Ecuador’s Correa Overhauls Cabinet

[Source – Latin American Herald Tribune]

QUITO – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa made changes to his Cabinet on Friday as part of an overhaul begun in response to the violent police mutiny of Sept. 30.

The president swore-in retired Adm. Homero Arellano as new minister of Internal and External Security, succeeding Miguel Carvajal, while Alfredo Vera takes over the Interior Ministry, replacing the departed Gustavo Jalkh.

Arellano, serving until now as intelligence secretary, and Vera, a former anti-corruption chief, are both stalwart advocates of Correa’s political program.

Correa named retired Vice Adm. Luis Alberto Yepez to succeed Arellano in the intelligence post.

The new appointments supply the Cabinet with much-needed new blood, according to both Carvajal and Jalkh, who will remain with the administration in other positions.

Jalkh and Carvajal were responsible for security at the time of the Sept. 30 uprising, which ended only when military special forces units rescued Correa from a Quito hospital under siege by mutinous police angry about a new salary regime.

The president said Carvajal will serve as deputy agriculture secretary and that Jalkh is to become his private secretary, an office held until recently by musician and writer Galo Mora, who left the government to assume the leadership of Correa’s Alianza Pais movement.

In his speech at Friday’s ceremony, the center-left president acknowledged that Ecuador has a crime problem, but accused some elements of the media of deliberately misrepresenting the situation to discredit the government.

Ecuador, according to Correa, experiences 18 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, compared with the South American average of 22 murders per 100,000.

He said his administration’s security policy will focus on improving the quality of policing, legal reform and strengthening of the justice system, and promoting the idea of Ecuador as a territory of peace.