Cuba's Fidel Castro and Secretary of State George Shultz were among leaders gathering in Quito Wednesday for the inauguration of Rodrigo Borja, who is expected to steer his nation away from the United States and toward the political left.
Borja, a Social Democrat, succeeds President Leon Febres Cor-dero, a millionaire and staunch anti-communist who was one of Washington's closest allies in the region, in a ceremony in Congress at 6 p.m. (7 p.m. EDT).Five Latin leaders, including Castro, arrived in Quito on Tuesday and two others were expected Wednesday for what diplomatic sources said was a "minisummit" on regional issues. A total of 2,000 dignitaries and envoys from 108 nations and international organizations were expected for the inauguration.
Borja, 53, has pledged to renew diplomatic relations with Nicaragua on Wednesday after he takes office, and sources said Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega may fly in from Managua to join in meetings on Thursday.
In San Salvador, El Salvador, Tuesday, Shultz said "there is no good reason and no time" for a meeting with Ortega while the two are in Quito.
Borja will become the third elected president to take office in Ecuador since military rulers returned the nation of 10 million people to democracy in 1979 after seven years of dictatorship.
The transfer of power has been modified so that Borja and Febres Cordero, bitter political foes, do not come face to face.
Traditionally the outgoing president hands over the presidential sash directly to the president-elect. But Febres Cordero will read a state-of-the-union message to Congress at noon, and Borja will receive the sash from the president of Congress at 6 p.m.