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It’s not just the poor for whom the government is writing checks.

Some 100,000 middle-class first-time home buyers have received a $5,000 one-time “housing subsidy” grant that enable them to afford down payments.

“The payments have a direct bearing on the president’s image. In political terms, they have the excellent effect of sustaining his political project,” said Simon Pachano, a political scientist at the Latin American Social Sciences Institute.

Mr. Correa also has plowed millions into education, giving free uniforms to a million students, textbooks to 3 million and regularly feeding 1.6 million breakfast.

“It’s a great relief because sometimes we just don’t have the money,” said Francisco Carvajal, a 28-year-old father of three who said he earns $750 a month from his job at a construction-materials sales company.

His children got free uniforms and texts as well as English and computing classes free of charge.

Mr. Correa is far from Ecuador’s first populist leader. Yet he has been hounded by none of the accusations of corruption that drove previous presidents from office.

His popularity is anything but universal, however.

In striving for what he and Mr. Chavez call “21st-century socialism,” Mr. Correa has alienated bankers, industrialists, the Roman Catholic Church and even indigenous groups.

Initially backing him, the indigenous groups now object to his insistence that the state can extract minerals from their traditional lands without their consent.

Many business leaders are angry with Mr. Correa over his chumminess with Iran, fearing that he is distancing Ecuador from the U.S., still the country’s top trading partner.

On no adversary has Mr. Correa unleashed such bile as on the opposition news media, which he claims “oligarchs” have used to seek to discredit him.

Mr. Correa has had a columnist and three directors of the opposition newspaper El Universo successfully prosecuted for criminal defamation. They have been sentenced to three years in prison each and a collective total of $40 million in fines, though the sentence is on appeal.

Human Rights Watch has decried how Mr. Correa used a May referendum to obtain a popular mandate for reforms that could “constrain media and influence the appointment and dismissal of judges.”

It also complained that people involved in protests where violence occurs “may be prosecuted on inflated and inappropriate terrorism charges.”