ECUADORIAN President Rafael Correa has condemned agreements signed by right-wing forces in his country and those of Bolivia in an attempt to maintain neoliberal structures and traditional policies in these nations – and including the possibility of an assassination attempt on his person – and left-wing parties, social and indigenous movements who are fighting for a new constitution are remaining on the alert.
The current situation in Ecuador is highly tense in terms of the structural reform plans that are being promoted by Correa, a 43-year old economist with an anti-neoliberal position, in tune with the formulas of the progressive currents that are beginning to establish themselves in Latin America: regional integration and the elimination of poverty.
The organization of the reforms, discussions, and preliminary agreements already adopted by the Constituent Assembly, which should conclude its work by next May 24 and the results of which will be subjected to a popular referendum possibly two months later, have accelerated the launch of anti-government plans, the primary public expression being an opposition march that was overwhelmed by thousands of followers of the Alianza País Party of the renovating administration.
As is already known, the traditional parties were crushed by the leftist Alianza País coalition, led by Correa, which won the presidential elections and then in the referendum for the installation of the Constituent Assembly, meaning that the first year of the young economist’s government passed in relative tranquility with respect to his plans, despite knowing that at any given moment the discredited opposition would begin to show its talons.
The movement against the transformations planned by the Quito administration is being led by the Social Christian mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot who, during the mid-January demonstration, promised the launch of national actions against the new constitution so that the “No” vote will prevail at the ballot boxes when the referendum takes place.
Nebot, who has lost the presidential elections on two occasions and remained in the shadows in 2007, has a strong political base in Guayaquil where powerful oligarchs are located.
Taking part in his regular Saturday radio show, 48 hours before the opposition march, the president pointed out that “the oligarchy is going to make it impossible for everything to stay the same and return to Congress, in order to defeat the laws passed by the Assembly, and to continue with privatized oil.”
On January, the first anniversary of his mandate, Correa condemned right-wing opposition groups in Ecuador and Bolivia, commenting that “agreements have been signed between the oligarchy in Guayaquil and Santa Cruz (Bolivia) to transform these regions (the ones with the greatest economic potential) into autonomies which, in real terms, is separatism.”
“They (he said, referring to oligarchic groups in the two countries) are using the separatist projects to torpedo government plans and destabilize us. Behind the discontent of the most prosperous cities in the two countries “there is a regional strategy to prevent the progressive governments from making changes.” The right-wing movements of the two nations are very similar: they speak Spanish but they think in English and have dominated the economy and politics for a long time. They are extremely opulent, semi-ignorant and elitist, and they are mocking the socialism of the 21st century,” he affirmed.
In the case of Ecuador, according to the president, the right-wing plan is aimed at ensuring that the government loses the referendum in which the people will give the green light to the new constitution drawn up by the Constituent Assembly, which has a government majority and is installed in the city of Monticristi.
What has emerged in Ecuador (as well as in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua) is the ideological struggle between two political views with respect to the future of the region: the first of which has declared the new socialism of the 21st century with its national characteristics; and the other which, despite its failure, still continues to defend neoliberalism and representative democracy.
On a number of occasions, the president has exposed the existence of plans to assassinate him. “I have received death threats,” for which reason he urged the people to remain united in order to defeat those he described as “anti-patriotic”. In the work that is underway, “there are threats and dangers” and for this reason, he warned about the latest actions against him.
While Nebot has refused Correa’s invitation to stand in the next presidential elections that might well take place after the referendum on the new national constitution, on January 26 the Ecuadorian government warned foreign oil companies that if they refuse to modify their current contracts, their investments will be returned and the state will assume control of the oil fields they are currently exploiting. “We are not tricking anyone; we will return their millions and they can go away smiling,” said the president, who is enjoying the popular support of more than 75% of the Ecuadorian population, one of the poorest in Latin America. Analysts and political scientists agree that 2008 looks set to be a difficult year for the government of Ecuador.
Ecuador Decentralizes and Reorganizes
Quito, Jan 18 (Prensa Latina) The new state administrative structure that establishes Ecuador’s division into seven regions to guarantee better distribution of resources, is attracting the attention of the citizenry Friday.
The proposal of territorial decentralization, regionalization, and reorganization was presented to the national media by the chief of SENPLADES (National Planning and Development Office) Fander Falconi.
He explained that the plan is to group several provinces in an administrative region, considering their demographic, social, fiscal, risk, and infrastructure components.
This reform is part of President Rafael Correa’s project to change the State, and should be included in the Constitution that the Constituent Assembly is elaborating.
The initiative is an attempt to end social and regional inequality and move toward a decentralization process of competence and resources.
Falconi said this would favor a progressive transference of attributions and functions from the central Executive to the local and intermediate governments of each region.
According to the proposal, there would be seven administrative regions and the cities of Quito, the capital, and Guayaquil, which has more than two million inhabitants, would be metropolitan districts.
The Galapagos Islands, due to its specific characteristics, will have a special administration.
Provincial and municipal governments fear losing their autonomies under the project, but Falconi said the new administrative division would not negatively affect the territories at all; rather it will benefit them, because greater assistance to the populations will be possible.
Only thing to say is right on, right on.
Ecuador to sue Colombia for anti-coca herbicide pollution
http://www.chinaview.cn 2008-01-12 11:44:10
QUITO, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Ecuador would bring a lawsuit against Colombia at The Hague International Court of Justice as it suffers from the pollution of Colombia’s anti-coca herbicide sprayed over border area, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister said Friday.
Maria Isabel Salvador said bilateral negotiations on compensation for Ecuador’s victims of the chemicals have failed, so the Ecuadorian government has decided to bring the case to the international court.
Colombia had used aerial spray of the herbicide to eradicate coca in Ecuador-Colombia border areas since 2000, but was forced to stopped in 2007 due to Ecuador’s protest.
Ecuador complains that the spray have polluted its soil, water and plants, and harmed the health of many Ecuadorians.
Salvador said Ecuador would bring forward undisputable proof at the court to show the harms Ecuadorians are suffering.
Along the 180-km Ecuador-Colombia border, coca growing area in Colombia covers 162,000 hectares. The border area is also rife with anti-government militants and drug traffickers.
Editor: Sun Yunlong
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Now this is a tax plan to get behind! But, it won’t be long before the opposition and the US begin a frontal attack.
New Tax Act in 2008 in Ecuador
Quito, Dec 29 (Prensa Latina) A new tax act aimed at improving wealth distribution, guaranteeing more equity and reactivating national production will come into force in 2008 in Ecuador.
It is the first law approved by the Constituent Assembly since it was established on November 29 by 130 members, including 80 from the Alianza Pais movement.
The Tax Equity Act was approved by 90 assembly members from Alianza Pais and other minority groups that back the process of reform in Ecuador.
The 23 votes against the act were cast by the opposition Social-Christian Party, Institutional Renovating Party, UNO and Patriotic Society.
The act will come into force on January 1, 2008, after being published in the Official Record this weekend.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa confirmed that the new law, which exempts 85 percent of the population from taxes, would minimize tax evasion, promote employment and production, and regulate an economy that was in chaos.
The Tax Equity Act, which was criticized by the opposition, toughens the sentences for tax evasion, including prison.
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