuador would be to transform a poor third world country into a first world country. In that first world country all Ecuadorians would have a cement house, they would have a car, they would have healthcare, they would have security, they would have a good social security system, their neighborhoods would be well protected, because the poor neighborhoods are the one that run the risks in regards to security; there wouldn’t be corruption.
When you ask the Ecuadorian people, “What is your main problem?” They say employment; they say economic problems, they say corruption, and it has become public knowledge for Ecuadorians that this is a corrupt government that has crushed all the freedoms, that has taken the Courts. In one way or another, it has influenced or intimidated the Courts just like that fourth-ranking individual, Carlos Marx, feels himself empowered to go around threatening judges and to go around intimidating them, they have tried to close newspapers like El Universo, like they have Mr. Palacios, a journalist, in political exile in the United States, like automatically withdrawing State advertising from the radio or newspaper that doesn’t fall in line with the government. That isn’t Correa’s advertising, it’s the State’s advertising, and the people are the owners of the State. Therefore withdrawing money from such and such radio, or such and such television, is not a private privilege of Economist Rafael Correa, but rather of the Ecuadorian people and to me it seem very bad to use this weapon in order to intimidate the press.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, we know that in Ecuador we are experiencing critical moments in all aspects. We are experiencing critical moments in the area of production. One experiences an Ecuador in which the prices are rising. One goes to the supermarkets, one goes to the markets, the prices have risen. For example, I went, together with my wife, with $70 to buy supplies for my small house, and now I find that I have to spend $120 a week on the few things that we consume to provide for a small household of 2 people. Imagine it! The people are in need, the people are full of insecurity. What can we do, Counselor Noboa?
Álvaro Noboa: Well, I have proposed a complete transformation of Ecuador to bring Ecuador from the third world to the first world, so that there is food, that there is security, so that Ecuadorians have enough to pay for provisions, so that there is education, so that there is healthcare, so that there is economic wellbeing, so that there are houses, cars, all of that. We have to go through a complete political and economic change, a change of the kind that took place in China. Remember that Allende was also in the hands of the socialists and the communists, that Chile was also in the hands of Allende who was a socialist and a communist, like Correa and that there was a complete change in Chile. That China was also a communist country, but there’s been a complete change in China. The same thing happened in Singapore. The same happened in Japan much earlier. They all moved ahead because they adopted very valid economic rules that effectively make the entire population more wealthy. Those economic rules I will give one by one because they are known throughout the whole world by any economist, and I – although I am a lawyer – have become passionate about economics and I have studied a lot. So, the first rule is to make friends with national and foreign investors, offer them certain benefits, like a reduction in taxes on income, like judicial due process, so that they feel secure. So if someone wants to expropriate them, they can go to before a judge to defend themselves; if they feel like someone is extorting them, they can go before a judge to defend themselves. That man wants the rules of the game to be clear. That man want there to be support on behalf of the State and not hatred. That man also doesn’t want there to be a class war, he doesn’t want his worker to be his enemy and he doesn’t want to be the enemy of the worker, but rather that both of them become more wealthy.
Julio Juan Romero: Attorney Noboa, when you are President, how would you change things in Ecuador? How to break away from those parameters. One is President, and is President, but not owner of the Judicial office, not owner of the Assembly, not owner of the different functions of State, that should be independent, Counselor Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: Fine, in the actual government, Economist Correa is owner of the Judicial Office, he is owner of the National Electoral Counsel, he is owner of part of the press, and he uses the State’s money in order to ceaselessly promote himself. I’m not saying this, because there is not title of ownership to the court. There is no title of ownership of the press. But Economist Correa manages to wield power very well in order to have everyone on their knees, or all those he can.
I have said that I prefer to die standing than to die on my knees. I prefer to die fighting, than to fight cowering on my knees, if one were to give up on this struggle for freedom, for the economic wellbeing of the people, for a better democracy, for the end of corruption.
