Shortly before stepping down as President of the Republic of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno decided to settle scores with the Church by depriving Catholic schools of all subsidies.
“Quien no lo hizo a la entrada, lo hace a la salida,” “what we did not do when entering, we do when leaving”: a very popular saying in Latin America, which seems to have inspired the outgoing president of Ecuador.
Lenin Moreno is indeed on the way out: the presidential election of April 11, 2021 saw the conservative banker, Guillermo Lasso, 65, elected with 52.4% of the vote. The future ex-head of state could not stand for re-election under a law he had passed by referendum against his political opponents.
A curious character this Moreno. Rendered paraplegic after a gunshot wound during a burglary, he spent himself on improving the well-being of people with disabilities during his political mandates. That would earn him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2012.
He was twice elected Vice President of Ecuador as a member of Alianza Pais, made up of more than 30 Ecuadorian left and center-left organizations and political parties. It would be while under this label that he would be elected president in 2017.
He then quarreled with his old friends, and shifted his politics in practice more to the right which would serve to exclude him from the party. For his part, he suspended and then had his vice-president tried on corruption charges, who would be sentenced to six years in prison.
Finally, last September, he vetoed the bill on the health code, adopted by parliament a few months earlier, which removed all restrictions on abortion “in case of obstetric emergency.” This veto was warmly welcomed by the Archbishop of Quito, who thanked the president for this gesture.
But men are often complex. Before leaving as head of state, Lenin Moreno may have wanted to settle accounts with the Catholic institution, which did spare in its support for the elected president, known to be conservative and close to Opus Dei circles.
Thus, a presidential decree signed in mid-May withdraws from Catholic schools the subsidies with which the State endowed them for some thirty years. Firmly opposed, the episcopate of the small Central American country was quick to condemn the measure they consider to be unjust.
“At the end of your term, we would have liked to be able to address you so as to thank you for the services rendered in favor of Catholic education… unfortunately, now we can only express our dissatisfaction with the latest events which harm children and families,” deplore the prelates in their open letter.
The bishops also denounce “an unspeakable act of exclusion”: teachers in Catholic schools are excluded from the bonus of two hundred dollars - just over 160 € - paid to public professors teachers.
The annoying measure of the outgoing president extends even to school breakfasts, which will no longer be free in Catholic establishments: “what a terrible infamy you are committing towards the poorest and most deprived, rejecting the children who live in the most remote areas of the country,” the episcopate protests.