In an interview carried out by Fernando Rincon of CNN, Alvaro Noboa declared himself as a political persecute by Correa’s government, in spite of his legal banning of leaving the country, he assured that he is staying in Miami for international businesses and that he will return to Ecuador to register his candidacy. “if they issue an arrest warrant I will go to an Embassy and request political asylum, as journalist Alfredo Palacios, from El Universo, did.”
“I have no impediment to be a presdential candidate”, he emphasized, “Bananera Noboa does not owe income taxes, on the contrary, in 2005 the company paid $ 400.000 and continues to until today.”
It has been proved, with numbers, that the SRI was collecting from Bananera, in 2005, two thousand times more than Chiquita, meaning 98 million dollars against 37.000. Journalist Rincon specified that the SRI was trying to collect more taxes than the actual profit, what Noboa thanked due to the fact that his company sold, that year, 220 million dollars and payed $ 400.000 for taxes corresponding to the 1 to 1,5% that the State charges. Chiquita sold a lot more in 2005 and they only paid $ 700.000 in taxes.
“I am the ecuadorian who pays more taxes and my only sin is defeating Correa back in 2006”.
Noboa said that his political party, PRIAN, is the biggest party in Ecuador with the largest amount of qualified signatures; also that the Left-wing and extreme Left-wing parties have joined forces against Correa. People’s resistance for Correa has grown and that’s why he is going to win in the second election round for being the candidate of the opposition.
“Correa wants to run against himself, as in the totalitarian countries like Cuba, he doesn’t want opponents and that’s why he wants to get rid off me”.
During the Popular Assembly, the raffle of a house, a car, an scholarship and a post in one of my companies, were a symbol of what I am going to do during my government, said Noboa. “As President, I won’t have to raffle anything , because the poor people of my country, those who earn 1 to 2 dollars a day, will become middle-class people. I will turn Ecuador into a first world country, like Chile, Brazil, Singapore and South Korea.”
Fernando del Rincón: Welcome! We are grateful for this interview with businessman and leader of the PRIAN, Álvaro Noboa, who is with us, live, from our studios in Miami.
Mr. Noboa, thank you for being with us.
Álvaro Noboa: Thank you very much to CNN, to all the viewers, and to you, the interviewers.
Fernando del Rincón: Thank you, Mr. Noboa. The first question I have to ask you: Are you or are you not a PRIAN candidate still? Because according to article 4 of the National Electoral Council (CNE), you would be disqualified because of this issue of tax payment. Are you, or are you not a PRIAN candidate still?
Álvaro Noboa: At the moment, no one is a candidate. We are all pre-candidates, because the official registration date is from October 15 to October 17. Until now, our party recently qualified as the party with the most affiliates in the country, together with Alianza País.
Gabriela Frías: Nevertheless, this regulation regarding the registration of candidates states that no one who has a judicial proceeding against them is allowed to take part, and for as long as this is the case, except in the case of insolvency or bankruptcy which has not been declared fraudulent. Just today, the President of the National Electoral Council stated that, in practical terms, your candidacy was at risk, he also stated that you have a debt with the CNE. What is he referring to?
Álvaro Noboa: I have no debt of any kind, and I would also like to say to the public that there would have been a sentence executed against me, and I have no sentence executed against me, because the subject in question is the company called Exportadora Bananera Noboa, of which I am not even a participant in the case.
Fernando del Rincón: So, then you are not part of the case. The number 4 is clear, and states that no one can take part if they have a judicial proceeding against them. It’s not talking about any sentence of any kind. That is to say, it is the specific case, like that of Bucarama, in which he, yes, he does have to comply with this requirement. But in your case, the number 4 is not necessary, what you are telling us, in order not to participate as a pre-candidate for the PRIAN.
Álvaro Noboa: Look, this very day, Economist Rafael Correa, and this is what I’ve come here to CNN to denounce, controls the National Electoral Council, he controls the Courts, according to the point of view of Ecuadorians, he controls part of the Press because he has nationalized part of the Press, the Assembly, therefore, coincidentally, my denunciation is that he, knowing that I am the most favorable challenger against him, because I won in the first electoral round of 2006, something that he never mentions, and that at that time he had, in the second round, allies that today are his enemies, MPD, Partido Pachakutik, Sociedad Patriótica, PRE, etc., etc. He knows that I, truly, am the person who can beat him in these elections, and therefore they’ve been pursuing this for almost 3 years, creating a means to get me out of these elections, and the Exportadora Bananera Noboa Company, in any way possible. For 2005, they want to collect $45,000,000, plus interest and fines. They declare it to be $99,000,000 dollars, when in the same fiscal year, they charged Dole $700,000, and Chiquita, $39,000, or that is to say, they want to charge Noboa 12,000 times more, and Dole is a company that exports more than Exportadora Bananera Noboa.
