Gabriela Rivadeneira has been elected to be the new President leading Ecuadors legislative assembly.
The 29-year-old has had a meteoric rise through the ranks of the President Rafael Correa’s Alianza PAIS political movement. Perceived as the next generation of the party, it has been hinted she could succeed Correa as the PAIS presidential candidate in the next election.
She was elected a council member in the Otavalo Municipality for the first time in 2004 as a member of the Pachacutik party. In 2006, she left Pachacutik and joined a group that was absorbed into PAIS in the lead up to Correas first presidential win, in 2007. She was reelected to Otavalos council in 2008. During her last two years on council she served as deputy mayor. She was then elected viceprefect of the Imbabura province in 2009.
Her term was interrupted, though, when in 2011 she was handpicked by President Correa to be the Governor of Imbabura, the executive’s representative in the province. That same year, she was chosen to represent the youth wing of PAIS.
In February 2013, PAIS selected her to run at the top of their ticket for national representatives to the legislative assembly. That brought her to national prominence. By leading the ticket, her election was prioritized over that of incumbent candidates including Fernando Cordero (the Assembly president at the time), Jorge Cassinelli (Assembly vicepresident and Correas friend since university) and Rosana Alvarado (one of the main voices from the womens caucus).
Ecuador’s National Assembly is conformed by 137 members. Of those, 15 are “national members” who are elected in a country-wide ballot, six are members elected by Ecuadorian migrants in foreign countries, and 116 are representatives elected by the various provinces. As the top of the winning PAIS national ticket, Rivadeneira received the most votes of any elected assembly member.
According to a recent profile in El Comercio, when she was younger she’d go out at night with a friend to paint political graffiti on walls (messages against a fair trade treaties, the American military base in Manta, and foreign debt). She’s an avid reader of Eduardo Galeano, and has received political training paid for by Alianza PAIS in Libya, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile and Argentina. She was a member of the Ecuadorian delegation that accompanied Rafael Correa to Hugo Chávez’s funeral.
In the next assembly, set to start on May 24, both Rivadeneira’s vicepresidents will also be women: Rosana Alvarado (first vice-president) and Marcela Aguiñaga (second vice-president).