So, I was explaining that the first thing is to provide the necessary conditions to businessmen so that they come to the country. The second is education. Education. Our people need to raise their educational level via two bridges: the technical schools and the universities. If we are a banana producing country, we should have the best school for banana production in Ecuador; if we are a shrimp-producing country, we should have the best school for shrimp production in Ecuador; if we are a mining country, we should have the best school for mining and petroleum in the whole world, not only Ecuador.
Therefore it’s very important to raise the level of knowledge of Ecuadorians, so that they can work in the most efficient manner and in working in the most efficient manner, they are going to have greater productivity, and in having greater productivity, they will have better incomes, and in having better incomes, they will be able to buy a car, to buy a house, to pay for better education, healthcare, etc. Also, knowledge comes from cutting edge technology that a new investor can bring, whether its Ecuadorian or foreign, to Ecuador. If you seen that in the world, this very day in Mexico, I saw the President of Mexico, with great pride, because I was invited to a forum in Colombia where one of the speakers was the President of Mexico, and he said that the Blackberry Telephone that you know and that all Ecuadorians know, that half or more than half of the cost of the Blackberry went to Mexican labor. They are specialized workers that have been able to attract Blackberry to Mexico in order to put them together and the produce many of the Blackberry’s pieces there. That level of knowledge that that Mexican worker, who not only knows how to do one small job, but rather the sophisticated work that is cellular technology, demands a better salary, a better wage for that citizen, and that worker can buy a car, a house, etc, etc.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, one very interesting question. You speak to us about growth and much more. But how has Álvaro Noboa grown in these years? We’ve seen him, we’ve followed him, we’ve seen your growth, we’ve seen your difficulties, we’ve seen your problems, but with a new facet, a new desire to serve Ecuador. But why this new desire, Counselor Álvaro Noboa?
Álvaro Noboa: Because poverty continues in Ecuador. In ’98 I won the Presidency and my goal was to eradicate poverty. Fourteen years have passed and Jamil Mahuad came who robbed me of the Presidency and destroyed the economy of Ecuador. By the year 2000-2001, it was already destroyed. Then came Vice-President Gustavo Noboa, then came Lucio Gutiérrez, then Lucio Gutiérrez fell apparently because of the arrival of Bucarám, and then President Palacios, who was a good President, but he had little time to work, and there came the disaster. Who is the disaster. Economist Correa. So the disaster that coincided with the largest income for the country from petroleum, but that large quantity of money that came to the country has been diluted in public works.
You don’t seen more factories, you don’t see something more sophisticated. You don’t see better agricultural watering systems. You don’t see a bigger fishing fleet in all of Ecuador. What it does do is that a million Ecuadorians, perhaps more, receive a voucher and in that way they are kept in absolute poverty and under psychological control that if you don’t vote for me, I’ll take away the voucher. So the country remains the same, or worse, than before. You just said, perhaps salaries have doubled or tripled in the last years, but the cost for the same items that you spent $100 on before, now take $300. So what does it help that they triple your salary? That is because of Ecuador’s inflation.
In one conversation that I had with Economist Carlos Marx, I said that all the taxes that he was imposing were to generate public spending, not a growth in the infrastructure of the country. They were going to generate inflation. I took the control from him and I had to tell him that he was just some nobody off the street, a little man off the street, because he doesn’t have anything of an economist about him, and with respect to the little man on the street, he wasn’t greater than nor less than, just one more for his lack of knowledge. What has all that amount of taxes brought? Inflation. What does the businessman do? The businessman, the industrialist, when they put all those charges on him? He raises the price of the product and passes it on to the end consumer, who ends up wiped out in that an apple costs three times as much compared to five or six years ago, when Economist Correa came into power, and more impoverished than before.
The people complain to me all the time. Counselor Noboa, we’re not only unemployed, there aren’t just economic problems in the country, there is corruption. Stop the corruption, and that’s going to be my mission, it’s going to be to stop the corruption, to restore a good economy to the country, that will transform Ecuador into a first world country, where all Ecuadorians – I affirm myself in this principle – can have a cement house, can have a car, can have a good education, can have healthcare, can have social security. AND I KNOW HOW TO DO IT.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, you spoke of a very delicate issue at this moment in our Ecuador and that is corruption. Corruption has not varied in this country. Corruption continue and continues in the current government, despite them saying that they combat corruptions right and left, but the cases, those that have taken State money, continue to be there. What can we do, Counselor Noboa, when you are President?
