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Ecuador: Left wins key ruling on government effort to rig election

Photo of Ecuador: Left wins key ruling on government effort to rig election

Walter Smolarek

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The left in Ecuador secured a crucial victory yesterday in the face of attempts by the right-wing government of President Lenín Moreno to deny progressive candidate Andrés Arauz the right to stand in next February’s presidential election. The National Electoral Council ruled that the  Union for Hope alliance would be permitted to nominate a substitute Vice Presidential candidate to take the place of disqualified former President Rafael Correa. From 2007-2017, Correa led a process of major social and political change in favor of the working class referred to as the Citizen’s Revolution. 

Barring any unexpected developments, journalist Carlos Rabascall will be officially registered as the Union for Hope’s candidate for the Vice Presidency within days. The alternative would be for the entire ticket to be thrown out in its entirety, meaning that Arauz too would be disqualified. The decision was narrow, passing with a 3-2 majority of council members. 

Correa’s replacement on the presidential ticket was made necessary by an unjust September 8 court ruling that upheld his criminal conviction and 8-year prison sentence on false charges of bribery. Not only did the prosecution fail to provide any concrete evidence, the legal proceedings were rushed and marred by collusion between the prosecutor and a judge.

Correa is not the only political leader in Ecuador who is the victim of legal persecution. Former Vice President Jorge Glas and Paola Pabón, governor of the key province of Pichincha, have been jailed by the Moreno government. Former National Assembly president Gabriela Rivadeneira and former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño are in exile in Mexico. Many others have been targeted as well

Ecuador’s election a key front for the Latin American left

During Correa’s presidency, Ecuador was a stalwart member of the bloc of leftist governments that swept to power in a continent-wide rejection of neo-liberal economic policies and the political domination of the United States often referred to as the “pink tide”. Ecuador was a member of this trend’s more left-wing, pro-socialist grouping led by Venezuela and Cuba and organized into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA). 

Moreno was Correa’s Vice-President during his first term in office, and ran with Correa’s full backing as the official candidate of the Citizens Revolution. However, Moreno betrayed his supporters shortly after taking office and formed an alliance with the country’s traditional right wing. 

This formed part of a succession of victories for U.S.-backed, right-wing forces in the region. The election of right wing presidents in Argentina and Chile, the return of the fascistic right to power in Colombia, the imprisonment of former President Lula in Brazil and the election of Jair Bolsonaro, the dramatic intensification of the economic war against Venezuela and the coup in Bolivia were all part of the same trend. 

But Latin America’s people’s movements and left wing political organizations have courageously resisted the right wing offensive and launched a counter-attack of their own, and Ecuador is no exception. Last year, when Moreno’s government reached an accord with the IMF to impose devastating austerity measures, the people rose up in such huge numbers and with such intensity that the government was forced to flee the capital and reinstate key subsidies. 

A victory for the pro-Citizens Revolution ticket in the presidential election, which opinion polls indicate is likely unless there is major fraud, would have huge implications for the entire region. This week’s win in the National Electoral Council keeps hope for such a development alive.

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Ecuador: Ex-President Bucaram Detained for Alleged Corruption

Abdala Bucaram wearing a blue shirt surrounded by boxes with medical supplies in his home, Guayaquil, Ecuador, June 3, 2020.

Previously, independent outlets denounced the acquisition of medical supplies with a surcharge.

Ecuador’s former President Abdala Bucaram was detained in an operation carried out to investigate allegations of corruption in the purchase of medical supplies during the health emergency declared by the President Lenin Moreno administration.

RELATED: Ecuador Faces Wave of Corruption Amid Pandemic

Early Wednesday morning, authorities raided Bucaram’s home as part of investigations into alleged embezzlement in purchases of medical supplies at a public hospital.

In his home, they found KN-95 masks, rapid tests to detect COVID-19, and a pistol for which the conservative politician had no possession permit.

Abdala Bucaram is part of a Lebanese-descent dynasty that has controlled some areas of the Guayaquil city for decades.

He was president of Ecuador for just 6 months, from August 10, 1996, to February 6, 1997, when he was removed from office by the National Congress after being declared mentally unfit to rule.

Subsequently, Bucaram went into exile in Panama for almost two decades to evade several corruption charges that were laid against him.

Guido Delgado@GuidoDelgadoC

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#ÚltimoMinutoEl expresidente Abdalá Bucaram ha sido detenido en #Guayaquil tras allanamiento a su casa. @FiscaliaEcuador

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2:24 PM – Jun 3, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee Guido Delgado’s other Tweets

“Breaking: Ex-President Abdala Bucaram has been detained in Guayaquil after a raid on his home.”

In June 2017, the populist politician returned to Ecuador and began supporting Fuerza Ecuador, a party controlled by his son who has turned Christianity into the Bucaram dynasty’s new flag to win supporters.

As part of the alliances to stay in power, the Moreno administration granted the Bucaram the management of some public institutions, among which are the hospitals linked to the Ecuadorian social security system.

“The recent purchase with a surcharge of bags for the transfer of corpses at Guayaquil’s Los Ceibos hospital reveals the existence of an organized corruption structure that operates in hospital centers,” local independent outlet Pichincha Comunicaciones denounced in May.

“Each body bag was purchased for US$149 when other suppliers offered the same product from US$12,” it added.​​​​​​​

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Will Policy of Destabilizing Latin American Countries Help Trump to be Re-Elected?

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research,

As the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election campaign heats up, there is every chance that Donald Trump can become a one-term president as the popularity of Bernie Sanders increases despite the sabotage within his own Democrat Party against him. There still remains a strong possibility that Sanders can become the next president sitting in the White House. Sanders continues to grow mass appeal, with former Trump White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon even conceding last month that the Democrat candidate is a “populist,” even if it is different to that of Trump’s. Sanders appeals to the impoverished by directing the frustrations of Middle America to the ultrarich who are fighting tooth and nail to bring the U.S. to Western standards by providing free education and healthcare. This is in contrasts to Trump’s populism which redirects anger of Middle America’s increasing impoverishment to the so-called immigrant “invasion” coming from Latin America.

One of Trump’s main platforms for his seemingly ‘unlikely’ election win, as many so-called experts thought of it back in 2016, was to build a wall traversing the border between the U.S. and Mexico to make it even more difficult for illegal immigrants to enter the North American country. All the slurs and accusations of racism were not able to subdue Trump’s fever as many in Middle America believed they finally found a candidate that spoke their language, addressed their issues and provided a solution to the so-called problem of illegal immigrants “invading” their country. Trump of course knows that illegal immigrants are not the reason for the U.S. problems of de-industrialization, lack of job opportunities, unaffordability and poverty – but it was this rhetoric that projected him into what was an unexpected win for the presidency against Hillary Clinton.

