Bucaram, Abdalá (1952–)

views updated

Bucaram, Abdalá (1952–)

Abdalá Bucaram's political career, which began with a brief tenure as major of Guayaquil in the early 1980s, coincides with the phase of democratic regimes in Ecuador that began in 1979 and continues into the twenty-first century. He participated in the 1988, 1992, and 1996 elections, becoming president in July 1996. Through humor and mockery he transformed politics into his own flamboyant show, challenging the elite's power and privileges and portraying white and mestizo upper classes as the source of all ills and the poor as the incarnation of authentic national values.

During his time as president Bucaram recorded a CD titled El Loco que Ama ("the crazy one who loves") and presented it on national television, became president of Guayaquil's most important soccer team, and auctioned off his mustache for a million dollars for charities. Lorena Bobbitt, the Ecuadorian woman who became notorious for cutting off her abusive American husband's penis in 1993, was his honorary guest. In the midst of this populist spectacle, Bucaram's neoliberal policies resulted in an increase in the prices of basic services. He alienated entrepreneurs, who were fearful of corruption; he angered the armed forces by making gestures of peace toward Peru; and he provoked the leadership of social movements, who staged massive demonstrations. After six months in office, he faced charges of embezzlement. Forced out of office by congress on grounds of "mental incapacity," he fled to Panama.

In March 2005 President Lucio Gutiérrez appointed one of Bucaram's close friends president of the Supreme Court, who proceeded to absolve Bucaram of corruption charges. Bucaram's brief return to Ecuador from Panama was one of the main reasons for Gutiérrez's removal from office. When charges against Bucaram were reinstated, he went back to Panama.

See alsoArteaga, Rosalía; Ecuador: Since 1830.


Bucaram, Abdalá. Golpe de Estado. Guayaquil: Prediciones, 1998.

Cornejo, Diego, ed. ¡Que se vaya! Crónica el bucaramato. Quito: Edimpres-Hoy, 1997.

Freidenberg, Flavia. Jama, caleta y camello: Las estrategias de Abdalá Bucaram y el PRE para ganar elecciones. Quito: Corporación Editora Nacional, 2003.

Torre, Carlos de la. ¡Un sólo toque! Populismo y cultura política en Ecuador. Quito: CAAP, 1996.

Torre, Carlos de la. Populist Seduction in Latin America: The Ecuadorian Experience. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 2000.

                                       Carlos de la Torre