Álvaro Noboa: Show me the company you keep, and I’ll tell you who you are. If you meet with criminals, you are going to have a government of criminals. So I hope to form a government of clean middle class people, middle class Ecuadorians. Those who studied agricultural engineering, civil engineering, journalism, that serious man, the only thing he has to defend is his knowledge and his honesty, and I have work all my life with that social class together with the working class and those people have always given me good results.
You ask me, how has it gone over the years? It’s gone very well, but it’s not just depended on me. It’s depended on the help of God and it’s depended on an infinite number of Ecuadorians. I have worked with the best people possible in Ecuador and there are very good people. And those are the people you have to invite to work in government, without looking at first and last names, simply looking at their résumé, and looking at the technical and profession qualities that they have.
But if you fill it with criminals, then the problems stems from there. One of the Economist Correa’s allies is the FARC. They are international terrorists. One of Economist Correa’s allies are countries disqualified by the world over. Unfortunately they have disqualified the leaders of Venezuela, the leaders of Iran, and it ends up that those are Economist Correa’s best friends. They disqualify every criminal in every part of the world, and Economist Correa becomes their friend. So that’s a terrible thing. People throughout the world stop me, “Oh, your country is the one that’s full of criminals and in the street they kill, they steal, they rape, they do everything! And that is very bad. Look express kidnappings are something very common. What a tragedy it is for those Ecuadorians families whose wives or daughters are violated during an express kidnapping. They are robbed, they are badly treated, there are assaults, there are murders, there is everything. Just grab a copy of Extra newspaper, listen to Radio Cristal in the morning, and you’ll be scared to death to see the level of crime in Ecuador. Extra newspaper shows it on the front page, and Radio Cristal, since it is their obligation, tells all of Ecuador what happens here and I think that you, as a journalist, will have been able to realize that crime has skyrocketed in Ecuador. It wasn’t a country of traffickers before. Now, well, in the newspapers you see all the time that they carry out raids, where there are incredible amounts of drugs. Prostitution has increased. All kinds of crime keep on increasing here in Ecuador.
The people have had enough. They don’t want to know any more about those crimes. They want Álvaro Noboa, the brave man, the upright man, to change the country in this aspect of corruption and crime, as well. And so I will!
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, you have touched on a very complicated issue, one that if someone in another country touches upon it, they end up dead, like for example in Mexico, in Colombia: the issue of the narco-economy, or what is drug trafficking. Ecuador, like you and I know, we’re more or less the same age, Counselor. I am 42 and you’ve got a few more years, but we’re talking of an Ecuador where this narco-economy wasn’t an issue. There wasn’t much drug trafficking, except in very well-known sectors, but with the time, many have told me, but it is a continuing problem, and not one that has increased in Ecuador. We’re not a distributing country; we’re not a country that grows the drugs, except in certain other exceptions in which plants have been discovered. It has become a conduit country; it’s become a country that trafficks, it has become a country where the narco-economy has increased, and many say, but no, this is an age old problem. I say no. It’s gone up because we didn’t see those cases in our Ecuador, Counselor Álvaro Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: Look, in effect, it’s very painful to admit that Ecuador has become a country not only for trafficking drugs, but there are also a great number of traffickers. They say that it’s become the capital, the tourist center of the traffickers.
But all of that comes to an end seeing the polls that I have from 10 days ago. The latest polls, in which Rafael Correa falls from the 80% that he had in the Assembly of Montecristi to 36%; I am in second with 21%, and that’s without having governed before and I’ve maintained a good level, while the rest of the partidocracy to which I don’t belong, because I’ve never governed, has gone down. The very same Guillermo Lasso who made an attempt to make himself known, according to the polls is at 3%; Lucio Gutiérrez is at 2%; Acosta, 2% and the rest, almost 40% still don’t know or don’t answer.
