Ecuador’s new President Daniel Noboa delivers his first speech during his inauguration at the National Assembly in Quito on November 23, 2023. – Ecuador’s new president, the 35-year-old millionaire heir to a banana empire, Daniel Noboa, took office Thursday as the leader of a country gripped by a bloody drug war. (Photo by Rodrigo BUENDIA / AFP)
Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old millionaire and heir to a business enterprise, assumed the presidency of Ecuador on Thursday. His inauguration marked the beginning of a bloody drug war-ridden nation.
"The endeavor is extremely challenging, and time is of the essence. Following his sworn-in during a ceremony witnessed by foreign representatives and Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Noboa exclaimed, “Let’s get to work!”
Noboa, elected president in October on a peacebuilding platform, succeeds Guillermo Lasso, who called for immediate elections to prevent the possibility of impeachment.
He will complete the remaining 18 months of Lasso’s tenure in office.
Violent conflict has escalated in recent years in Ecuador. This country was once a refuge for cocaine exporters from Peru and Colombia, as rival gangs with ties to Mexican and Colombian cartels vie for dominance.
As of this moment, drug-related violence has been attributed to approximately 3,600 homicides, according to the Ecuadorian Observatory of Organized Crime.
The election was further marred by violence when Fernando Villavicencio, a prominent presidential candidate, was fatally shot following a rally preceding the first round.
“To combat violence, we must address unemployment; the nation requires employment and will implement immediate reforms to that end,” stated Noboa.
Without parliamentary support and political experience, Noboa will have a “structurally weak government,” according to SEK International University political scientist Santiago Cahuasqui.
He added that this administration must be “extremely pragmatic and realistic in regards to its capabilities and objectives to prevent further discontent among Ecuadorians.”
To stem the drug war, Noboa has stated he will declare a state of emergency, suspend certain citizen rights (such as freedom of movement), and deploy the military to the streets.
During his candidacy, he advocated for the establishment of barge-based offshore prisons as a means of isolating the most disruptive inmates.
Born into his affluent father Alvaro’s banana empire in the port city of Guayaquil, Noboa is a musician and a fine wine enthusiast.
Five times, his father, who was not present at the ceremony, unsuccessfully sought the presidency.
Noboa is a graduate of New York University with a degree in business administration and Harvard, Northwestern, and George Washington Universities with three master’s degrees.
He founded his own events company at the age of 18 before becoming a member of the Noboa family business.
In the October election, Noboa’s National Democratic Action alliance, which it had just established, secured a mere 17 out of 137 parliamentary seats.
On Friday, to secure a majority for crucial political appointments, he allied with the right-wing Social Christian Party and the progressive movement led by former president Rafael Correa.