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Ecuador Political Tension

There is an acceleration of Ecuador political tension.

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Indigenous gathering for…

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Correa’s election campaign in…

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2009.

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When Dale Correa was first elected President of Ecuador it was with the support of CONAIE, Ecuador’s largest indigenous political party.

When he ran for re-election in 2009 the bloom was off and CONAIE had withdrawn its support.

Correa did as previous presidential candidates and divided the indigenous.  There are numerous parties divisions ECUARUNARI (highlands) and CONFENIAE (the Amazon) arms of CONAIE.  There is FEINE and FENOCIN and UNORCAC.

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Here is Correa campaigning at the UNORCAC headquarters in Cotacachi in 2009.

Last week a criminal complaint of terrorism was filed by the Otavalo prosecutor against the leader of the CONAIE.

CONAIE stands for “The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador” and is one of Ecuador’s major indigenous organizations.

Formed in 1986, CONAIE promotes social and economic change to help improve the lives of Ecuador’s indigenous population.  They often promote peaceful protests that blockade many of Ecuador’s roads.

CONAIE’s agenda includes a more positive indigenous identity, recuperation of land rights and a rejection of U.S. military involvement in South America such as the Manta Air base and Plan Colombia.

CONAIE was a primary force behind the election of and later ousting of President Lucio Gutiérrez, who was widely perceived as corrupt.

Now tension is building between the indigenous community and President Correa.

CONAIE supported Correa when he first ran for president in 2007.  During his first two years in power, Correa started off making key decisions such as not to renew the contract for the U.S. military base in the coastal city of Manta, to declare a large part of the country’s external debt illegitimate, and to create a National Constituent Assembly to rewrite the political constitution which appeared to be in line with CONAIE’s goals.

The constitution declared water a human right, gave rights to nature, and made Ecuador the second country after Bolivia to be declared a plurinational state—a central proposal of the indigenous movement for decades.

However by the time he decided to run for re-election only two years later, Correa’s actions seemed to diverge from the indigenous goals.

New laws pertaining to mining and food sovereignty, combined with open insults and threats against CONAIE and other indigenous and environmental groups led these organizations to conclude that Correa was shifting from the left far to the right.

New food sovereignty laws were one example of Correa’s policies that CONAIE did not like as it was felt that they promoted agro-industry and favored powerful economic groups and opened the door to GMO terminator seeds, agro-fuels and legalize shrimp farming that could harm coastal mangrove forests.

They also disliked charges of organized terrorism being pressed by the government against community leaders who are opposed to large scale metal mining.

CONAIE may have perceived that they were being taken for granted and that they could gain more out of constructive opposition and pressure than collusion  so they removed their support of Correa before the 2009 elections.

They joined the opposition to President Correa removing one of his powerful supports.  CONAIE may not be the largest political organization, but it is one of the largest indigenous movements. The indigenous represents as much as 25% of Ecuador’s voting population and CONAIE’s participation in previous protests has helped remove other Ecuador presidents over the past ten years.  PACHAKUTIK the political arm of CONAIE has received 6.5% to 10% of  the vote in national elections since 1999… a significant portion in a highly fractured multi party system.

When CONAIE began opposing Correa, the government warned that any group attempting to block roads as a form of protest will face government sanctions.  Yet when CONAIE helped arrange protests over water rights that blocked roads… the government quickly negotiated.

Now tensions have grown when last month Correa hosted an ALBA convention in Otavalo.  Alba stands for “Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America” and the convention included the presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia, plus Cuba’s vice president.

Radio Havana described the meeting like this. Otavalo, Ecuador, June 25 (RHC-PL) The presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia, Cuba’s vice president, along with dignitaries and delegations from countries in the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) will approve today the Declaration of Otavalo.

The Tenth Summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) concludes today in this town in Ecuador with the willingness to continue the path towards the recognition of cultural diversity.

For the first time, the ALBA members draw the guidelines towards an integration process of indigenous and Afro-descendants in a way that proclaims the multiculturalism and plurality of those countries with that ethnical feature.