That “don’t know” or “don’t answer” is not going to vote for Correa, because they’ve known Correa for 6 years. If they don’t answer is because they’re not with Correa. That 40%, I hope, that the majority will go with the leader of the opposition against Correa, and on this very day, I am leading the opposition against Correa. But in the last 15 days, that’s when the election becomes defined. Even though it seems like we’re close, we’re still very far from election day and on the day of decision making those 40% are going to throw themselves in with Álvaro Noboa because Álvaro Noboa has kept his résumé clean; Álvaro Noboa has maintained the same mission and has even improved, because I have learned to communicate better, I feel much more relaxed when I speak in public, I can explain things better, the people see me as much more secure in myself, much more dynamic, much more solid. So these two years have done me a lot of good, and that majority is going to go towards Álvaro Noboa, leader of the opposition. Lasso is thinking of withdrawing soon, and if he doesn’t he’ll cut a terrible figure, because if you go to the poor neighborhoods and ask who is Guillermo Lasso, they won’t know him. It’s worse in the sierra, worse in the poorest areas of Ecuador. Lucio has wiped himself out. He’s been making mistake after mistake after mistake, the worst of which, the latest is that he’s become the hopeful of all the traitors of the parties. It’s enough that he’s got a Vicente Taiano or a Wladimir Vargas who betrayed the PRIAN, who receive him with open arms, Lucio. He believes that that looks good and it looks so bad that he’s reached a low of 2%. I’m very sorry for him because, personally, Lucio is my friend. I’ve told him personally, of the damage that he is doing to himself, but he’s done it and he keeps doing it and Vicente Taiano. Look who is his best friend. His best friend is Gutemberg Vera, who is Rafael Correa’s lawyer, so therefore what he’s done is by chance, let’s do some damage to the PRIAN and I’ll leave the PRIAN, let’s do some damage to Lucio and I’ll unite with Lucio. It’s strange, isn’t it? But one would have to ask Vicente himself.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, you have said some words with which we are going to continue asking, we will continue remembering, Álvaro Noboa. You have a foundation, and we remind Ecuadorians that you do that Foundation, or that you continue to do that Foundation, Counselor Álvaro Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: For 30 years our New Humanity Crusade Foundation, led by Dr. Annabella Azín and financed by the companies of the Grupo Noboa, have attended more than 1,500,000 people. Those people gather in the street and they thank me and they say, look, thanks to you my daughter is alive, thanks to you my son doesn’t have any more problems, thanks to you I have a wheelchair, thanks to you my school has a computer, thanks to you I have a micro-enterprise. All of that the Foundation has done.
In the area of art, I am the only Maecenas of Ecuadorian art, because with the Luis A. Noboa Naranjo Museum which honors my father, because in his name the museum was constructed, we periodically hold exhibitions of the best Ecuadorian artists. Artists that have been abandoned, I would say for centuries, because the best Ecuadorian art in the last five centuries has not been treated well, and so, like that. I would also like to say that I am the biggest employer in Ecuador.
I would also like to say, not like Correa who is bookish, I was the best student in my class. I graduated as the best in my class in high school and had years where I never lost one mark. I still have my report cards, which I am prepared to show Ecuador, where I got 850 out of 850 points, with all the subjects together, with 10 medals and not one point lost. I have a healthy, brilliant family, all of them the best students. My oldest son, Daniel Noboa, is already a businessman, my daughter Carla, who just finished university in New York, at Fordham, and her third language, French, in Paris; my son, Juan Sebastian who is studying Agricultural Business Administration in California, at the best university that is called UC Davis, and my son Santiago Noboa, who is a source of pride to me. He is one of the best in his class, if not the best, and already at 11, he speaks English, Spanish and a lot of German. All the rest speak German, English and Spanish, and Carla speaks French, English and Spanish. I have a wife who has stood above the rest in many senses. Three times she was an Assembly Member and member of Congress on her own right. If you will remember, she received the most votes in 2006, she was even congratulated by engineer Febres Cordero who he beat in the elections at that time. In the end, I have served my country, have served God and that for me is the most important thing, for my work and for the love that I have towards Ecuador.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, you and I have met at several places in Guayaquil at different points in our life, and we have conversed, obviously, Counselor Noboa. One question that is very interesting. If you become President, obviously we don’t know what will happen, but elections are upcoming for mayor of Guayaquil. Will your movement, your party launch their own candidate for mayor of Guayaquil, or will you support attorney Jaime Nebot Saadi?
