Thursday, June 23 marked the 12th day of the indefinite national strike called by the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador (CONAIE) and to which other social groups have joined. So far five deaths have been reported as a result of violent repression of the protests by security forces. The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, said on Friday, June 24, that there is an “attempt to destabilize our democracy.” He made this comment in a message to the nation.
“It has been proved that the true intention behind the violence is to generate a coup,” President Lasso commented, and called on the “international community” to be vigilant. He authorized the progressive use of force by the security forces of the country in order to avert any acts of “destabilization.”
¡Defenderemos la paz! Hago un llamado a los manifestantes que por su seguridad y la de sus familias, vuelvan a sus hogares. La violencia perpetrada por criminales infiltrados muestra intenciones de desestabilizar la democracia. Tomaremos las medidas, dentro del marco de la ley. pic.twitter.com/jK2CqGjcvF
— Guillermo Lasso (@LassoGuillermo) June 24, 2022
Although Lasso has called for negotiations with the groups involved in the protests, he has insisted that the demonstrations have a “violent” character and that “criminal groups” are behind it.
He warned that the Ecuadorian Police and the Armed Forces “will act with the necessary means to defend, within the legal framework and through a progressive use of force, public order and democracy.”
President Lasso asked the thousands of “indigenous and peasant brothers” who are currently in Quito participating in the demonstrations, many of them Quito residents, to “return to their communities” for “their own safety and that of their families.”
“Today we reaffirm our commitment to all of you to attend directly to all your historical causes in your communities,” he promised in his message.
Violation of civil rights and repression
President Lasso, in his speech, said that the protesters had violated the rights of members of the “security forces, citizens and journalists.” He sympathized with the aforementioned and “with the Ecuadorians who have been unjustly attacked during these days.”
However, in his six-minute speech, the Ecuadorian president did not refer to the dead and the injured within the ranks of the protesters, as local and international human rights organizations have denounced.
According to the Alliance of Organizations for Human Rights, which brings together 15 groups, as of Thursday, June 23, five people had died due to police violence, five are reportedly disappeared, 166 have been injured and 108 arrested.
— Alianza de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos (@DDHH_Alianza) June 24, 2022
The Alliance also reported of at least 64 human rights violations that have been committed by security forces, for which the human rights groups hold the Ecuadorian State responsible.
The Alliance also reported that during the last two days, after the CONAIE regrouped at the House of Culture of Ecuador (CCE) in Quito, there has been severe police repression of protesters in its vicinity, including in the El Arbolito park and in the neighborhood of the National Assembly building.
“The incompetent government shoots us because it cannot give ideas or solutions,” stated CONAIE, denouncing attacks by security forces against demonstrators.
Ambiente en el Parque El Arbolito en el día 12 del #paronacionalecuador2022, el gobierno incapaz nos mete bala porque no puede generar ideas ni soluciones.
Lasso bajas las armas y deja de mentir. pic.twitter.com/G1TzMtqzr6
— CONAIE (@CONAIE_Ecuador) June 24, 2022
On Monday, June 20, Erika Guevara Rosas, director of Amnesty International for the Americas pointed out that “President Lasso’s unfortunate decision to repress the protests is causing a human rights crisis reminiscent of that of October 2019.”
Amnesty International listed multiple complaints of harassment, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, mistreatment, and criminalization of protesters, journalists, and human rights defenders.
Demands of protesters
The indefinite national strike began on June 13, after a year of unsuccessful negotiations between the indigenous movement platform CONAIE and the government of Ecuador. The call to protest by the CONAIE was due to the “inability and lack of will” of the government to respond to social demands.
The demands made by the indigenous movement and other social organizations are articulated as 10 petition points: reduction and no further increase in fuel price, a moratorium and renegotiation of bank debts for more than 4 million families, fair prices for agricultural products, employment and labor rights, health and education, a moratorium on the expansion of the extractive mining/oil industry in indigenous territories, respect for 21 collective rights, an end to the privatization of strategic sectors, price control policies, and effective public policy to stop the wave of violence that Ecuador has been suffering for years.
As conditions for establishing a dialogue, CONAIE has demanded immediate cessation of the repression and criminalization of protesters, a repeal of the State of Exception and a guarantee not to impose new decrees on the current national strike, cessation of smear campaigns, and respect for the humanitarian shelter zones. The organization has asserted that there are no non-negotiable points on the negotiation table, but rather an effort to attend to the demands of the citizens.
National Assembly to discuss Lasso’s impeachment
The president of the National Assembly of Ecuador, Virgilio Saquicela, announced on Friday, June 24, that the Assembly will discuss the petition of impeachment of President Lasso, presented by the leftist block Union for Hope (UNES). The discussion will take place during a special session on Saturday evening.
According to UNES, the impeachment request has been made because “during these 134 months [of President Lasso’s mandate], the government has not been able to tackle the serious problems that Ecuador is suffering, but on the contrary has deepened the crisis.”
‼️En medio de la represión y el ataque brutal contra la @CasadelaCultura, ahora la @AsambleaEcuador se convoca para este sábado para “conocer y resolver acerca de la destitución del Presidente” @LassoGuillermo‼️ pic.twitter.com/Nh1fTwcUth
— Orlando Pérez (@OrlandoPerezEC) June 24, 2022
The petition requires the support of 92 parliamentarians for the impeachment to be carried out. The UNES block has 47 members in the National Assembly, and most analysts consider that the petition will not get the necessary number of votes.
(RT), with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune