An October that was February

By Atilio Boron

At the conclusion of the alleged negotiation between the leadership of CONAIE and Lenin Moreno this October 14, it was condemned to be the defeat of the popular uprising. The mobilization had begun, according to an official tweet from CONAIE, to put an end to “the economic policies of death and misery generated by the IMF and the extractive policies that affect our territories.” In the very complete and detailed “Declaration of Agenda of Struggle of Organizations of Indigenous and Amazonian Peoples, Nationalities and Communities in Support of National Mobilization and the Exercise of Our Self-Determination”, approved in Puyo (Pastaza), on October 7, 2019, highlighted as some of its most outstanding rejection to “the economic measures, called the ‘Paquetazo’, and added that “we demand the complete reversal of the letter of intent signed with the International Monetary Fund whose content has not been made public in violation of the obligation to transparent the acts of the executive; as well as the termination of attempts to privatize undercover public companies under the figure of ‘concession’.” The Agenda and other CONAIE statements also denounced “the enormous benefits that the bourgeoisie continues to receive through multiple economic recovery policies” and saying that the “time for an action to conquer popular injustices and prevent the steamroller of reforms from passing over the economy of poor households” had arrived. This translated, according to the leaders of the movement, in scandalous measures in favor of the banks and large companies that were exempted from the payment of 4,295 million dollars in taxes as well as the “colonization” by their representatives of the main positions of the public administration as well as the deregulation and precarious labor required in the “Paquetazo” of the IMF. Remember that the measures announced by Moreno on October 1 stipulated that public company workers “should contribute one day of their salary each month” and that in order to “reduce the wage bill, occasional contracts would be renewed with 20% less remuneration, while the time of their vacation is lowered from 30 to 15 days.

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It is surprising that this leafy agenda is completely out of the discussion between the leadership of the native peoples and the Ecuadorian president. Therefore, the triumphalism that some protagonists and observers of the conflict exude when talking about the “negotiation” that ended the revolt is beyond understanding. Except for the question of the price of gasoline – no doubt important – everything else remains intact, as if the enormous popular mobilization against IMF impositions had not happened. Shockingly, the issues that made the “paquetazo” were left out of the discussion, as was the claim, previously expressed by the indigenous leadership, to reverse the letter of intent signed with the IMF “in an unqualified way.” Not only this: they also remain buried in oblivion, at least for now [ . . .]through a spectacular political somersault Moreno embezzled that mandate with a speed and radicality rarely seen at the time that he converted Rafael Correa – who until the day of the inauguration did not get tired of saying that he had been one of the most famous figures of Ecuador, only surpassed by Eloy Alfaro- in a disastrous character that caused the greatest misfortunes ever suffered by Ecuador and who persecuted – and persecutes – with sickly heartbreak and without pause. Moreno not only reversed the road traveled by Correa but did so by submitting viciously to Washington’s mandates: he left ALBA; delivered a military base in Galapagos (one of humanity’s last uncontaminated shelters); evicted the authorities and officials of UNASUR from the headquarter built on the outskirts of Quito, precisely on the equator; and he knelt before Donald Trump to satisfy with unequalled ignominy (on a prodigal continent in the “lamebotas” of the empire) the smallest whims of the emperor. To begin, to try to destroy Unasur and promote the disastrous Lima Group to attack the Bolivarian Revolution. In sum, Ecuador went from the national self-determination conquered by the Correa government to be a “proxy”, rather: a pawn-state that limits itself to obeying the orders emanating from Washington and the corrupt dominant oligarchies in Ecuador. Nothing, absolutely none of this, appeared in the “negotiations” that the CONAIE leadership had with Moreno and that ended the conflict. Nor was there in that peculiar “negotiation” a condemnation of the brutality of police and military repression, the dead (a minimum of ten), almost 100 missing, hundreds of wounded and imprisoned, the latter by the thousands, and nothing was said about the request for the resignation of the ultra-reactionary ministers of the Interior and Defense and on human rights abuses. Was all the commotion that shook Ecuador just for the price of gasoline? And what about the IMF’s “Paquetazo”? Apparently the mountains gave birth to a mouse.