Álvaro Noboa: I have voted for attorney Jaime Nebot Saadi in his elections for mayor. I have made my vote public, I admire his work, like I admire the work of Engineer León Febres Cordero as mayor of Guayaquil, even though he was against me when there was all that mess with Mahuad and the fraud against me. But all right. That doesn’t take away from his merit as a great mayor and having voted for Jaime Nebot on two or three occasions for mayor, I think that the PRIAN will put up a candidate for mayor in 2014 because attorney Nebot has already announced publicly that he doesn’t want to run any more for mayor. It caused us a lot of damage not putting up a candidate for mayor in the last elections, because since the people of Ecuador vote across the party, they voted for Madera de Guerrero and not for the PRIAN for Assembly Members and we didn’t have enough Assembly Members to have a good candidate for mayor. The next time, yes, will have a good candidate for mayor so to be able also to reinforce our party ticket, those of the Councilors and Directors and to have more strongholds and more hands to put to the task of ending poverty in Ecuador.
Julio Juan Romero: Attorney Álvaro Noboa, and if I put a question to you that goes far beyond what can happen, for example: if I, Julio Romero, were to be interested in running for mayor of Guayaquil and I don’t like the PRIAN, I like Madera de Guerrero, and I would like to run for mayor of Guayaquil. Would you do it?
Álvaro Noboa: Well, I already said, I voted for Madera de Guerrero twice, for Jaime Nebot for mayor when there were no candidates presented. The moment that a candidate is presented, what I would do is to ask Mr. Romero to be a PRIAN candidate.
Julio Juan Romero: Well, I am a-political, Counselor Álvaro Noboa, but let’s turn to more important issues, Counselor Noboa. Let’s go to an interesting topic, Alvarito. Because the call you Alvarito.
Álvaro Noboa: They use it as a term of endearment. There was a very loved man in Ecuador called Lorencito Tous, he lived to 85, but he was very affectionate. And when I was around 35, at 25, he began to tell people, my friends that worked with me, that they shouldn’t say Alvarito, that they should call me Álvaro because I was going to get older and people would be confused. Look there comes Alvarito, and they were going to think that a boy was coming and here came this old man and so he asked them to call me Álvaro and not Alvarito. So in formal meetings they say Álvaro, but the people, out of affection, call me Alvarito and as it comes with such affection, I just couldn’t bring myself to ever try to change the people’s way of expressing themselves.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, you tell me that you have changed, that you are rejuvenated. Obviously in physical form you have changed completely, but in a spiritual form, in your way of being, you say that you have taken on advice, you have accepted doing this and that. Are you prepared to accept a country like Ecuador? For example, we have debts with China right and left – who denies it – we have a debt to China. Because we have sold our petroleum, Ecuador has a very high level of inflation. Why? Because our country cannot support our internal costs anymore. We have banana which is more expensive than in New York. We have watermelon which is more expensive than in New York. We have a way of living that we can’t afford, those of us who live it daily and those of us who share with our families the difficult living. Counselor Álvaro Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: I feel very secure in myself and I am much more prepared to govern the country than Correa, than Mahuad, than Lucio Gutiérrez, than Guillermo Lasso, than Acosta or any other of my challengers. Of that, I have no doubt at all. Experience is not proved with words, experiences is proved in practice.