With Sanders speaking of a new populism, not based on a so-called invasion from immigrants, but actually addressing the real issues of the U.S. political and economic system, it is likely that Trump will resort back to the fear of Latin American illegal immigrants to project him to the presidency. This of course may not be necessary in the likely case that the Democrats ignore the popularity of Sanders to go for a Hillary Clinton-like hack and establishment pawn like Joe Biden who will prove unpopular against Trump. None-the-less, Trump will not take chances and will begin using the refugee card, frightening U.S. voters with the threat of new flows coming from Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras, Mexico and other countries.Trump’s Win Wasn’t Ideological. It Was Brilliant

Meanwhile the world’s focus right now is on the Greek-Turkish border where tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are trying to enter Greece on the orders of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with a high level of international solidarity going to the European country. However, there are stark differences between the migration crisis between the U.S. and Greece. Greece is an impoverished post-colonial country that was under Turkish occupation for over 400 years and does not have the means to support such large numbers.

Nor is Greece the reason for this migrant crisis as it had not invaded Afghanistan, where the majority of illegal migrants come from despite the incorrect reporting that they are Syrian, nor did Greece invade or apply economic sanctions on Pakistan, Iran, North Africa and Syria where the other illegal migrants are from. In the case of Latin America though, the U.S. is the key country in destabilizing the region and therefore has a responsibility to attend to the refugees that itself created. Although many in Middle America are impoverished, this is a result of their own leaderships economic policies, and rather the U.S. is the world’s richest country and has the means and capabilities of dealing with Latin American migrants it creates.

Non-the-less, as the so-called “invasion” of illegal immigrants has drastically decreased, Trump will be wanting to desperately destabilize Latin American countries to create an atmosphere of fear in the U.S. ahead of the presidential election to show voters that he is their only and sole defender whom they must elect in order to secure their future and safety. It worked in 2016 and he will be betting for it to work again later this year. Trump has already mentioned he has some kind of intentions of doing this during an address to the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit only yesterday.

“We’re with Venezuela all the way, and we’re doing a lot, and we have a lot planned,” said Trump, adding that

“the tragedy in Venezuela is a reminder that socialism and communism bring misery and heartache everywhere they’re tried,” prompting a cry of “gracias” from a member of the audience.

Trump has consistently applied devastating sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to force the removal of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and in support of wannabe president Juan Guaidó.

However, these sanctions have had such a devastating effect on the Venezuelan economy that it has prompted many people from the country to seek a better life in the U.S. Trump has not hidden away from the fact that he has “a lot planned” for Venezuela, which only guarantees further misery in the country. Unlike Greece, the U.S. prompts illegal migration by destroying the very countries that these people come from. Not only does this destruction serve U.S. corporate interests in these countries, it will also serve Trump’s re-election campaign as there is a strong likelihood that a new immigration crisis will appear at the borders between Mexico and the U.S.

Posted in USA, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, C.I.A, CUBA, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, PeruComments Off on Will Policy of Destabilizing Latin American Countries Help Trump to be Re-Elected?

From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

By Global Research New

Video: Syrian Armed Forces Teach ‘2nd Strongest NATO Army’ Painful Lesson in Idlib

By South Front,

Units of the Russian Military Police entered the town of Saraqib in eastern Idlib following the second liberation of the town from al-Qaeda terrorists and Turkish forces. According to the Russian military, the deployment took place at 5:00pm local time on March 2 and was intended to provide security and allow traffic through the M4 and M5 highways. In fact, the Russians came to put an end to Turkish attempts to capture the town and cut off the M5 highway in this area.

From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

By Elson Concepción Pérez,

The latest threat to Venezuela of a possible military intervention, the recent coup in Bolivia under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS), the tightening of the blockade of Cuba, destabilization in Nicaragua, and open interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region, where democratic governments have set the standards for development and sovereignty, do not come as a surprise.

The US-Taliban ‘Peace Deal’? Imperial State Criminality and Terrorism, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and “Restorative Justice”

By Junaid S. Ahmad,

The US/NATO war and occupation of Afghanistan offers a glaring case of what US Senator Fulbright (yes, the one who started the Fulbright program of scholarships and exchanges) called the ‘arrogance of power’ (of his country), his book being of the same title. The wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world, with a war machine on steroids, invading and occupying for nearly two decades one of the poorest countries on the planet – and one which had already undergone two decades of uninterrupted internecine war in the prior two decades.

Keep It Simple and Question: Propaganda, Technology, and Coronavirus COVID-19

By Edward Curtin,

Two of the major problems the world faces – world destruction with nuclear weapons and the poisoning of the earth’s ecology and atmosphere – are the result of the marriage of science and technique that has given birth to the technological “babies” (Little Boy and Fat Man) that were used by the U.S. to massacre hundreds of thousands of Japanese and now threaten to incinerate everyone, and the chemical and toxic inventions that have despoiled the earth, air, and water and continue to kill people worldwide through America’s endless war-making and industrial applications.

Turkey in Syria: Down a Blind Alley in an Unwinnable War?

By Tony Cartalucci,

Turkey had been making some promising steps in the right direction since Washington’s disastrous proxy regime-change war in Syria began unraveling – yet it still maintains a problematic position inside Syrian territory, backing what are unequivocally terrorists and obstructing Syria’s sovereign right to recover and restore order within its own borders.

The latest and most dangerous manifestation of this untenable policy is the increasingly frequent and fierce clashes between Turkish forces occupying Syrian territory and Syrian forces themselves moving deeper into the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib.

Neoliberal Globalization Is Pushing Humanity “Towards the Edge”

By Shane Quinn,

There have been a number of harmful consequences as a result of the neoliberal era, which emerged in the late 1970s, taking off during the tenures of Ronald Reagan (US president, 1981-1989) and Margaret Thatcher (British prime minister, 1979-1990). There has been an explosion of private power, splintering of societies, destabilization of the financial system, and so on.

Neoliberal globalization has been an important factor too in political parties shifting further to the right, and succumbing to the power of increasingly dominant multinational corporations. This is most notable in America where the Republican Party (or organization) has moved so far off the spectrum that traditional republicans from previous decades would hardly recognize it today.

Why Are Stocks Crashing?

By Mike Whitney,

Uncertainty. It’s impossible for investors to gauge the economic impact of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus or its effect on stock prices. Investors buy stocks with the expectation that their investment will grow over time. In periods of crisis, when the environment becomes unfamiliar and opaque, expectations are crushed under the weigh of uncertainty. When expectations dampen, investors sell.