Gabriela Frías: Allow me, before making this comparison, to ask you directly: if it is that Bananera Noboa neglected to pay the $49,000,000 in taxes from 2005 and now that has become a debt of $98,000,000. Is that, or is that not so? Does your company, or does it not owe this to the Internal Revenue?
Álvaro Noboa: No, the company does not owe the Internal Revenue. It is in litigation. The total sales make up $120,000,000. The state usually imposes on future sales a tax of 1 or 1.5%. That I to say, then, a payment owed of $400,000 or $600,000 and something dollars, like Dole pays, like Chiquita pays, and us, at the time, as well, and they came up with an assessment of 100 times more.
Fernando del Rincón: Or, to be clear, for our international audience, Exportadora Bananera Noboa, in 2005 met its tax obligation; it paid the tax on revenue; it paid its taxes.
Álvaro Noboa: Exportadora Bananera Noboa paid all its taxes, not only those from 2005. It continues paying all of its taxes until this very day, and I would like to say that I, regarding my personal account, am the largest taxpayer in Ecuador, as Álvaro Noboa, and the Noboa Group, is the group of companies, among the top ten tax-paying groups of companies in Ecuador.
Fernando del Rincón: Of course. You are also the richest man in Ecuador.
Álvaro Noboa: That’s what the people say. Who knows who is the richest man in Ecuador. But what I can say is that as a personal taxpayer, I am the highest tax payer in Ecuador.
Gabriela Frías: You are a taxpayer without any debt and your company does not owe.
Álvaro Noboa: And also, therefore, I feel good paying those taxes. Thanks to those taxes, they build roads, schools, hospitals, in Ecuador. I also want to say that in regards to the judicial issue, any judge who, in one way or another, says that we are in the right, ends up in jail. That is the case with Judge Posligua, who, in the moment he granted us an appeal was imprisoned and remains in prison. That is the electoral environment which we are experiencing, and therefore I state that it is a completely invalid environment; absolutely invalid.
Fernando del Rincón: Allow me to ask you something, and it really draws my attention. There is already a restriction against you leaving the country, and yet you are already in Miami, having had already left the country. You knew something about this, and for that reason you left beforehand, or was it a coincidence that you were in Miami while they put this restriction in place?
Álvaro Noboa: Every month I leave the country because I am an international businessman and It happened that this time during this visit, that while I was out of the country, this occurred, and if you were to take a look at my passport, you would see that I leave the country every month.
Gabriela Frías: That means, in some way, that you will not try to go back afterwards, in that they’ve brought this process against you, requiring you, precisely because of this tax debt; you’re not going to return in the mean time to Ecuador.
Álvaro Noboa: The lawyers are trying to resolve this situation and, well, obviously if, they imprison Judge Posligua for a ruling… My returning to the country and being given a restriction against exiting: that’s a means to keep me prisoner within the country. My lawyers have recommended that I be cautious and to have patience, that they are going to resolve the problem, because it is completely illegal and in that way I have been harassed on more than one occasion by Economist Correa, my great sin is having beaten Economist Correa.
Fernando del Rincón: How is it being a candidate from abroad, like a satellite candidate, or pre-candidate from abroad? How do you intend to manage this if they don’t resolve the travel restriction, and you remain in the United States? Doesn’t it seem completely illogical to be a candidate, but outside of the country?
Álvaro Noboa: Let’s see, I have done so over the last three months; I’ve been a pre-candidate the last three months, and I have left the country the last three months, and when I’m in the country, I have held large political assemblies. The largest assembly to date with 12,000 people took place scarcely eight days ago.
Fernando del Rincón: Listen, and excuse the interruption, was that when you gave away a house, gave away a car, and maybe it was for that reason that there were so many people, is that the same one you are telling me about?
Álvaro Noboa: We raffled them. My aspiration for Ecuadorians is to transform them into a middle class country, like Chile, like South Korea. My great sin is to want the poor of Ecuador, who are in their millions and who earn between one and two dollars a day, for them to earn a thousand, two thousand, three thousand, and to have a high level college education. Therefore, in a symbolic manner, we gave away four things that they would have under my presidency: we raffled a house, a car, we raffled a job – a position with Grupo Noboa – and one university scholarship.
Gabriela Frías: Mr. Noboa, but doesn’t it seem a bit strange to draw supporters via raffles when I understand perfectly that those four elements, or products that you give away are, perfectly, the axes of your politics, that is to say, that was symbolic, we don’t see it, or are you alluding to the supporters in that type of campaign events?
Álvaro Noboa: Look, there are people from the Press that have seen us in that way. They are people from the Press, who don’t earn one or two dollars a day, nor are they in politics. I can tell you that the poor take a good view of it.
Fernando del Rincón: I am going to say something, my own personal opinion: it wouldn’t sit badly with me to have a house, no matter how small it was, and if they were to give it to me, equally so; and if you were to give it to me; a car, or if I were to earn it, it’s the same. If would seem wonderful to me, even if I just earn one or two dollars. So what you’re saying is that you refer to the needs of the people in order to convince them that you are the best option there is in this, and via these gifts for the people. Explain it to me, please.
