Film locations: Bellavista lodge, Alambi Birding garden, Refugio Paz de las Aves, San Tadeo Birding garden in Mindo , Mirador Rio Blanco in Los Bancos, El Descanso in Mindo, Antisana Reserve, Guango Lodge, San Isidro Lodge, Las Brisas birding garden.
Mass strikes and protests force Ecuador’s president to cancel austerity decree
16 October 2019
A mass protest movement of 12 days—involving mass marches by workers, indigenous peasants and students, three days of national strike, widespread roadblocks and the occupation of key oilfields—forced the US-backed administration of Lenín Moreno late Sunday to annul the elimination of fuel subsidies dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The decision does not mean IMF reforms are permanently off the table, only that the Ecuadorian ruling class, in league with US and European imperialism, is buying time to formulate a new strategy to enforce devastating austerity.
After Moreno’s announcement from the coastal city of Guayaquil where his government had retreated, the streets of the capital Quito turned from a battlefield into a mass celebration, with chants, music, caravans and fireworks celebrating the rescission of the measures after heavy sacrifices on the part of workers and peasants. In total, the repression left 8 people dead, 1,340 injured and 1,192 arrested, according to Ecuador’s Ombudsman Office.
On Tuesday, fuel prices, which had risen dramatically, were sliding back down. The agency in charge of transportation fees said it would meet to withdraw the recent hikes. Schools and the national congress re-opened after nearly two weeks closed, while the government said that all state-owned oilfields would resume operations this week. …
The workers and the toiling masses in Ecuador and internationally must use the breathing space to extract the sober lessons of this experience. This month’s events show that any struggle against social inequality and dictatorship must be based on the fight against imperialism and for the overthrow of the entire system of capitalist exploitation on an international scale. …
The repeal of “decree 883” eliminating fuel subsidies resulted after a round of talks between Moreno, his cabinet, and the indigenous leadership headed by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE), which was leading the protests in partnership with the trade unions and several opposition parties. …
Ahead of the talks Sunday, the US State Department released a statement condemning the protests as the “violent campaign underway, which erodes Ecuadorian people’s hard-earned prosperity and only benefits anti-democratic forces.” …
The mention of “anti-democratic forces” refers to Moreno’s claims that the mass protests were being backed by Rafael Correa
his predecessor as president, of whom Moreno during his election campaign promised to continue the leftist policies, before Moreno took a U-turn towards Donald Trump and the IMF, once elected
During the last two weeks, the US openly backed Moreno’s murderous state violence, a state of exception suspending democratic rights, the deployment of the army and curfews in the capital Quito and military control over “strategic” buildings, ports and bridges.
The extent to which ruling circles continue to move toward a fully-fledged dictatorship was revealed on Monday by the arrest of the pro-Correa politician Paola Pabón and the police raid of the headquarters of Correa’s Citizens Revolution party. Over the weekend, three opposition politicians and their partners were granted asylum by the Mexican embassy in Quito. Last week, civil rights groups were reporting that groups of demonstrators were being taken to Quito’s police barracks, while several reports and pictures on social media denounced government torture.
Moreover, Sputnik cited opposition politicians Friday who indicated that 13 journalists had been imprisoned and that the state “intervened” to crack down on nine media outlets. This included a police raid against Pichincha Universal for “inciting divisions”. On Saturday, the Venezuelan-linked TV channel TeleSUR was taken off air. Journalists were assaulted so brazenly by state forces that the government itself issued a condemnation. …
ECUADORIAN authorities were accused of a “set-up” on Tuesday after a leftist former parliamentarian was jailed on trumped-up charges of “rebellion” following last month’s anti-government protests: here.
Crackdown on protesters and opposition leaders in Ecuador gathers pace: here.
The victory was announced just before 10.00pm local time on Sunday.
Moreno will now withdraw the International Monetary Fund (IMF) package that triggered a sharp rise in the price of gasoline and diesel by removing subsidies. The crippling debt meant savage austerity, job cuts and steep hikes in food and fuel.
