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Correa dedicates win to Venezuela's Chavez

Feb. 18, 2013 at 1:55 AM

QUITO, Ecuador, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa who swept to re-election with 57 percent of the vote, dedicated his victory to ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

"Let us take the opportunity to dedicate this victory to that great Latin American leader who changed Venezuela, and wish him a speedy recovery and the best future for his country," Correa told a news conference after declaring victory Sunday.

With 100 percent of votes counted Correa won with 56.7 percent of the votes cast, the National Electoral Council said.

Guillermo Lasso, a banker, the closest of Correa's seven opponents, had 23.3 percent. Ballots left blank accounted for 1.5 percent of the vote.

"Nobody can stop this revolution," Correa told thousands of supporters from the balcony of the presidential palace in Quito.

Correa mounted a "socialist revolution" similar to that of Chavez in Venezuela when he first took power in 2007.

"The colonial powers are not in charge anymore. You can be sure that in this revolution it's Ecuadoreans who are in charge," Correa told the cheering crowd Sunday night.

He thanked voters "for this immense trust" of returning him to office.

"We have never failed you, and we will never fail you," he said.

Correa, an economist who studied at the University of Illinois, told reporters he would continue policies to end poverty and social inequality, saying the challenge of the next four years "is go faster and deeper in the same direction."

Critics worry a strong mandate will embolden him to concentrate power further and move forward with policies that could limit press freedom and quash dissent, The New York Times reported.

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