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Let us offer some conjecture to try to unravel what happened and its reasons. First, what characterized this revolt was its tremendous ideological and political weakness that could hardly be hidden under the multitude of its convocation. But it lacked a political leadership motivated by a genuine desire for change and opposition to the ruling regime. In fact, given things with the advantage granted by the passage of time, it could be said with a certain exaggeration that it was a dispute within the morenista project and nothing more, and that the spontaneity of the protest triggered by the decree of the 1st October was welcomed by its drivers, not at all interested in raising the level of awareness of the insurgent masses. The rest was a rhetorical litter that was intended more to confuse the masses than to clarify their conscience and the meaning of their struggle. Second, Moreno’s betrayal finds its mirror in that of some of the most renowned leaders of CONAIE, especially Jaime Vargas, who threw overboard his own dead and disappeared to get the promise in return – understand well, “the promise ”– of a new decree that only an illusive, or a perverse accomplice, may believe will mean retracing the path of total submission to the IMF. A deep discussion can be expected within CONAIE because there are indications that a sector of the management, and not a few in its bases, disagree with what was agreed with the Moreno regime. Not only with what was agreed by Vargas but also with the role played by Salvador Quishpe, former Prefect of Morona and fierce enemy of Correa and whose animosity towards him led him to forge an obscene bargain with Moreno. It is not at all risky to predict that this latent conflict will not take long to explode. Third, the president moved shrewdly, well advised by Enrique Ayala Mora, president of the Socialist Party of Ecuador and some other mercenaries of Ecuadorian politics (united by the sickly resentment they have with former President Correa) as Pablo Celi, Juan Sebastián Roldán and Gustavo Larrea, regular visitors and co-residents of “the embassy” (to avoid describing them as “agents”) who told him how he had to negotiate with the indigenous: promises, nice gestures, photos, a television set up, exaltation of the false unit type “we are all Ecuadorians”, a fraternity of operetta in charge of the major chameleon of Latin American politics, Lenín Moreno, to make the rebels return to their communities leaving the field clear so that then the government continues smoothly with its project. Fourth, the success of the government’s strategy is also based on a fact as unfortunate as it is: the deep penetration of the ideas of “anti-politics” in the civil society of Ecuador, which conceives parties as incurable nests of corruption, the amen of the virulent and sustained attack against correísmo and everything that resembles it, the complicity of the judiciary in validating the systematic violation of the rule of law during Moreno’s administration and the manipulative role of the media oligarchy that did not cease to (badly) inform and misinform throughout the conflict. Fifth, that although the indigenous insurgency had the support of broad sectors of the population, these were only a choir that passively accompanied the initiatives of the CONAIE leadership. No other way can the anomalous fact be interpreted that only the leadership of that organization (very influenced, it is known, by some NGOs that operate in Ecuador and that are the invisible tentacles of the empire and even some federal agencies of the United States government) would have been sitting at the negotiating table. And what of the other sectors of the popular field? Nothing. All its other components vanished blow by blow and all that was solid “dissolved into the air”, leaving no trace in the conflict. The weakening of parties and unions greatly facilitated things for the government and for the conservative leadership of CONAIE. It is a shameful and extravagant fact that their main target was Rafael Correa and not the executioner who was killing his followers in the streets of Quito. This reveals the depth of a conflict between the former president and that organization that at this juncture served to prevent Correismo, as well as other political and social forces, from converging in the conduct of the revolt. Moreover, the government imprisoned several of the most important leaders of Correismo, beginning with nothing less than the Prefect of Pichincha, Paola Pabón, without the slightest protest from the CONAIE leadership in the face of such an outrage.

To conclude: far from having succeeded, what really happened was the consummation of a defeat of the popular insurgency, whose enormous sacrifice was offered without anything concrete in return and, to top it off, at a false negotiating table. An indigenous leadership that is either naive or otherwise corrupt because, paraphrasing what Che said about imperialism, “Moreno can’t be trusted the tiniest bit like that, nothing!” And this leadership believed the “boss” of a frankly dictatorial and corrupt to the viscera regime. They believed a character like Moreno, a serial traitor who if he betrayed his promises a hundred times, he will do it one hundred and one, without scruples and dying of laughter at the indigenous negotiators! Of course, the president also came out weakened from the conflict: to flee Quito and set up a negotiation, fraudulent but colorful and effective before television cameras. The IMF will reproach him for his attitude and return to the charge, forcing him to comply with what he agreed, despite the promises he made to CONAIE. It will not be long before the popular masses of Ecuador, not only the native peoples but also the poor layers of the city and the countryside, the impoverished and disempowered middle sectors, in short, the majority of Ecuador’s population takes the measure of the great scam perpetrated by Moreno and his stubborn advisors with the unforgivable complicity of the CONAIE leadership and decide to take the streets again. It is a venerable tradition of the Ecuadorian people that overthrew several reactionary presidents and if this time, when they made an incredible effort, things went wrong, it is likely that in their resurgence the results will be very different. Drawing a parallel with the history of the Russian revolution, what we saw in Ecuador seemed to be an October and turned out to be a February. That is why the Ecuadorian “Kerenski” is still in power, as the Russian remained until his October arrived. Sooner or later, the Ecuadorian will also receive his October and, if the popular masses learned something from this lesson, in the future they will not be mistaken and when they rebel they will get rid of their betrayal leadership and put an end to a puppet, immoral and retrograde regime like few have been in the history of Our America.

Source URL: Atilio Boron Blog

Translated by JRE/EF

Atilio Boron
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Atilio A. Boron is a Harvard Graduate professor of political theory at the University of Buenos Aires and was executive secretary of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO). He has published widely in several languages a variety of books and articles on political theory and philosophy, social theory, and comparative studies on the capitalist development in the periphery. He is an international analyst, writer and journalist and profoundly Latinoamerican.

Atilio Boron

Atilio A. Boron is a Harvard Graduate professor of political theory at the University of Buenos Aires and was executive secretary of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO). He has published widely in several languages a variety of books and articles on political theory and philosophy, social theory, and comparative studies on the capitalist development in the periphery. He is an international analyst, writer and journalist and profoundly Latinoamerican.