The uprising, headed by indigenous leaders, held a live nationally broadcast ‘negotiating session’ with Moreno, during which the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, demanded the immediate cancellation of Moreno’s October 1st decree ending fuel subsidies.
‘This isn’t a demand of the indigenous people, it’s the demand of the country,’ Vargas said. ‘We haven’t come to form negotiating commissions.’
A joint statement said the government had withdrawn the order removing the fuel subsidies.
‘With this agreement, the mobilisations … across Ecuador are terminated and we commit ourselves to restoring peace in the country,’ it said.
Government official Juan Sebastián Roldán said talks to start drafting a new law would start immediately.
Seven people died during the protests, more than 1,300 were injured, and 1,152 detained, according to official figures.
Protesters also took dozens of officers hostage in various locations throughout the country.
Indigenous-led protests have toppled three presidents in the past few decades.
But it was President Moreno himself who sparked the uprising by ending the $1.3bn (£1bn) annual fuel subsidy, claiming it was no longer affordable, and causing fuel prices to rocket by over 300%.
Moreno’s government sacked thousands of public sector workers, slashed public spending and removed the fuel subsidy, all as part of a loan deal agreed with the IMF in March, which allowed Ecuador to borrow $4.2bn (£3.4bn).
Protesters in Ecuador are celebrating after President Lenín Moreno agreed to end a measure raising fuel prices that triggered nearly 2 weeks of violent mass protests pic.twitter.com/fzwudUa8Qw
VIDEO: Indigenous protesters celebrate after the Ecuador government announces it has withdrawn an order that removed fuel subsidies that sparked two weeks of violent protests pic.twitter.com/dacg7ZLbio
BREAKING: After 11 days of protest, the Indigenous peoples of Ecuador have succeeded in repealing the IMF austerity measures signed into law by President @Lenin Moreno. This may be a victory for the Indigenous people of Ecuador, but neoliberalism still reigns in the country. https://t.co/O9dzpIfJTp
Five dead and almost 1,000 arrested as repression mounts in Ecuador
12 October 2019
Police state repression and casualties are mounting in Ecuador as mass protests continue against the IMF-dictated austerity package announced by the Lenín Moreno administration on October 1.
As the main component of the IMF deal involving a $4.2 billion loan, President Moreno eliminated fuel subsidies the following day, leading to a sharp increase in fuel prices and subsequent price hikes in other basic goods. This immediately triggered the protest movement, which has included intermittent national strikes called by the trade unions, widespread roadblocks and mass marches with tens of thousands of indigenous demonstrators, students and workers.
On Thursday evening, the Ombudsman Office of Ecuador confirmed that the repression has left five demonstrators killed, 554 injured, and 929 arrested. These numbers do not reveal the full brutality of the repression. Beyond tear gas and rubber bullets, police and military charges have included wild beatings and the running over of demonstrators with motorcycles.
Marcos Humberto Oto Rivera, a 26-year-old worker, and José Daniel Chaluisa Cusco, another young worker, both died on October 8 from their injuries after anti-riot police caused them to fall off a bridge in Quito where they had set up a roadblock. Oto’s brother told Wambra, “he was not a delinquent, he was a worker.”
On October 6, the demonstrator Raúl Chilpe died on October 6 in the Azuay province when a driver ran over a roadblock.
On October 9, Segundo Inocencio Tucumbi Vega, an 50-year-old indigenous leader from the Cotopaxi province, was reportedly surrounded by police cavalry and beaten to death on the head. According to the human rights group Inredh, he was killed by the “excessive repression carried out by the public forces” in Quito. During the same protests in the capital, another indigenous demonstrator from the same town of Pijulí, José Rodrigo Chaluisa, was also killed.
On Thursday, thousands of demonstrators, including students, workers and peasants, gathered in the Casa de la Cultura building in Ecuador to conduct a wake at the casket of Tucumbi Vega. At the event, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE) announced that it had captured ten police officers that morning as prisoners. Four of the officials were forced to carry the casket to the stage of the building.
