While Ecuador is a country that often doesn't register on the radar of newsreaders in the United States and Europe, many began paying attention over the last week during the final round of presidential elections that pitted right-wing banker Guillermo Lasso against now-President-Elect Lenin Moreno.
One reason why so many curious heads turned to the south was the idiosyncratic first name of the winning candidate — Lenin. Yet while Moreno — who was born in the Amazon region near the Ecuador-Peru border — had a leftist professor father who looked up to the Russian revolutionary, the name is far more common in the Andean country than one might expect.
The National Statistics Institute list 18,464 people named Lenin at birth between the years 1950 and 2015 versus only 16,088 Guillermos in the same period. In the United States — a country with 20 times Ecuador's population — the amount of Lenins is less than 1,700.
Other popular historic names in the South American country include Stalin, at 18,728; Vladimir, at 1,518; Leon, 860, Roosevelt, 587; and even Hitler, of which there are 560. Mao and Trotsky trail behind the rest of the gang at 122 and 22 respectively.
"Lenin" was the pseudonym for Russian Bolshevik leader and communist theoretician Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, who was thought to have named himself after Russia's Lena River while carrying out underground revolutionary work and hiding from authorities at the time. V.I. Lenin had about 150 pseudonyms throughout his revolutionary life.
From the late 30s through the Cold War, given names like Lenin and Stalin enjoyed a bit of popularity in India, as well — especially in the south and east of the country, where different communist tendencies enjoyed strong influence.