At the appointment in Otavalo, more than 300 indigenous and afro-descendants authorities, gathered for two days at the Coliseum Francisco Paez of this Andean town, 100 km away from the capital, and discussed a broad agenda in its first day of complex and controversial issues.

To coordinate these public policies with the aspirations and needs of native peoples of the region is undoubtedly a difficult task as it requires building a Sumak Kawsay process or Good Living, fight racism, protect the nature and preserve the heritage.

What the Cubans forgot to mention was that 3,000 of Ecuador’s indigenous were also there to protest!  An article at Amazonwatch.com says: On June 25, nearly 3,000 demonstrators representing indigenous peoples, workers, students and other social sectors of Ecuador participated in a peaceful march in the city of Otavalo to reject the policies being implemented by President Rafael Correa. According to demonstrators, the Correa administration is implementing policies that affect indigenous peoples and the most impoverished sectors of society, without the participation of all stakeholders, therefore disrespecting the rights enshrined in the Constitution and other international instruments.

The government apparently pounced on this. Here is what Amazonwatch.com says in an article entitled “Ecuador Indigenous Leaders Charged with Terrorism and Sabotage” says:  Correa Administration Seeks to Criminalize Dissent and Peaceful Protest

Marlon Santi, President of CONAIE, together with Ecuadorian Congressmembers
speak to the press about the trumped up charges of terrorism and sabotage.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador – CONAIE faces an investigation issued by Otavalo city prosecutors for sabotage and terrorism during the Bolivian Alliance of the Americas summit on June 25. 

Marlon Santí, president of the CONAIE, Marco Guatemal, president of the Indigenous and Peasant Federation of Imbabura- FICI, and Delfín Tenesaca, president of the Ecuadorian Confederation of Kichwa Nationalities, ECUARUNARI, make the following public statement:

On June 25, nearly 3,000 demonstrators representing indigenous peoples, workers, students and other social sectors of Ecuador participated in a peaceful march in the city of Otavalo to reject the policies being implemented by President Rafael Correa.

According to demonstrators, the Correa administration is implementing policies that affect indigenous peoples and the most impoverished sectors of society, without the participation of all stakeholders, therefore disrespecting the rights enshrined in the Constitution and other international instruments. 

The CONAIE reminds President Correa that article 98 of the Constitution clearly states that individuals and groups can exercise the right to resist actions or omissions of public authorities, persons and organizations, that threaten constitutional rights of the peoples, and can demand the recognition of rights.

1. The CONAIE and its members will continue their fight to build a truly Plurinational State, which guarantees the rights of all Ecuadoreans; understanding that Ecuador is a mega-diverse, multicultural, multilingual country as stated in the Constitution.

2. The indigenous movement has always been peaceful, protected by the Constitution, and based on the respect for human rights.

3. The CONAIE and its members reject all acts of racism that denigrate indigenous organizations and their leaders, or present them as criminals, when they are fighters for the rights of the disadvantaged.

4. Outright reject the investigation for alleged crimes of terrorism and sabotage. For the grandmothers and grandfathers who fought tirelessly to defend the lives of their children, we reaffirm our advances to achieve liberation.

Quito, July 1, 2010.

Government of the Indigenous Nations and Peoples of Ecuador

Marlon Santí, President of the CONAIE

Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador

After two hours of searching I could not find any news of this in the Western press…  nor any statement by the Ecuadorian government beyond the press release by Radio Havana mentioned above so CONAIE seems to be the winner when it comes to getting their word out.

I predict that the remainder of the summer will be hot and tense for Correa.

Merri and I do not get involved in politics in Ecuador or here in the USA… however we do believe in the power of music.  See more on this at today’s message Yagyas & Music at www.garyascott.com.

Merri and I believe “In Life as In Music”

So we were struck by this quote from an article Music & Justice (a link to the full article is below):  Most Indigenous musicians from the community of Otavalo in Ecuador do not acknowledge themselves or their music as being political or revolutionary. However, through music they have branched out globally and locally, gaining social justice, political power and economic advancement that has strengthened and transformed their communities. This has made a revolutionary change that to most Indigenous people half a century ago would have seemed inconceivable.

