His country is the worst hit by the coronavirus in the developing world. Deaths came so fast in the business capital that bodies were left at home for days in tropical heat waiting for collection. Government finances are so bad that all officials have been asked to take a pay cut, the national airline and the post office have been liquidated and foreign debt is unpayable.
A haggard-looking Lenin Moreno, Ecuador’s president, pauses for thought. “This is the real first world war,” he told the Financial Times in a video interview. “The other world wars were localised in [some] continents with very little participation from other continents . . . but this affects everyone. It’s quite a cruel war. It attacks fundamentally the most vulnerable people. It is not localised. It is not a war from which you can escape.”
Even the official figures, which Mr Moreno acknowledges are an understatement, show Ecuador has the highest per capita coronavirus death rate among developing nations. They suggest 3,600 people died in a country of 17m. But an FT analysis of mortality data showed that there were more than 19,200 excess deaths across the country between January and mid-May, with 12,000 coming solely in the province containing the country’s biggest city Guayaquil.
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