Posted in USA, Brazil, CUBA, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Peru, Puerto Rico, South America, VenezuelaComments Off on From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

Washington’s Consensus on Neofascist Coups in Latin America

by; PAUL STREET

A clash between pro-Zelaya protesters and the Honduran military. Photograph Source: Roberto Breve – CC BY-SA 2.0

However much they war on the domestic political front, Washington’s Democrats and Republicans are on the same page when it comes to the imperial war on democracy and social justice in Latin America.

No Partisan Warfare on Honduras (2009)

In 2009 and 2010 Republicans were in a partisan tizzy over everything Barack Obama and Democratic Party, from health insurance reform to economic stimulus, bank bailouts, auto bailouts, and climate policy. The “Tea Party” rebellion arose, replete with a heavy dose of white herrenvolk racism.

But the Teapublicans offered no complaint when Obama’s Secretary of State Hilary Clinton aided and abetted a right-wing business and military coup that overthrew Honduras’ democratically elected left-populist president Manuel Zelaya in the spring of 2009.  Washington’s two major parties were united in opposition to Zelaya’s alignment of Honduras with Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia in attacking poverty and inequality and redirecting Latin American regional development away from U.S. control [1]. Democrats and Republicans agreed that the independent and egalitarian Latin American trend needed to be checked.

The Honduran coup and the Obama administration’s critical role in supporting it was just peachy keen as the GOP was concerned. Never mind that the regime-change in Honduras produced bloody repression and increased misery in that desperately poor country.

No Impeachment for Backing a Venezuelan Coup Attempt (January 2019)

Flash forward ten years.  The Obama-backed right-wing coup in Honduras helped fuel Central American migrant streams that the demented fascist oligarch Donald Trump railed against during his successful and Nativist presidential campaign. “Donito Assolini” has been mired in partisan turmoil since the beginning of his cancerous, white-nationalist presidency. The two major parties and their constituents disagree sharply over whether the tiny-fingered, tangerine-tinted, Twitter-tantruming tyrant Trump should be impeached and removed for trying to trade arms to Ukraine in exchange for political dirt on the ludicrous right-wing Democratic-presidential clown-car candidate Joe Biden. Washington and the U.S. electorate are torn by fanatical partisan polarization. Nine in ten Democrats think Trump committed an impeachable offense regarding Ukraine but just 18.5% of Republicans, less than one in five, agree.

Impeachment is nearly certain [2] in the U.S. House of Representatives since the House is controlled by Democrats.  Removal is unlikely in the U.S. Senate because the upper chamber of Congress is run by Republicans, who will argue that Trump’s abuse of power does not rise to the level required for defenestration. The neofascistic “heartland” Trumpenvolk is ready to respond to removal and perhaps even to impeachment with armed attacks, encouraged by a malignantly narcissistic and authoritarian president who has “warned” of (threatened to spark) “Civil War….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office.”

Trump’s well-documented and ham-fisted attempt to bribe and extort political assistance from Ukraine is worthy of impeachment and removal.  But by focusing narrowly on Biden-Burisma-Gate, the Democrats are essentially exonerating Trump on numerous other graver, impeachment- and removal-worthy offenses including the separation of migrant children from their parents at the southern U.S. border, the detention of tens of thousands of migrant children and families in for profit concentration camps, the instruction for the U.S. Border Patrol to violate the law, the breach of international asylum law, the declaration of a fake national emergency to criminally divert taxpayer funds to the building of a widely hated Nativist Wall, the acceleration of Ecocide (the biggest issue of our or any time), and – of special relevance to this essay and current events in Bolivia (see below) – the eager support Trump granted an attempted right-wing coup to overthrow the democratically elected left-populist (Chavista-socialist) Maduro government in Venezuela last Winter.  Regarding the last transgression, here is a thoroughly reasonable Article of Impeachment, one of many drafted by the activist group Roots Action:

“In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States …On the evening of January 22, 2019, following years of damaging U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, which followed an unsuccessful 2002 U.S.-supported coup attempt, Vice President Pence called Juan Guaidó and told him that the United States would support him if he were to seize power in Venezuela. The next day, January 23, Guaidó attempted to do so. That same day, President Trump issued a statement recognizing Guaidó as the President of Venezuela, despite the fact that Venezuela had an elected president and that Guaidó had no legitimate claim to the presidency. On January 24, 2019, the Trump-Pence administration attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the Organization of American States to recognize Guaidó as president…In the above and related actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael Richard Pence…are guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.”

Sadly, it is unthinkable that the Democratic Party establishment would give a second thought to impeaching Trump for his support of a criminal right-wing putsch in Venezuela.  That’s because top Democrats are on board with Republicans in believing that independent and socialist-leaning governments representing the interests of poor and working-class Latin Americans need to make way for regimes more compliant to the commands of Washington and Western financial institutions and corporations.

Bolivia Right Now: “We Can’t Botch This Like We Did Venezuela”

Few Democrats beyond a handful of progressive outliers like Bernie Sanders have had the basic human and democratic decency to denounce the vicious racist and neofascist coup that removed Bolivia’s democratically elected socialist and Indigenous president Evo Morales from power eleven days ago. Anyone with Internet access can see graphic footage of a massacre in which peaceful Indigenous protesters in Cochabamba were murdered by snipers in military helicopters defending a “transitional government” headed by an evangelical neofascist who has tweeted the following: “I dream of a Bolivia free of indigenous satanic rituals, the city is not for the Indians send them to the high plains or to the Chaco!”

True to his own racist, neofascistic, and oligarchic colors, Trump grotesquely hailed the gruesome Bolivian coup for bringing the world “one step closer to a completely free, prosperous, and democratic Western hemisphere.”

Where have the Ukraine-Russia- and impeachment-obsessed Democrats been on the Trump-backed fascist-racist Bolivian coup? Missing in action, for the most part, beyond the progressive margins occupied by Sanders et al. “Since Morales’ forced resignation,” the left commentator Jacob Sugerman notes, “the response of leading Democrats and presidential hopefuls has been one of almost total silence, even among the party’s putative progressives. Liberal Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) chillingly tweeted that “the U.S. needs to support a civilian-led transition of power at a perilous moment. We can’t botch this like we did Venezuela.’’ A hideous statement given the fact that the United States recently backed yet another failed right-wing coup in Venezuela, as it did in 2002!