Jaime Vargas, the CONAIE president, then appealed to the leadership of the armed forces to “join the people” and “don’t obey the orders of that traitor, liar and thief,” referring to Lenín Moreno.
After the funeral, the police officials were escorted by hundreds of demonstrators to downtown Quito where they were handed over to officials of the UN and the Ecuadorian Ombudsman’s Office.
In Pijulí, about 60 miles south of Quito, neighbors captured three officials at the police station on Thursday, with the Interior minister confirming Friday morning that they remain prisoners of the indigenous community. A video from the same town captured Thursday and confirmed by radio station Lacatunga showed indigenous demonstrators intercepting an ambulance and a motorcycle carrying weapons, high-caliber munitions and tear gas cannisters.
According to El País, 47 soldiers who invaded the indigenous community of Cochapamba in the same Cotopaxi province were captured and remain detained inside of the church “until the repression stops” and the “brothers arrested” are freed.
This follows the capture of 50 soldiers and five police officials between Saturday and Monday in the southern Azuay province and the takeover of several power plants and oilfields in the northeast since the weekend, forcing the Ministry of Energy to shut down the country’s main pipeline on Tuesday.
David Cordero, a human rights lawyer of Inredh reported that dozens of detainees are being held in police barracks in Quito, presenting the danger of disappearances and torture. RT reported that the Ecuadorian police raided the headquarters of the Pichincha Universal radio station for “inciting divisions”.
These developments highlight the dangers facing Ecuadorian workers, youth and peasants. The Ecuadorian ruling class, with the full support of Washington, is preparing to employ the same methods of repression used by the US-backed military dictatorship during the 1970s.
Without presenting any evidence, Lenín Moreno has claimed that ex-president Rafael Correa and Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro are financing and orchestrating a “coup”,
Moreno won a narrow victory in Ecuador’s election in April 2017. During his election, he called himself a ‘democratic socialist’. However, after his election he drastically shifted his political stance, distancing himself from ex-President Correa’s socialist legacy and viciously attacking the working class with massive cuts in living standards.
Moreno was also responsible for allowing the British police into the Ecuadorian embassy in west London to seize WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange is now languishing in Belmarsh prison and threatened with extradition to the US for exposing their war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Andrea Lobo article continues:
with the interior minister claiming Friday that 17 people—“mostly Venezuelans”—were arrested in Quito’s international airport “holding information about the movements of the President and Vice-President.”
These unfounded accusations are another confirmation that Moreno’s austerity and authoritarian policies reflect a shift of the Ecuadorian ruling class toward US imperialism.
While seeking a cover for Moreno’s violent repression, the allegations feed into the Trump administration’s narrative that the Maduro government is a threat to regional security and must be overthrown and a US puppet regime installed. Moreno also revealed his role as a stooge of the State Department by in April ending the asylum for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange by opening up the doors of the Ecuadorian embassy in London to a British police snatch squad.
The repression has unfolded in the context of a state of exception declared last week by Moreno, which involves the deployment of the military and the suspension of basic democratic rights. On Monday October 7, Moreno announced the unprecedented decision of moving the seat of the government from Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil, the traditional center of the Ecuadorian right. On Tuesday, he declared a curfew near “strategic zones” like government installations, ports and bridges.
The Moreno administration has since appealed to the UN, the public universities and the Catholic Church to mediate with the organizations leading the demonstrations, namely the CONAIE, the Workers United Front (FUT) trade union confederation, and the unions …
In a brief stunt Wednesday, Moreno returned to Quito and offered the “indigenous brothers” improvements in water infrastructure, bilingual schools and the cancellation of debts for peasant organizations. Protesters have bitterly dismissed this olive branch.
Julio César, a protester in Quito, told El País, “The country is mired in misery, and a hungry people is a people guided toward struggle.” A local indigenous leader, Rosa Torres, told the Spanish daily, “We will keep fighting until the government cancels its measures, if not it will have to be overthrown.”