Today Indigenous musicians from Ecuador have gained vast publicity, respect for their music and international recognition. However, the struggle for equality and social justice for the Indigenous Ecuadorians has been a long and continuing battle that has lasted over five hundred years. Since the time of the Spanish conquest, the death of the great Inca king, Huayna-Capac in 1527 and the fall of The Inca Empire, Indigenous Ecuadorians have suffered extreme oppression and exploitation by the Mestizo people. The Mestizo population makes up a little more then half of the country’s population and has, since the fall of the Inca Empire, held a superior position in Ecuador”s social and economic system. “Large numbers of Latin Americans have Indigenous or mixed heritage but do not identify themselves as culturally Indigenous or live in Indian communities(Brysk 6). The treatment of the Indians by The Mestizos has a deep rooted history of racism that has been carried on with a vengeance within Ecuadorian Society. Although The Mestizo people themselves are part Indigenous, society has taught them to be ashamed of their Inca heritage. Mestizo people, who look physically more like their European ancestors have an easier time and are generally considered superior to Indigenous people. Similar to racism that occurs all over the world, the lighter the skin the easier it has been to make your way in society and gives you a higher status. Today in Ecuador, racism is less intense then in the 1950’s but its presence is still a cruel and harsh reality that millions of Indigenous people face.

Merri and I use music this November to help readers learn Spanish in just four days.

Merri and I also believe in adapting… turning lemons into lemonade.

Our experience suggests that these ongoing political machinations will have little impact on most gringos in Ecuador…

When Merri and I first visited Ecuador almost 15 years ago and watched the 1996 election when Abdala Bucaram used indigenous support to become president.  In less than six months,when he lost the support of the indigenous, he was removed from office.

Since that time we have watched a series of presidents, come and go.

In May 1997, Interim President Fabián Alarcón, came and went and a National Assembly to wrote a new Constitution.  On the same day Ecuador’s new constitution began Jamil Mahuad assumed the presidency.

Mahuad, lasted only till January 2000 when the Ecuadorian National Congress, with the support of indigenous organizations, replaced him with Gustavo Noboa Bejarano, Mahuad’s vice-president. In 2002 Lúcio Gutiérrez, a former army Colonel who had a hand in kicking out Mahuad, with the support of indigenous organizations, was elected.

In April, 2005, Gutiérrez, due in part to his loss of support of indigenous organizations, was removed from the presidency.  Dr. Alfredo Palacios, who completed Gutiérrez’ term until Rafael Correa, with the support of indigenous organizations, was elected president.

None of this political upheaval affected our lives or those of any expats that I know of. There have been a few days of inconvenience due to roads being closed… but we have easily adapted to this.  Overall Ecuador politics are non events for the gringos in Ecuador…  unless they let the process upset them.

Plus just like life in Canada and the USA or wherever you live… we adapt as events unfold.  There is plenty about US politics… big business…. government…. that I do not like.  Yet little I can do but adapt.

We also believe in diversification. See why at Ecuador Residence & Triple Protection. Diversification is vital because we all chart the unknown. We never know the impact… of our footprints on others. We never know what the footprint of others will be on us.

Spotting strong economic trends in investing… in business…. in life go well  beyond our logic.

This is why a major theme in our investing and business courses is, “There are always things we cannot know”.

This is why this quote is framed and sits on my desk… “Action is thy duty… Reward not thy concern”.

This is why we recommend that everyone… always make sure that  “the search to serve” is involved in every investment and business decision they make.

This is because the use of logic should only be a small part of our decision making process.

This is because “intentions”… at their deepest levels are as… or more important…. than logic.

This is because all our decisions… our businesses and investments are also impacted by the footprints of all those who have previously passed.

This is because when we step out with a genuine intention to serve… combined with our intuition, experience and logic… we lined our decision making process with the laws of nature and maximize the chances for a positive outcome.

Tension in Ecuador politics may rise now.  However Ecuador’s indigenous live by the code… AMA KILLA, AMA LLULLA, AMA SHUA, (Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy). That is a great foundation for peaceful living.

I do not see how this new Ecuador political tension will impact expats living in Ecuador… especially those who have learned to integrate and serve the community in some way.

Gary

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