“The Western Media Can Barely Conceal Their Adulation”

The “liberal media” hasn’t been much better. “For all the supposed threat Trump represents and the enthusiasm sparked by his possible impeachment,” Fairness and Accuracy in Media (FAIR) reports. “Western media continue to march lockstep behind his administration’s coups in Latin America. Bolivia has a new US-backed puppet leader,” FAIR notes after surveying the “liberal” U.S. and European press, “and the Western media can hardly conceal their adulation” (emphasis added). The New York Times, the Guardian, and other leading Western papers portray to the coup regime as merely “conservative,” downplaying its fascist essence and the horrific violence it is employing while purveying the coup regime’s false claim that Morales corruptly stole his re-election last October 25th.

While the major television networks have kept millions of U.S. eyeballs glued to the House Democrats’ often compelling Biden-Burisma impeachment drama (“Insane in the Ukraine”), a U.S.- backed fascist coup regime in the Americas – in Bolivia – is massacring people in plain sight with bipartisan U.S. approval. What percentage of US-Americans know about this atrocity? (probably less than 0.3%). Like so many other hideous crimes at home and abroad, the neofascist coup and repression are not considered newsworthy on US television. The Indigenous Bolivians being shot through the skull by fascist forces in military helicopters are classic examples of what Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman called “officially unworthy victims” in U.S. mass media. They are insidiously invisible to all but a few U.S.-Americans.

“Two Wings of the Same Bird of Prey”

It is all so very neo-Cold War.  While the “liberal” U.S. media and political class claims to care passionately about liberty and democracy in Eastern Europe (though never explains what right Washington has to meddle in the political and military affairs of Eastern Europe, on the historically explosive western border of nuclear-armed Russia), it couldn’t care less about freedom, democracy and social justice in its own hemisphere, where Latin Americans are expected to take direction for Washington and its allies among the most reactionary sections of the Latin American ruling class — or face bloody repression.

This is not merely a matter of bad information and oversight or distraction by impeachment.  It’s about the imperialist Democratic Party’s longstanding opposition to true national independence, social justice, and democracy in Latin America (and in other “Third World” locations) since the Woodrow Wilson presidency and before.  As far as Latin American independence and social justice fighters have long been concerned have long been concerned, the Democrats and Republicans are very much as Upton Sinclair described them in the original Appeal to Reason version of The Jungle: “two wings of the same bird of prey.” For all their partisan tumult in the imperial “homeland” today, Sinclair’s metaphor still fits U.S. policy towards Latin America and indeed the rest of the world – Ukraine included[3]

Endnotes.

1. The fake-progressive corporate imperialist Barack Obama summarized part of the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy establishment consensus in his nauseating, stealthily right-wing 2006 campaign book The Audacity of Hope. There Obama ripped “left-leaning populists” like “Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez” for daring to think that developing nations “should resist America’s efforts to expand its hegemony” and for trying to “follow their own path to development.”  Such supposedly dysfunctional “reject[ion] [of] the ideals of free markets and liberal democracy” will only worsen the situation of the global poor, Obama claimed (p. 315), ignoring a preponderance of evidence of showing that the imposition of the “free market” corporate-neoliberal “Washington Consensus” had deepened poverty across the world for decades.

2. The United States Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is helping end doubt about the likelihood of Trump’s impeachment as I am writing this essay on the morning of Wednesday, November 20th, 2019. Sondland is testifying to the House that Trump conditioned arms shipments to Ukraine on Ukraine’s new president publicly announcing an investigation into Biden and the Ukrainian gas company Burisma in the spring and summer of this year. Sondland is also noting numerous efforts by the Trump administration to criminally obstruct the House impeachment inquiry.

3. Trump is being impeached (though probably not removed) for interjecting his personal political interests into U.S. imperial policy in Eastern Europe. But, with all due respect for Trump’s strange and suspicious attraction to Vladimir Putin, the two major U.S. political parties share the brazen imperial notion that the Superpower United States has some special God- and/or history-ordained global-exceptionalist entitlement to be centrally involved in political and military affairs on nuclear-armed Russia’s volatile western border, on nuclear-armed China’s borders, in the super-volatile Middle East, and indeed in practically every part of the planet.

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Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders Back Ecuador Anti-IMF Protests

“Let’s give a shout out to those people in Ecuador that are standing up against what the IMF are doing to their economy and their people”

By Telesur

U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have both sent messages of solidarity to the recent anti-IMF protests in Ecuador, which have succeeded in forcing the government to scrap a controversial austerity decree.

“Let’s give a shout out to those people in Ecuador that are standing up against what the IMF are doing to their economy and their people,” said leftist opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whilst at a rally with supporters, in anticipation of an upcoming election.

Progressive presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also celebrated the movement in Ecuador.

 “I applaud Ecuador’s Indigenous-led grassroots movements who stood up to repression and blocked the IMF’s austerity agenda. Economic elites keep pushing austerity worldwide, making life unbearable for working people. The U.S. should stop supporting this,” Sanders said in a tweet.

Both Sanders and Corbyn have fiercely opposed austerity drives in their own countries. With Sanders highlighting growing inequality in the U.S. and calling for universal, publicly funded healthcare.

Meanwhile, Corbyn has made nationalization of public utilities and investment in public housing a central theme in the run-up to a possible election that many are expecting to be held after the due date for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on Oct. 31

The anti-austerity movement in Ecuador, led by Indigenous groups, succeeded in forcing the government to scrap decree 883 which withdrew fuel subsidies, and which protesters say would have triggered a huge rise in the cost of living. The decree was issued as part of an economic package in line with recommendations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of a $4 billion-loan deal.

However, though the government was forced to back down on the decree, they have doubled down on accusations that former leftist President Rafael Correa had orchestrated the uprising and has begun arresting the leaders of his party.

Posted in USA, Ecuador, UKComments Off on Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders Back Ecuador Anti-IMF Protests

The Long Coup in Ecuador

By Fabio Resmini

Elected on a progressive platform, the Moreno government has resorted to the politicization of justice and the militarization of politics to repress its former allies and constituents.

***

Ecuador is facing some of its darkest days. The country is trapped with a highly unpopular president who has betrayed his mandate and proved his willingness to shed blood to implement a conservative economic agenda. Last October, the Moreno government unleashed a wave of repression to stifle widespread opposition to IMF-dictated policies.

Since taking office and after forcing a split within the ruling party Alianza PaísLenín Moreno has handed the state back to the powerful left-outs of Rafael Correa’s government. He used his mandate to subvert democratic institutions, persecute the opposition, and bring back the old neoliberal model to Ecuador, all in the name of the descorreización of the country. This has gained him the support of big business, the right-wing sector, the private media, and the U.S. government, who are not willing to let him go easily.

The Rule of Unconstitutionality

To push forward its agenda, the Moreno government has often disregarded the constitution. The first instance was the referendum held in February 2018 without the approval of the Constitutional Court, which kick-started the purge and ad hoc designation of state authorities, including the Attorney General and the Constitutional Court itself.

