Jan. 22 (Wednesday)

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Full Name: Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado
Born: April 6, 1963 in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Rafael Correa is the President of Ecuador (2007-) and the former president pro tempore (2009-10) of the Union of South American Nations. One of the continent’s leading leftists, he ranked with Bolivian President Evo Morales as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ staunchest ally.

An economist, Correa declared Ecuador’s national debt illegitimate, claiming it was odious debt contracted by corrupt regimes that preceded him. He announced that Ecuador would default on over three billion dollars in bonds, then fought creditors in international courts.

In 2009, Correa brought Ecuador into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. His administration has reduced high levels of poverty, indigence and unemployment. Correa has offered political asylum to celebrity fugitives Julian Assange (of WikiLeaks) and Edward Snowden (the NSA whistle-blower). But are Assange and Snowden genuine whistle-blowers or are they corporate operatives?