The leaderships of the indigenous organizations … are scrambling to keep control over the increasingly radicalized protest movement by rejecting negotiations with Moreno until he cancels the austerity program.
Britain: ‘Lenin Moreno Hypocrite and traitor – the blood of the people is not negotiable,’ shouted over a hundred Ecuadorians and their supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Friday night: here.
Indigenous activists blocked several streets in Quito on Monday, demonstrating their rejection of the economic package announced by Lenin Moreno’s government.
Footage shows the activists from indigenous communities in the Guangopolo area east of Quito blocking roads with rocks, stones, tree trunks and barricades.
“Our comrades are coming from the south, from the north, from the centre; from the east and, [with them] comes the seizure of Quito. Comrades and [I give you] a suggestion, get water and food supplies,” said indigenous leader Sebastián Correa, adding, “we are willing to give our life.”
Streets surrounding the civic centre of the locality also remain without commercial activity, blocked off by fences and barbed wire. …
Ecuador is experiencing a wave of protests triggered by the announcement of the so-called ‘paquetazo’, a series of economic adjustment measures including the elimination of fuel subsidies. These measures, which are set to increase gasoline prices, reduce the salaries of public employees and raise taxes for some companies, have been met by protests across Ecuador. President Moreno has declared a 60-day state of emergency.
Ecuador’s president retreats from capital in face of growing mass protests
9 October 2019
In the face of a continuing strike and a mass indigenous mobilization against annIMF-dictated austerity package, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno moved his government from the capital of Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil, where he is now directing a police-state crackdown.
This retreat from Ecuador’s Andean capital, unprecedented in the country’s history, is a measure of the intensity of social and political unrest as Ecuador enters a second week of demonstrations against the draconian austerity program unveiled by the Moreno government on October 1.
On Tuesday, indigenous demonstrators marched through the streets of Quito and occupied the national congress as well as other government buildings.
Late on Tuesday, Moreno decreed a partial curfew near “strategic zones” like government buildings, which will be overseen by the armed forces. Heavily armed troops have been deployed to the streets of Quito, deploying razor-wire barricades to block protesters.
The government has responded to the resistance with increasingly dictatorial measures. It has suspended the right to assembly and strike and deployed the military after declaring a state of exception last Wednesday. Emergency rule was ratified by the Supreme Court, despite reducing it from 60 to 30 days. The repression has resulted in one death, the wounding of dozens of demonstrators attacked with rubber bullets, tear gas and baton charges, along with 570 arrests. Several detainees, including the leader of the taxi drivers’ union, face three-year sentences for “paralyzing public services”.
Schools have remained closed since Thursday. There were roadblocks Tuesday in 17 of the 24 provinces. On Sunday, a demonstrator named Raúl Chilpe was killed by a driver attempting to run over a roadblock in the Azuay province.
On Monday, Moreno said he would not “turn back” on his decisions and portrayed the protests as “looting, vandalism and violence” aimed at “destabilizing the government.” He alleged—without providing a shred of evidence—that the mass protests had been instigated and financed by his predecessor Rafael Correa
of whom Moreno during his election campaign promised to continue the leftist policies, before Moreno took a U-turn towards Donald Trump and the IMF, once elected
Moreno’s chief of staff, Juan Sebastián Roldán, contradicted his boss, declaring: “What is happening and what may happen is the sole and exclusive responsibility of the indigenous leaders who have lost control of the situation.”
Across the eastern and southern provinces, indigenous protesters have captured several military and police convoys, with at least one group of 50 soldiers and five policemen held prisoner until Monday, when they were freed. The oil ministry reported that three state-owned PetroAmazonas oilfields in the northeastern provinces had been “occupied by people not related to the operation,” leading to a 12 percent fall in national production.
Workers, students and indigenous communities have mobilized massively in roadblocks and during the nationwide strike last Thursday and Friday, demanding an immediate end to austerity and the resignation of the Moreno government.
