der Sixto to control inflation, which hadrnbeen 60 percent. It was brought to 25rnpercent in 1995 and was predicted to bern26 percent in 1996. This kind of austerityrndid not permit the social programsrnthat people thought they ought to get,rnand Bucaram, from the opposition, filledrnthis vacuum. He out-promised Nebot.rnMy contact in Quito, FernandornSanchez, suggested we take a “walkingrnpoll.” He felt the predictions of a Nebotrnvictory were premature. We walked thernstreets of the city and simply asked. Firstrnwe ran into some beggars. “Who are vournvoting for?” “Abdala.” “Why?” “He’srngoing to give us housing.” On anotherrnstreet, a taxi driver: “Nebot.” Interestingly,rnone candidate was known by hisrnlast name, the other by his Brst. Fernandornexplained to me later that Abdalarnwould allow provincial governors andrnmayors to act against the drivers’ interest.rnA middle-class couple: “It’s a good question.rnDon’t know. Probably nu/o.” Onernmilitary man said he should not answerrnthe question, and an Otavalo Indian inrnhis distinctive blue poncho and immaculaternwhite pants said he was leaning towardrnAbdala. Though the citv of Quitornis not typical of the countrv at large, thernscore ended up: Abdala 2; Nebot 1; nulorn1; cannot answer 1.rnI was told that Abdala had ]5romisedrn150,000 new homes if he was elected.rnModest homes, to be sure, but newrnhomes. How? Government subsidy. Itrnmight make American home buyers feelrna lot better about their interest rates tornknow that home mortgage interest inrnEcuador is between 40 and 55 percent.rnShould the government borrow thernmoney to subsidize housing partially (ifrnanyone will lend it to them), it is inevitablernthat the anticipated 26 percentrninflation for 1996 will jump through thernroof. This is what is passing for “populism”rnin Ecuador.rnThe second major aspect of the campaign,rnlike the first, may remind Chroniclesrnreaders of the ’92 campaign in thernUnited States. Abdala does not pla- thernsaxophone, but he can sing and dance. Irnhave seen him smg and dance on television.rnLike a “man of the people,” herndoes both about like the people do,rnwhich is not very well. But that’s the secretrnof being just one of the people. Hernout good-ol-boyed Nebot, or ratherrnNebot did not know how to good-ol-boy.rnNext go round he needs to take anrnArkansas seminar in “Shuckins.”rnSimilarities go further. AbdaLa hadrnTired little merchant from the market.rnmade, as one politician noted, imprudentrnremarks about the military (whichrnis not permitted) and spent six years inrnexile in Panama. While there he wasrnfound with a kilo or so of the magic whiternpowder in his car, which he said hadrnbeen planted by his enemies in Ecuador.rnEariier he was absoKed by Congress forrnmalfeasance in office as mayor ofrnGuayaquil, but his sister, while mayor,rnstole money from the citv and has sincernbeen residing in exile in Panama herself.rnJust family traditions.rnAs near as I can tell, in Ecuador arnwall without graffiti is like a day withoutrnsunshine; walls and most da s had lotsrnof both. One masterpiece: “Abdalarnmiente par cado una de sua espimllas en surncara” (“Abdala lies for every one of thernpimples on his face”), which is quiterna lot. All of which led to his upset victoryrnover Nebot. Nebot carried thernprovinces of the two major cities, Quitornand Guayaquil, but lost the other 19rnprovinces.rnSouth America must seem ripernfor takeover attempts. Abdala is ofrnLebanese descent, and upon his victoryrnhis village of Guach El Hajar in northrnLebanon broke out in celebration, gunsrnand all. Which has led one wit to writernabout South America’s “three kingsrnfrom the Orient.” Fujimori, president ofrnPeru, is of Japanese descent, and GadosrnSaul Menem descends from Syria.rnImmediately following Abdala’s victory,rnthe markets in New York reflected thernfear of what he might do, and dropped.rnShortly after this, Abdala went to Panamarnfor rest and recuperation and wasrnphotographed with his exiled sister, Elsa.rnFamous and infamous around Ecuador isrna woman bv the name of Mama Luecha.rnShe is a tough gangsterette who ran thernlocal markets in her town. Finally shernwas imprisoned. A graffito in Quito reflectedrnthe new change in a couplet: .JcimarnLiiecha esta presa / Elsa regresa (MamarnLuecha is captured, Elsa returns).rnWill Elsa return to Ecuador, I asked arnpundit? If Abdala can pack the SupremernCourt.rnWhat does Abdala’s victory presagernfor Ecuador? I’Vom those I talked to, nornsignificant change. In an interview withrnRene Mauge, a presidential candidate inrn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn