Ecuador Elects World’s Only Head of State in a Wheelchair

Extract from article by in New York Times, APRIL 7, 2017:

Lenín Moreno, Ecuador’s president-elect, has described being a paraplegic as a blessing. People who walk, he explained a few years ago, keep their gaze trained forward and upward.

“When you don’t have legs, you look down,” he said in 2012, when he was vice president, during a visit to the World Bank. “That’s what I learned: that there’s another life, another existence, that there are other human beings that need a lot from us. For me, this was a novel experience that I thank God for.”

When he assumes office next month, Mr. Moreno will be the only head of state who needs a wheelchair to get around. That will make him among the most powerful and visible champions of people with disabilities, and position Ecuador to continue setting an example on a human rights issue that has lagged as a global priority.

There are reasons to question whether Mr. Moreno, who won a tight runoff contest on Sunday, will be a good president. The way he snapped at journalists during his first news conference does not bode well for Ecuador’s press freedoms, which eroded sharply during the decade-long tenure of President Rafael Correa, who won his first election in 2006 with Mr. Moreno as a running mate. Critics also fear that the incoming president could shield former government officials suspected of corruption from prosecution.

Yet, on disability rights, Mr. Moreno has spoken with tremendous passion, and there is much he can do to make the world easier to navigate for people like himself…

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