The capture of the judiciary did not rid the political system of all the obstacles to a neoliberal restoration. For this reason, the agreement signed with the International Monetary Fund was riddled with unconstitutional details. Apart from contradicting domestic regulations on monetary policy and fiscal deficit, the agreement bypassed the Assembly and the Constitutional Court. This violates articles 419 and 438 of the constitution and deprives the agreement of any democratic legitimacy.

The Moreno government employed unconstitutional measures to meet the protests against the economic policies imposed by the IMF. The state of exception that the government declared on October 3 and October 8 presented a number of serious legal flaws. Most importantly, it lacked constitutional backup for four days. This legal vacuum exposed the citizenry to a worrisome state of defenselessness and gave the government leeway to crack down on the protesters.

Repression, Militarization of Politics, and Delegitimization of Protests

For 12 days, Ecuador witnessed extensive repression by state forces. Official numbers of the Ombudsman Office talk about eleven dead, 1,340 wounded, and 1,192 arrested—96 of which were below 15 years of age. Eighty percent of all detentions was said to be arbitrary and illegal. Data on missing persons was not made available.

Brutality from the police and the armed forces was systematic and widespread. Repression targeted hospitals, universities, and shelters, where children and elders were resting at night. Armed forces used live ammo, grenades, and expired tear gas bombs. Citizens have denounced torture, illegal detentions, and trials in military quarters. The night of October 11, explosions around the El Arbolito park, where the vast majority of protesters gathered, were heard all over northern Quito. The next day, the exasperated population took to the streets in all neighborhoods and the government called a curfew at 3 PM. When the protesters defied the measure, the level of state violence increased. Protesters were shot at and some reported the presence of snipers. All of this while the government insisted that it was open to dialogue.Ecuadorean General Strike Wins Concession on Fuel Subsidies

The official narrative centered on the denial of the reasons of the protests and the normalization of state violence. The president on different occasions accused Correa, Maduro, the ELN, the FARC, and the Latin Kings—a former gang that evolved into a legalized cultural organization in Ecuador—of being behind the demonstrations in an attempt to overthrow the government. Anti-Correa propaganda was transmitted on mandatory nationwide broadcast with the double aim of reducing the protests to acts of vandalism and blaming the opposition of golpismo.

Various actors used media exposure to directly threaten the population and call for more heavy-handed use of force. Minister of Defense Oswaldo Jarrín on national television warned that the armed forces would use lethal weapons and reminded everyone that they had experience in war-like scenarios. One journalist from the TV channel Teleamazonas reinforced this narrative and asked for the use of the whole military arsenal to quash the protests.

Politicians close to the government added fuel to the fire. Former presidential candidate and banker Guillermo Lasso, defeated by Moreno in the 2017 elections, complained of the excessive softness of the police and armed forces in dealing with the protesters. Similarly, former Guayaquil mayor Jaime Nebot and current mayor Cynthia Viteri resorted to war-like racist rhetoric to call for the defense of the city from a supposed invasion.

The Media Siege

Throughout the protests, traditional media outlets combined echoing of the official discourse with blatant censorship. The blackout on the events was near complete, and the scant coverage obscured anti-government, anti-IMF socioeconomic nature of the protests. While the country was in turmoil, TV channels offered entertainment programs. There have been various instances of journalists in the streets abruptly cutting off the interview when citizens expressed views not aligned with the government.

The government also cracked down on the few outlets detailing the protests. Public radio Pichincha Universal was pulled off-air and all its equipment was confiscated on accusations of inciting unrest. The next day, it was shut down and forced to retransmit the programming of the government’s public radio. The radio station had been denouncing harassment before. Telesur’s signal was also cut off without notice during curfew in Quito on October 12. The government had also been accused before of harassing other non-aligned outlets, such as Ecuadorinmediato.

The siege was partly broken by the excellent work of digital outlets such as Voces, Wambra, La Kolmena, KolectiVOZ, and many others, who helped disseminate information about the protests online. They are now the target of government harassment. Furthermore, the activist group critical of the government, La Kolmena, has also experienced anonymous threats. Unable to censor social media and limit the influence of independent media participation, the government appeared to engage in the disruption of mobile internet in crucial moments of the mobilizations.

Correista Witch Hunt

The sociopolitical chaos and the ensuing truce have given the government the chance to further damage the correista opposition. Selective political persecution of the previous government began two years ago with the removal from office and incarceration of vice-president Jorge Glas through faulty process. Since then, other important figures such as Rafael Correa, former minister Ricardo Patiño, and legal adviser Alexis Mera have been put on trial with various accusations.

Hours after Moreno reached an agreement to end the protests, Paola Pabón, governor of the province of Pichincha—where Quito is located—was taken into custody. The police raided her house at dawn without court order, and she was incarcerated without any evidence supporting detention. She was later accused of supporting armed rebellion together with two assistants. The offices of the Pichincha government were also raided a few days later. The Attorney General formulated the same charges against former congressman Virgilio Hernández.

Other political figures of the opposition were detained during the mobilizations and another seven of them, including former President of the Assembly Gabriela Rivadeneira, have received asylum in the Mexican embassy.

These cases demonstrate a lack of respect for due process. The Attorney General’s office is currently tweeting pictures of the supposed evidence found in police raids in complete violation of the principle of objectivity and the presumption of innocence. Through its Twitter account, the Attorney General’s office has also announced that it is working together on these cases with the U.S. Embassy in Quito.

The activism of the Attorney General against corruption, disruption of public service, and incitement to violence has been focused on the opposition. The evidence for corruption against Moreno and the block of public transit ordered by Guayaquil mayor Cynthia Viteri have not yet led to charges.

The Government That Won’t Fall

Considering the betrayal of its mandate and massive popular rejection, it is striking how the Moreno government has managed to hang onto power. This is all the more unusual in a country like Ecuador, where—before Correa’s tenure—presidential removal was routine.

This, however, is a different story. While in the past presidents were removed largely as a result of oligarchic infighting with limited redistributive consequences, this time the oligarchy is united behind Moreno. The restoration of the old economic model benefitting the few, largely dismantled by Correa during his presidency, is now at stake.

In addition, Moreno has found an important ally in the U.S. government. The permission to use the Galapagos Islands as a U.S. military airfield, the finishing blow to UNASUR, the delivery of Julian Assange, and the agreement with the IMF were all appreciated in Washington. Most importantly, the United States knows that the return of Correa would mean losing their influence in the country.

For these reasons, Correa is still considered a threat. He is yet to be defeated at the polls and received a high level of endorsement in the last provincial and municipal elections. That is why the constitutional solution to the crisis—the so-called muerte cruzada with anticipated elections—was always available but never pursued.

