Politics in Ecuador has always been a bare-knuckle affair, but now the country’s president wants to take it to the next level by challenging a congressional opponent to a fistfight. And his challenge has been accepted.
During his weekend television address President Rafael Correa challenged opposition congressman Andres Paez to fisticuffs after the lawmaker criticized his administration for purchasing seven transport helicopters from India in 2009. Four of the helicopters have since crashed, killing several people, and three others were grounded after being deemed unsafe for use.
“If those helicopters were so good, why did Correa never use them?” Paez tweeted on Oct. 15
The tweet caused Correa to come out swinging.
“I don’t want to give a bad example to the kids,” Correa said in his weekly, nationally televised show, which is broadcast live in front of hundreds of supporters. “But if he has a problem with me, he has to stop hiding behind his congressional seat, he knows where to find me, or he can tell me where to find him and we will fix this one on one, once and for all.”
The president called Paez a “liar” and a “deranged individual”, and challenged him to settle their differences like “we used to in my neighborhood.”
Paez surprisingly accepted Correa’s challenge to fight, but he said that first he would like to face the president in a nationally televised debate to discuss Ecuador’s growing economic problems.
The congressman, a fierce Correa critic, said on his Facebook that he wants the president to come to the fight without “his 300 bodyguards.”
“I want to see if you have the guts to fight on your own,” Paez wrote on Facebook, answering machismo with machismo. “And I hope that you don’t resort to scratching me or hitting me with your purse.”
Hopefully Correa will not back down from the fight..
Correa says that opposition leaders and the country’s main media outlets are waging a “dirty war” of personal attacks and lies to oust his leftist government.
But critics of the president say the proposed fist fight is just the latest example of Correa’s inability to handle criticism.
Correa has used his nationally televised programs to lambast regular people who criticize him on Twitter. His government has filed numerous lawsuits —some for millions of dollars in damages— against columnists and cartoonists who criticize the president. Earlier this year Correa even set up an online platform that encouraged government supporters to go after anti-government twitter users.
Correa’s Twitter wars even earned him a segment on John Oliver’s HBO Show, Last Week Tonight.