On the other hand, despite claiming to reject any talks with Moreno until the austerity package is cancelled, the organizations leading the protests—most prominently the trade union confederation United Workers Front (FUT), the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE) and the … Popular Front—are appealing for intermittent, “gradual” protests and “national unity”.
Dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of a $4.2 billion loan agreement approved in February, the most severe measure is the elimination of $1.3 billion in fuel subsidies, which have resulted in the more than doubling of gas and diesel prices. This in turn has triggered a spiraling of prices of basic necessities.
The decision to scrap the fuel subsidies—which even the most right-wing governments had shied away from for the last four decades—marks a new stage in the efforts of the Ecuadorian ruling class to ingratiate itself with US and European capital. The international banks and financial institutions have persistently demanded the elimination of the subsidies. …
A June 2019 study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) found that the greatest beneficiaries of the subsidies were oil companies and the businesses in general; however, their elimination will cut the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population by 4.5 to 5 percent. The proceeds extracted through the intensification of poverty and hunger will be channeled to Wall Street as well as wealthy bondholders within Ecuador itself.
Other diktats of globalized finance announced by Moreno on October 1 include cuts to tariffs and taxes on certain imports, a labor reform to facilitate “flexible” contracts, a 20 percent wage cut for new-hires in the public sector and a reduction from 30 to 15 yearly vacation days. This comes on top of the firing of 20,000 public employees that has been carried out since May 2017.
The austerity drive and the accompanying authoritarian forms of rule fundamentally express the turn by the Ecuadorian ruling class to US imperialism in response to the deepening crisis of Ecuador’s economy and global capitalism.
Washington has already signaled its desire that Moreno make no concessions and use whatever force necessary to suppress the mass protest movement. Michael G. Kozak, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, tweeted Monday: “We recognize the difficult decisions that the Government of Ecuador has taken to advance good governance & establish the basis for sustainable economic growth.”
“The US is monitoring recent developments in Ecuador carefully” he added. Indicting the mass social opposition and providing a green light for murderous repression, he said, “We reject violence as a form of political protest.”
The turn by the Ecuadorian ruling class … to US imperialism has been expressed most starkly in Quito’s treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the world’s most important political prisoner. In August 2012, Assange was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to escape persecution by Washington for exposing US war crimes and diplomatic intrigues.
… Moreno then gradually increased Assange’s isolation until opening the doors of Ecuador’s London embassy to a British police snatch squad last April, paving the way for his extradition to the US, where he faces espionage and conspiracy charges that carry sentences of 175 years in prison and potentially the death sentence.
Tens of thousands demonstrated in Quito against the illegal revocation of Assange’s asylum in April 2019. Three months later, the official call of a five-day national strike denounced “the rendition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, placing his life in danger.”
These actions evidenced the massive opposition in Ecuador to the continued persecution of Assange and the recognition that the betrayal of the WikiLeaks editor is part and parcel of the Ecuadorian bourgeoisie’s growing subservience to US imperialism and its intensification of the attacks on the working class.
Previous mass protests, on the scale now being seen in Quito, have led to the ouster of governments. Moreno is hoping to avoid this fate by entrenching himself in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest and most industrialized city, and home to its most important port.
In 1997, right-wing President Abadalá Bucaram was impeached by Congress to appease mass protests against privatizations, austerity and corruption, forcing him to escape the besieged Carondelet Presidential Palace in an ambulance and flee to Panama. In 2005, President Lucio Gutiérrez resigned and had to escape from the palace in a helicopter due to mass protests over similar grievances, including his allowing the return of Bucaram to Ecuador. Protesters then prevented his plane from leaving the Quito International Airport, forcing him to seek asylum at the Brazilian embassy.
ECUADORIAN President Lenin Moreno abandoned the capital, Quito, on Monday and fled to the coast ahead of mass demonstrations which were held yesterday. A mass uprising is underway in Ecuador following the abolition of fuel subsidies, as ordered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF): here.