Ecuador is Undergoing a Historical Political Revolution
The Citizen's Revolution has made important achievements in Ecuadoran society, while the opposition has maintained a constant presence.
A historic political transformation has been underway in Ecuador since the election of President Rafael Correa in 2007, as part of his governmental plan known as the Citizen's Revolution, which seeks to create a more equal society with greater popular participation in decision making, has made important achievements. Despite having about 80 percent approval rating, the opposition has always been present during his government.
Three blocks separated a violent protest from a peaceful rally September 17 in the historic downtown of Quito. Groups opposed to labor code reform proposals and to various aspects of Correa's government staged a march which ended in the San Francisco Square. Once there, protestors began trying to break through police lines, who were blocking access to the Independence Square, where a government-sponsored music festival in celebration of workers rights was being celebrated.
President Correa has called the events of September 17 a resurgence of the right and an attempt to destabilize his government. Despite having an about 80 percent approval rating, the opposition has maintained a constant presence throughout his administration. September 30, 2010 was the day of an attempted coup against his government, after a police rebellion took a violent turn, resulting in eight people killed and 275 injured.
Jorge Cisneros who was at the scene of the attempted coup, and suffered severe injuries, gave his opinion on the formation of the opposition on September 17.
“The issue of disinformation is also a problem. Somebody hears about something, almost a rumor, and they make it a discourse and a flag for their fight, I think that this does not matter, of this discourse of this rumor, of this comment, of this information that maybe they can make the cause of their fight and consider it to be the absolute truth so this is very unfortunate, and on the other hand there are things that are very serious that are taken very lightly.
Such as September 30, when our lives were put at risk and our security, the stability of the country and the whole system, well, there could have been a lot worse damage if they had succeeded in the coup and in the assassination of the President, a lot worse.”
The central issue of the march of September 17 were the proposed reforms to the 1948 Labor Code, which have yet to be discussed in the National Assembly. These changes include granting access to the social security system to sex workers, homemakers and people working in the transportation sector, while giving greater protection to traditionally excluded groups such as the disabled, women, Afro-Ecuadorans and LGBT workers.
Those participating in the opposition march were protesting against what they perceive to be new conditions that are unfavorable for workers, such as limiting strike, among other complaints against the current administration. During Correa's government, the minimum wage has doubled from US$170 to US$340, and access to the social security system has jumped from 26 percent to 43 percent.
“The Citizen's Revolution has given to the poorest,” said Doris Soliz, the Executive Secretary of Ecuador's ruling party PAIS Alliance, “It supports all citizens and has constructed very important achievements that have also awakened the reaction of some privileged elites who governed with their backs to the people and those that never consulted the Ecuadoran people, those with an unethical alliance with the large private media, who determined the decisions most often only in favor of banks and large businesses.
They are old economic and political interests of the elites that are not in agreement with this new political construction that is happening in Latin America.”
Ecuador to Bring Together LatAm Progressive Forces
At a press conference, the executive secretary of Alianza Pais (organizer of the forum), Doris Soliz, said that in Latin America we finally have governments that look like their people, but there are those who seek to return to the past of injustice and exclusion.
Left-wing and progressive forces should unite, reflect on lessons learned and articulate strategies to build a future of equal opportunity for all, Soliz said.
The meeting will host six roundtables featuring politicians, academics and activists associated with left movements and parties across Latin America and Europe. The roundtables will address topics such as the new right-wing threats, the power of the media, the regional integration, as well as the social and economic destabilization of governments in the continent.
For his part, the Director of International Relations of PAIS Alliance, Guillaume Long, reported that the encounter will be attended by 30 special guests including Colombian politician Piedad Córdoba, former presidents Martin Torrijos (Panama) and Manuel Zelaya (Honduras), and intellectuals Marta Harnecker (Chile) and Atilio Boron (Argentina).
The event will be launched by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and will be held on September 29 and 30 at the Ecuadorian Culture House.