Ex-Ecuadorian leader Gustavo Noboa dies after brain surgery

QUITO, Ecuador — Former President Gustavo Noboa, who restored some stability to Ecuador during a profound economic crisis that produced political turmoil at the beginning of the century, died Tuesday in the U.S. following surgery for a brain tumor. He was 83.

President Lenín Moreno confirmed Noboa’s death in a tweet.

“Ecuador is in mourning,” Moreno wrote. “Starting tomorrow, I will decree a national mourning in memory of Gustavo Noboa, former President of the Republic. Beloved friend, respected democrat, youth moral builder, patriot. My condolences to his family and friends.”

Noboa became president in January 2000 after a popular revolt ended the term of President Jamil Mahuad. At the time, Ecuador’s deep economic crisis led the government to adopt the U.S. dollar as its national currency. The nation was on the brink of hyperinflation and half of the 42 banks had failed or closed.

Noboa ratified the currency change, tackled the serious consequences of the El Niño climate phenomenon, especially on the Ecuadorian coast, and successfully renegotiated the country’s debt. His political rivals then accused him of embezzlement, which prompted him to take asylum in Costa Rica from 2003 to 2005.

He was succeeded by Lucio Gutiérrez as president.

Noboa is remembered for his kindness, but also for the firmness of his convictions, which he instilled in many in his capacity as a secondary school teacher and university professor.

Former Vice President Alberto Dahik tweeted Tuesday that “an honorable, responsible president who successfully led the country through very hard times died. A youth trainer like no other … he loved his country very much. He always said: God’s times are perfect.”

Noboa was married to María Isabel Baquerizo, with whom he had six children.