The bookish Rafael Correa, in practice, was a man who failed in regards to economics even though he is an economist. And I’ve had a lot of success in regard to economics, although I am a lawyer. So, in practice, I know about economy, I know about business, and I would like to remind you that in the only public post – twice I held a public post, once as an Assembly Member in Montecristi, and the other as President of the Financial Reserve in 1996 – and that was the time that the monetary reserve in Ecuador was at its highest point in the history of Ecuador. It was also the time that I lowered the interest rate that was very high. You will remember that the Banco de Progreso reached paying up to 100%, and at that time I lowered interest rates and strengthened the money and thus did a good job.
Answering your question, I am the best prepared of all of my challengers and I feel calmer in assuming the responsibility of transforming Ecuador from a third world country into a first world country, like Chile, like Spain, like the United States, in which all Ecuadorians will be able to have a cement house, a first-rate education, a car, good quality food, and at a cost that would be within reach of the Ecuadorian purse, a good social security, and neighborhood security, especially in those poor neighborhoods where there is the most crime, the most victims, more death and more problems.
Julio Juan Romero: Attorney Noboa, you speak very nicely but many people say that we attack him for some reason, for this, for the other. Why do they attack you, Counselor Noboa?
Álvaro Noboa: They attack me because politics is a fight for power and in that fight there are people who like the dirty fight. I don’t like the dirty fight and as they don’t have the imagination that I have to create businesses, to provide education, to provide healthcare, to provide wellbeing, to provide protection. If they have the imagination to be able to slander someone, to invent lie after lie, and on the basis of — Look at Economist Carlos Marx, who I repeat, the owner of the circus is called Correa, so really Correa should address me. Economist Correa has tried in all possible ways to discredit me with regard to taxes when I am the biggest personal taxpayer in the country. You can check with the IRS against other wealthy Ecuadorians. Like the Eljuri family, the Egas family, my own sister Isabel, whatever rich Ecuadorian that you know. I pay more than all of them and in Grupo Noboa, when you add together all the businesses of Grupo Noboa, they are among the groups that pay the most taxes in Ecuador. But on the basis of repeating the lie thousands of times, the people begin to believe it. So that the people begin to believe and there are people who also say that it’s a lie that I pay taxes. There are people who say that there are children working on my farms. I took a delegation from the American Embassy so that there would be neutral observation to see if they would find children working and they didn’t encounter one child working. They have accused me of sexually harassing a woman in brought a case against me in New York. It ended up that that woman – what the people forget is, that that occurred in November, and when we met with her lawyers, I showed them that she returned to the country with her daughters, on our invitation, the company’s, and nobody, if they’ve been harassed, makes a return visit to the country, nor makes a return visit to a company. What she wanted was to work and she got angry, she got mad because we didn’t give her work. So she didn’t come up with anything better than that accusation against me and it didn’t even make it to the courts. What else have I been accused of. Of everything imaginable, but they have all been lies because they have never been able to be proved. For that reason, I have never paid a fine, nor have I gone to jail for any crime, except under a dictatorship and that always happens.
In 1973, the military dictatorship sent me to prison to see if they could get my father, who was in New York, to return, and I was always in danger, and they had threatened me several time that they were going to impose sanctions against my leaving the country, and who knows what other evil they were planning all the time besides ruining my businesses. Because, simply because of Ecuador’s bad government administrators, I am a danger because I am the person who can most easily win the elections and to change this country, and to allow this country, finally to belong to the Ecuadorians, and, finally, that all of the riches that abound in Ecuador, can become cheap food for the people and of a good quality, that it can become cars for the people, that it can become cement houses, that it can become healthcare, education, in everything that the people want and, above all, the end of corruption, and the end of crime.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, we are arriving at the end of the interview, and I am going to ask you a burning question. You say that you can alleviate the problems of all Ecuadorians. Obviously you and I, our birthday is on the same day, November 21. Let’s ask a crucial question because we know that in Guayas, Guayaquil, we have more than three million inhabitants, it could put a President in office, it could also put a mayor in office. What do you think in the supposed case that I run for mayor for Madera de Guerrero, in that supposed circumstance, and you win the Presidency. What would you do with Guayaquil?
Álvaro Noboa: I would throw myself into helping Guayaquil, because once that one is leader, one is not leader of the PRIAN, on is the leader of all Ecuadorians.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, would you like Julio Romero to be a candidate for mayor of Guayaquil?