Moreno is now doing the dirty work with tax waivers and reckless economic reforms accompanied by extensive repression and annihilation of correista forces. He is unlikely to run again and therefore has no political capital to safeguard. Moreno is disposable, but in the middle of this process of reform and repression, absolutely irreplaceable. His fall would mean going to elections while the extinction of correismo is far from over.

Posted in EcuadorComments Off on The Long Coup in Ecuador

Peace Restored in Ecuador. But Is Trust Restored?

By Nino Pagliccia

Global Research,

After ten people were reported killed on the streets of Ecuador, together with about 2,000 people injured and a large number imprisoned, an agreement was reached between the Lenin Moreno government and protesters against a controversial Decree 883 that had the footprint of the neoliberal austerity policies of the IMF.

For the time being the “dialogue” that lead to the derogation of the decree has defused the danger of an escalation of the general strike that was looming over the Moreno administration. But for how long?

It was a matter of time before the situation in Ecuador reached the point of political tension experienced in the last few weeks. The people of Ecuador have massively organised protests in rejection of the economic policies taken by the Lenin Moreno government at the beginning of October; protests that have been met by government  imposed military curfew and repression.

The tipping point has been decree 883 that forced a series of measures such as removal of subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels deregulating their price, which caused a price increase of 20 percent up to more than 100 percent. Other costs were in turn affected together with everything that relies on transportation like food. Additional aspects of the decree included the elimination of import duties and the lay-off of thousands of public employees. This was viewed as part of a set of austerity measures imposed on the country by the IMF, which Ecuadoreans referred to as “paquetazo” (big package). In exchange, the Moreno government was to receive more than $4 billion from the IMF at the same time that it exonerated corporations from paying a similar amount in overdue taxation. 

The reaction has been immediate led by thousands of indigenous people from all provinces of Ecuador represented, among other groups, by the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador, CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador). This is important to emphasise because there has been an obvious attempt to discredit this genuine movement suggesting that Rafael Correa was behind it with the intention of triggering a coup. CONAIE made it a point to distance themselves from Correa.Sell Out: How Corruption, Voter Fraud and a Neoliberal Turn Led Ecuador’s President Moreno to Give Up Assange

Support for Moreno came promptly and more directly from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a group of former Latin American presidents who issued a declaration denouncing “foreign-induced acts of people’s violence” naming  specifically Venezuela’s “dictatorship” and its “ally” the FARC. All in the attempt to politicise a genuine popular reaction and, in so doing, defend the sole culprits, the Lenin Moreno administration plus the IMF.

Lenin Moreno won the presidential elections of 2017 for the centre-left PAIS Alliance Party. He was Correa’s vice president and was considered the natural choice for the continuation of what was mostly a progressive government with a considerable support by Ecuadoreans.

However, after he became president Lenin Moreno soon started showing signs of straying from the previous administration, which was seen by many as a betrayal of everything he was elected for. It is not clear if his was a planned deceit or if there were any contributing circumstances including political pressure. But his quick turn around that initially came as a surprise, showed an aggressive motive with accusations of corruption of former president Rafael Correa.  He appointed several judges in the judiciary that would have ensured a prosecution. Consequently, Correa opted to leave the country becoming an opposition voice against his former vice president. Moreno’s appointments would also guarantee that he could not be prosecuted since after all he was part of the Correa administration for ten years. He soon established close ties with Washington that included purchases of military equipment and granting rights to “U.S. anti-drug overflights to land in the environmentally sensitive Galapagos Islands.”

The deal reached last October 13 between Lenin Moreno’s government and leaders of the indigenous people, represented by CONAIE’s president Jaime Vargas, was mediated by the UN and the Catholic church. Decree 883 was revoked and a commission to include indigenous reps will write a new proposal to replace it. This was quite a change of position from the embattled Moreno of a few days prior who had emphatically announced that he would not withdraw the decree. But the deepest moral divide was noted when Moreno shockingly stated in an interview: “with all respect for human life, but I believe that the dignity of a state is much more than that.” The lack of sensitivity for indigenous people’s dignity was not ignored by the protesters who stated that the lost lives would rest on his conscience.

Street celebrations followed the announcement of the deal that was seen as a major victory not only for indigenous people but also for all Ecuadoreans. It was certainly a victory for peace. But this needs to be a cautious celebration. Has trust been restored? Can Ecuadoreans rely on a government that betrayed them since the elections of 2017? Only time will tell.

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Indigenous Rising in Ecuador and International Solidarity

By Kasim Tirmizey

Global Research,

While many Canadians were celebrating Thanksgiving weekend, events in Ecuador generally did not catch media attention. After 11 days of an indigenous-led national general strike and state repression, an agreement was achieved by both parties on the night of October 13th that reversed one aspect of the paquetazo (package) of austerity measures. Those events seem very disconnected with the rhythms of life in Canada, but in many ways there are significant connections. Further, while the general strike has been called off, there is an important need to build or revitalize movements of international solidarity at the contemporary conjuncture.

From October 3rd to 13th tens of thousands of people under the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) organized a national general strike. This action centered on paralyzing the country’s capital, Quito, but protests, blockades, and occupation of public spaces and government buildings occurred across multiple sites in the country. Such an intensive and extensive movement was possible because of the widespread mobilization among the country’s various indigenous nations.

The general strike was called in response to austerity measures taken by the Ecuadorian government as part of conditionalities of signing a $4.2-billion loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Government reforms included the removal of subsidies on gasoline prices (Decree 883), that temporary contracts be renewed with a 20% reduction in wages, and public employees be no longer given 30 days of vacation but 15 days. An anti-austerity movement coalesced through the leadership of the CONAIE and brought together student, feminist, environmental justice, and labour movements. In addition, there have been solidarity actions across the world, including La Paz, Buenos Aires, Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, México, Paris, Montreal and New York. Actions in several places included protests outside of the offices of Ecuadorian embassies and consulates.

Cracking Down on Protesters

The Ecuadorian state, under president Lenin Moreno, responded to these protests by declaring a state of exception, which gave significant liberty to the armed forces to repress protesters and censor media critical of the government. From the 3rd to 13th of October, 1192 protesters were detained, 8 were killed, and 1340 injured.1 It has to be remembered that the state repression was unprecedented when considering the immediate past. The previous national indigenous uprisings of 1990, 1994, 1997, and 2000 did not witness such brute force. In the present struggle, this has included the military and police terrorizing indigenous men, women, and children who received refuge in Quito’s universities by throwing tear gas bombs. The armed forces invaded indigenous communal territories in the middle of the night and rounded up their leadership. In multiple cases protesters were beaten, tortured, and trampled upon.