Álvaro Noboa: Let’s not fool ourselves. In politics all the candidates do similar things. In my case, because I am famous as a moneyed man, a lot of people from the press put things in doubt. I’ll tell you a little story: when I’m in the street and they stop me to say, to my face, they say to me, “Counselor, give me $5, I put my hand in my pocket and I give them $5. If I don’t give him $5, like you say, I’m the richest man in Ecuador.
Fernando del Rincón: Hear, hear, I don’t say it. I just asked, and you told me that that’s how they refer to you.
Álvaro Noboa: Well, then they see me like some stingy miser.
Gabriela Frías: I imagine that once in a while, so that they don’t say anything to you, and so they look favorably upon you, when they ask you for money you will keep on giving away that money, you will continue to hold raffles as President, that’s what we should infer as well?
Álvaro Noboa: No, I’m not going to give away money, nor hold raffles, as President. There I am going to develop the country. I’m going to transform it into a country like South Korea, like Chile, like Miami, like the United States. There I am going to achieve, through development, that without raffles, that with their work, with their training, and with their education, they become middle class people, that they demand working class salaries, that will allow them to buy houses on credit, buy a car and then have a good education, like you two journalists; your level of education is a given for you.
Fernando del Rincón: Thank you, you’re very kind. At times, I don’t know that we’re that educated, but your compliment is appreciated. But allow me to ask you, why are there so many obstacles to achieving this? Before 98, $.2 million dollars supposedly related to amounts owed; the restriction on leaving the country, and you have a lot of obstacles to overcome. Are you going to remain outside of Ecuador while this restriction is in place? Are you going to return to the country without fear of any other situation that might arise? What are you going to do? What is your plan from now forward?
Álvaro Noboa: We are a few weeks from the registration for candidacy, at which point I will have to register my candidacy and return to the country.
Gabriela Frías: You are going to return to the country in any case? Domingo Paredes, the President of the CNE says that your candidacy is in a critical situation, that’s what Domingo Paredes is saying. So what possibility of success do you see in the middle of this fiscal problem that you are going through?
Álvaro Noboa: In the state the country is in, I wouldn’t be surprised that Correa ends up running against Correa. That is his dream. Like how they do it in North Korea, like how they do it in Syria, like they do it in Cuba. Therefore, I would love to see CNN asking Correa, that they say to him, all right, Mr. Correa, you’ve gotten rid of Álvaro Noboa, now you are going to run alone against yourself.
Fernando del Rincón: We will ask him when we have the chance. Right now, I want to ask you: Do you consider yourself a victim of political persecution? That’s what you seem to be telling us.
Álvaro Noboa: Absolutely a victim of political persecution, and if tomorrow they produce a warrant for my arrest, or something else, I will ask for political asylum in any other country in the world. Absolutely a victim of political persecution. You don’t give very much importance to the number, two thousand times more.
Fernando del Rincón: Yes, yes we do.
Álvaro Noboa: And that the sale was for $120,000,000; they want us to pay $98,000,000 in taxes.
Fernando del Rincón: To simply matters for the international audience, this issue is as if you were to pay more taxes than you received, basically, that is the idea. That is to say, pay more than you earned.
Álvaro Noboa: Thank you very much for that clarification.
Fernando del Rincón: And we give it importance, and we understand it, and for that reason, we are featuring you and for the international audience, perhaps, it is a somewhat confusing topic. Tell me two very important things that you just said.
Álvaro Noboa: We have had more profits than sales.
Fernando del Rincón: Two very important things that you just said, and that I would like you to repeat: you are ready to ask political asylum if it were to become necessary, and even knowing that you will have travel restrictions, you are going to return to Ecuador.
Álvaro Noboa: Yes, the answer is for both, if it is that tomorrow, with or without a restriction to leave the country, I will have to return in the next few days to register my candidacy. If upon wanting to register my candidacy they invent something to put me in prison, then I will go to an embassy to request political asylum, because I would be a victim of political persecution.
Fernando del Rincón: Something like Assange, then.
Thank you very much, Mr. Noboa. It’s been a pleasure.
Álvaro Noboa: Like Mr. Palacios, from one of the communications media, El Universo, who asked for political asylum here in the United States. A colleague of yours, someone from your profession.
Fernando del Rincón: Ah, he is in Miami.
Gabriela Frías: We thank you for having accompanied us and for explaining the particular situation of your company, and your situation as a candidate, aspiring pre-candidate of the PRIAN.
Fernando del Rincón: Thank you very much, Mr. Noboa, greetings.
Álvaro Noboa: I would like to tell you that it is a great honor, and I would like to remind you that in the debate that CNN in Spanish in Ecuador in 2006, I won that debate, and that in that debate it was that I ended up beating Correa in the first round. Hopefully you will hold that debate again.
Fernando del Rincón: We are working precisely on that. Thank you very much, Mr. Noboa.
Álvaro Noboa: Thank you very much, very kind.