Álvaro Noboa: I already said that you could be a PRIAN pre-candidate, because it’s more than certain that my wife, Dr. Annabella, is going to head the list as Guayas Assembly Member.
Julio Juan Romero: So Annabella will continue with you in all the political machinery. Counselor Álvaro Noboa, my question is very crucial, corruption, justice, unemployment. What will you be like?
Álvaro Noboa: Show me the company you keep, and I’ll tell you who you are. Put people who, for the most part, are 25, 30, and 35 years old to govern the country, from the middle class and the working classes. Those people have a new vision of life, and well, I want to rule with the young. You are going to see that in my list of Assembly Members there won’t be people like Vicente Taiano or worn out figures, but rather people of 25 and 35 years of age. In regards to unemployment, I would attract investment to Ecuador, to develop Ecuadorian agriculture, to raise the technological level, better seeds, better methods, better technologies, better machinery, better watering systems, better drainage. We, as Grupo Noboa, are great agriculturalists, the biggest employers in the country and all the time we work to discover better methods of production.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, the million dollar question is the one we’ve been asking for many years. Ecuador has a President, but not a First Lady. When you become President, will we have a First Lady?
Álvaro Noboa: Well, Annabella would have to share herself between First Lady and Assembly Member, but when she wants something, she gets it and she is a great social worker and she likes it, she also loves the Ecuadorians as I do and so it’s sure she can do both things.
Julio Juan Romero: But I am referring to the question, Counselor, how does it seem to you that Ecuador doesn’t have a First Lady?
Álvaro Noboa: Well, I do have respect for the ladies and I believe that Rafael Correa’s wife is a great lady, that’s the only thing I can say, a great lady, a great mother, that’s the best thing that could happen to Economist Rafael Correa.
Julio Juan Romero: I like your answer, Counselor Álvaro Noboa. One final question before ending this interview. Would you follow, for example, the model of Manuela Espejo?
Álvaro Noboa: The model?
Julio Juan Romero: Yes, the model of Vice-President, Manuela Espejo.
Álvaro Noboa: I think the Vice-President has done a great job. I’ve even asked Economist Rafael Correa, so that it would be a democratic election, that he should resign, and leave the Vice-President in charge of the presidency, because I think that he is a man with a good profile as a humanitarian and a democratic man. I believe he is an intelligent man.
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, your final words in this interview for Radio Cristal of Guayaquil, and obviously my wishes that you achieve all that you have promised.
Álvaro Noboa: My final words for Ecuadorians is that we have to fight until the last moment, to never die on our knees, but to die standing up and fighting for there to be peace in Ecuador, that there be cement houses in Ecuador, that there be cars for every Ecuadorian, good alimentation at an affordable price, first world education, of the highest level, that there be healthcare, social security, and that there is an end to corruption and crime in Ecuador. Those are my wishes and I hope that on my tomb the write, “Álvaro Noboa fought all his life to transform Ecuador into a wealthy country for all Ecuadorians, not just for some.”
Julio Juan Romero: Counselor Álvaro Noboa, you say your tomb, but for example I’ve already got a plot in Parque de la Paz, and you, where are you thinking of being buried?
Álvaro Noboa: I also have purchased [a plot] in Parque de la Paz.
Julio Juan Romero: We’ll be neighbors, Counselor Álvaro Noboa. We’re not divided by this interview, nor by distance, nor by birth date. What do you want for your birthday, Counselor Álvaro Noboa?
Álvaro Noboa: Social Security, an end to the corruption and crime in the country, those are my desires, and I hope that in my tomb they write, “Álvaro Noboa fought all his life to create a rich country for all Ecuadorians, not just for a few.”
Julio Juan Romero: What do we want on our birthday, which is November 21?
Álvaro Noboa: With the years that I have, I want to spend some happy times with my family. That’s what I want form my birthday.
Julio Juan Romero: This has been an interview with Counselor Álvaro Noboa, an hour-long interview with the listeners of Radio Cristal of Guayaquil.