During the dialogue between the CONAIE and the government, Miriam Cisneros, the presidenta of the Sarayaku community in the Amazon, spoke with strength directly to the President:

Photo of Miriam Cisneros, president of the community of Sarayaku. Translation: “I don’t feel alone because this struggle has been alongside the mestizo, afro, and indigenous communities. We have struggled together. We demand that our sisters detained in the prison be liberated, and that our leaders no longer be persecuted when this is over.” Photo Credit: CONAIE.

“Our brothers and sisters have died. This means that our president [of Ecuador] has sent men with arms to kill when we come as a non-violent movement. We have left our children in the jungle [to come to Quito] without knowing that they are eating well. Instead, we have passed 12 days on the streets, Mr. President. […] Our sisters have suffered by being stepped on and beaten by the police and military. Last night when we were staying at the Casa de la Cultura,2 they were not compassionate with us, Mr. President. Doesn’t it hurt you to know that the military and police comes to confront women and children? This is what I have come to tell you as an Amazonica woman, Mr. President. I hope that these assassinations remain in your conscious.”

The power of the general strike was first felt when the government temporarily shifted the seat of its power from Quito to Guayaquil, an important commercial port city that has in the recent past been dominated by conservative forces. And then on October 13th, the government agreed to meet the demand of the CONAIE to remove Decree 883. While much of the Ecuadorian media has focused on the question of the removal of gasoline subsidies for consumers, the CONAIE has emphasized that this movement goes beyond the question of gasoline prices as such.

The national general strike was provoked by IMF conditionalities and this frames the recent direct actions. The movement is confronting how government reforms will further exasperate unequal social relations into the future. On the seventh day of the national general strike the CONIAE wrote:

“The capitalist class sells our homeland and is pro-imperialist, they want to secure the loans of the International Monetary Fund so that their debts and economic crisis is paid by the working class, the indigenous people, and the popular sectors.

“This fight is not only about the conditions of today, nor is it just about the price of gasoline. Our struggle is to prevent that they mortgage our future, such that our next two and three generations will pay with more hunger and poverty for what we didn’t stop today.”3

Austerity and Dispossession

The neoliberal project represented in the austerity paquetazo is also a colonial project. It is difficult not to think about these actions without remembering that 527 years ago on October 12th was the beginning of colonialism in the Americas.4 Contemporary social stratification is a product of historical processes of organizing society based on racial categories (e.g. white, mestizo, indigenous, black). These processes are still ongoing, but through less explicit mechanisms. During the national general strike, the Ecuadorian government and a section of the white elite and mestizo middle class delegitimized the movement through racist discourse. For example, Jaime Nebot, the mayor of Guayaquil, questioned why indigenous people were invading the cities when their place in society were the highlands (paramo). The general image in Ecuadorian society was that the “indian,” the “savage,” had no place in urban civilized life and their presence was an unnecessary inconvenience.

Jaime Vargas, president of CONAIE. “The country is being governed by the Right and the IMF”. Photo Credit: CONAIE.

But, the issue is more then just words, as this discourse develops consensus around social organization on the basis of racial hierarchies. Indigenous people’s experience of neoliberalization has been the loss of land and environmental damage through further mining and oil exploration in their territories against their consent. The CONAIE has emphasized that at issue is the liberalization of the economy for the benefit of national and transnational capital that includes the ongoing dispossession of indigenous peoples. During the dialogue process with the government, CONIAE president Jaime Vargas emphasized that “the country is being governed by right-wing forces and the IMF.” All efforts are being made by the current government to maintain the rate of profit of the capitalist class by violently reducing the compensation received for the labour of indigenous people, peasants, and workers. Just as neoliberalization is part of a colonial-capitalist project, this indigenous-led movement against the IMF and the Ecuadorian government is anti-colonial and anti-capitalist.

The CONAIE outlined in a recent report how displacement, dispossession, and exploitation are the mechanisms for violently accumulating more by compensating people less:

“The Government has launched permanent public campaigns to position the so-called ‘benefits’ of mining and extractivism among corporate media, such as El Comercio and Televistazo, and with the support of government institutions. This is all the while advancing the dispossession of the territories and suffering among the population. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

  1. The imposition of the oil concession of block 28 in the province of Pastaza.
  2. Conflicts over the start of mining in the subtropical zones of the Cotopaxi and Bolívar provinces, in Intag (on the border between the provinces of Imbabura and Pichincha) and in Río Blanco (Molleturo, Azuay province).
  3. The beginning of the exploitation phase of mining concessions in the Cordillera del Cóndor and Shuar territory.
  4. The abuses by the shrimp companies in the area of the Gulf of Guayaquil and on the Puná Island against their workers and against the adjacent communes that were previously stripped of their territories.
  5. The persecution of labour leaders in the banana sector and the covering up the abuses committed among workers on large landholdings (haciendas).”5

The Moreno government was able to convince international funding institutions to provide Ecuador with a loan by demonstrating that the country was open for mining exploitation by foreign companies. The IMF advised the Ecuadorian government to change their tax regime to favour mining companies.6

Acción Ecológica, an Ecuadorian environmental justice NGO, has argued that:

“The agreement with the IMF implies that the country’s debt will be financed through mining and petroleum exploitation, thus exasperating the extractivist model, aggravated by economic measures that generate greater poverty to the Ecuadorian people and destroying nature.”7

As part of the IMF austerity package, the Ministries of Production and Agriculture announced that import tariffs would be reduced between 50 and 100% for 200 products that include raw materials and capital goods for the agricultural sector. While this appears as providing benefits to small-scale peasants by reducing the cost of agricultural inputs, the reality is that this liberalization only benefits capital-intensive, large-scale, and export-oriented agro-businesses, and transnational agricultural and food corporations. The effect of this measure is that the government is subsidizing capitalist agriculture.8

The Local Struggles and International Solidarity

The indigenous-led anti-austerity movement forced the government to revoke the executive decree removing petroleum subsidies. This is indeed a major victory given that peasants and workers would have otherwise seen an increase in the cost of living. It also reversed a trend that forced working people to pay for the country’s debt and subsidize national and transnational capital. Yet, the other aspects of the austerity paquetazo remain intact. Acción Ecológica has argued that what is behind the austerity measures are the expanding mining, petroleum and agro-business frontiers. They call for struggling against this expansion to get at the root of the austerity project.9

In this sense, the struggle is not over. Indigenous communities in the Amazon continue to resist the expansion of the frontiers of petroleum exploitation. Banana workers continue to fight for better working conditions. The struggle continues since the IMF package enables the continued dispossession and exploitation of working people by national and transnational capital. Given the international connections that are embedded in the IMF package, a corresponding international response of solidarity with the struggles of indigenous people, workers, and peasants is necessary. In the Canadian context, given that the country’s mining companies are significant players in Ecuador and are set to benefit from the IMF package, it is imperative for international solidarity groups in Canada to make these links.

