Ecuador general strike defies state of emergency

Massive demonstration took place yesterday in Puyo, Ecuador on the seventh day of the general strike

FOR over a week now, farmers, students, workers, and transporters continue to join the national strike called by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) against President Guillermo Lasso.

By yesterday, at least six sectors of the capital, Quito, remained closed because of the protests, and while the government met to decide to ratify its declared state of emergency.
But the protests continue despite the declaration of a state of emergency in Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Imbabura.
In fact, the leadership of CONAIE declared: ