- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
With the outcome of the U.S. election so uncertain, foreign heads of state have generally refrained from expressing support for either presidential candidate. But as my colleague Josh Keating has noted, leaders like France’s Francois Hollande, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez have suggested that they’re partial to Barack Obama. Now, it seems, we can add Ecuador’s Rafael Correa to the list.
During an interview with a Chilean radio station on Friday, Correa noted that he didn’t want to "interfere in the internal matters of other countries." But what he said afterward sounded a whole lot like an endorsement of Obama.
"I wish the best of luck to President Obama," the leftist leader declared, according to the news agency EFE. "I am personally fond of President Obama, I think he is a great person." Republican administrations, he added, "have always had a much more unfamiliar, a much more simplistic and primitive foreign policy toward Latin America."
In the presidential debate on foreign policy this week, Mitt Romney criticized Obama for pledging in 2008 to sit down with Latin American leaders like Chavez, who is an ally of Correa’s. But the GOP candidate also called for more trade with countries in the region.
Correa’s comments might not sit well with conservatives like evangelical leader and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, whose Campaign for American Values PAC released an ad this week proclaiming that Obama had secured the "dictator vote" from Chavez, Putin, and Fidel Castro:
Obama actually has a complicated relationship with Correa. The U.S. president phoned the Ecuadorean leader in 2009 to mend strained relations between the two countries, but Correa, a U.S.-trained economist, has since expelled the U.S. ambassador to Ecuador over a WikiLeaks cable and offered asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
However Correa feels about Obama’s policies, he appears to think Romney’s would be worse.