The uncontrolled military force that repressed the national general strike is a signal of the increasing authoritarian character in defense of imperialist interests and capitalist development in the region, from Brazil to Colombia. It should be remembered that the recent authoritarian neoliberal moment builds upon the history of colonialism. That there was little global denunciation of state violence is another reason why movements for international solidarity need to organize.

Acknowledgments: I want to thank Gladys Calvopiña for feedback and comments. The cited texts are my own translations from Spanish. All errors are my own.

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Ecuador’s masses rise up against neoliberal policies

By Kim Barzola

Ecuador’s masses rise up against neoliberal policies

Photo: Telesur

On October 2, Lenín Moreno, President of Ecuador, signed a series of economic austerity measures to drastically cut back on social spending in order to access a 4.2 billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund. The Decree 883 eliminates state funded fuel subsidies, a staple program for the past 45 years, as well as major cuts to public sector salaries, benefits and pensions. The prices of gas, the major fuel source across the country, immediately spiked up over 123 percent unleashing a wave of protests in response to calls from major trade unions and transport workers to strike just one day after the measures were announced. 

With high fuel prices affecting Ecuador’s most poor and working class most sharply, thousands of working people came out to the streets of Quito, the nation’s capital, calling for the reinstatement of the fuel subsidy. However, support for the protests and outcry over the decree quickly swelled to encompass a broad front of student, labor, and political organizations, including Citizen’s Revolution, the United Front of Workers (FUT), and indigenous organizations like the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador (CONAIE). Demands quickly widened beyond concerns of the hike in fuel costs. By early last week, a wholesale rejection of all the measures in the decree also known as “El Paquetazo” culminated in a call for a national strike this past Wednesday. The tens of thousands of people of Ecuador made clear that their country will not be sold off to foreign powers at the expense of the poor and oppressed. 

A rightward shift

Decree 883 was the catalyst for Ecuador’s ongoing mass mobilizations, and yet another example of a stark rightward shift in Ecuador under President Moreno. Decree 883 closely resembles the neoliberal policies held by the country prior to the election of Rafael Correa in 2007. Under Correa, the country began to improve substantially, with poverty decreasing from 37.6 percent to 22.5 percent nationally. The GINI coefficient, a measure of economic inequality fell, from .54 to .47. as reported by the World Bank, signaling a decrease in wealth disparities. 

Regionally, Correa aligned Ecuador with countries such as Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela – all major players of the Bolivarian Revolution, championed by the late Hugo Chavez. They oriented themselves towards socialist construction and the creation of a progressive bloc in Latin America which refused to bow to the demands of U.S. economic and military power.

After Correa stepped down in 2017, his former vice president, Lenín Moreno, took office. Not soon after, it quickly became clear that Moreno’s government was not only uninterested in continuing to improve the conditions of Ecuador for working people, but was aligning itself with foreign imperial powers and appeasing the demands of the United States and its allies. This was notably evident when in April, Moreno allowed UK officials to remove Julian Assange, co-founder of Wikileaks, from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he sought political asylum. He now serves a 50 week sentence and the U.S. government has already begun its case of extradition for his role in releasing documents that exposed the criminal actions of the U.S. ruling class. This move prompted a denouncement of Moreno’s administration by Correa calling his actions a betrayal to the country and the entire region. 

Moreno’s cooperation with the IMF, an institution that continues the historic process of underdevelopment of countries in the Global South as well as recent affirmations of support from the Organization of American States for Moreno’s government will continue to create the conditions for the mass mobilizations and political unrest seen today.

Government repression and retreat

In an attempt to quell the growing consciousness around the impact of the austerity measures, Moreno declared a nation-wide state of emergency for 30 days on October 3, ushering in increased police and military repression with the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against protesters in Quito. Independent progressive media outlets have also increasingly been a target of the government which has thwarted access to signals and the internet. Radio Pichincha Universal, a radio station providing consistent coverage on the protests and reports on the police brutality faced by protesters, was shut down by Ecuadorian state police on behalf of the Attorney General’s office citing “attempt to sow disaccord” amongst citizens of the country. This was yet another attempt by Ecuador’s ruling class to stifle mobilizations and break up crucial communication across major cities and states.

Despite these efforts, by October 7, Moreno’s government was forced to move their operations from Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil. This decision which was quickly followed by the occupation of the Congress building by protesters, signaling Moreno’s rapidly weakening legitimacy. 

The movement spreads

Across the world, the Ecuadorian people’s refusal to accept the IMF austerity measures has inspired international solidarity from indigenous and Ecuadorian diaspora communities in places including England, Mexico, and the United States. On October 8 in New York City, colloquially known to some as “Ecuayork”, members of Chicha Radical, and Kichwa Hatari, a Kichwa community radio station, alongside other supporters held a demonstration outside the IMF buildings in solidarity with the people of Ecuador and the national strike echoing the calls to reverse the decree and reject the IMF loan in its entirety. 

Although Moreno has called for peaceful dialogue with protesters and leaders of CONAIE, the irony of this request is not lost on the people as government repression has continued throughout the day with the raiding of a cultural house and university in Quito where women and children were resting and the imposition of a 3 pm curfew as of October 12. The recent killing of indigenous leader Segundo Inocencio Tucumbi Incubio of the Cotopaxi province signifies the ongoing state violence towards the protesters, who according to the human rights watch group INREDH, was surrounded by police cavalry and beaten to death in an act of  “excessive repression.” 

Despite the mounting state sanctioned backlash and ongoing media war against protesters by private news outlets with close ties to Moreno and Ecuador’s ruling class, the people in the streets show no signs of backing down. While some are calling for new elections in January of 2020, the vast majority of those in the streets have vowed to stay until all of Moreno’s economic measures are all reversed as seen in this excerpt from an October 11 statement by CONAIE: 

”The dialogue that the National Government publicizes during this process of resistance which is also one of the worst massacres in the history of Ecuador, is an exacerbating violence reinforced by the public and military forces, with direct responsibility by the Government ministers of defense, Maria Paula Romo and Oswaldo Jarrin, who until this moment, leave us with 554 wounded, 929 detained, 5 dead and many others missing, which we understand as a crimes against humanity. We will be open to dialogue when the decree 883 is repealed.”

For those of us here in the United States, we must stand with Ecuador’s working class people who are fighting to reject institutions and solutions that reinforce and serve the imperialist ruling class. 

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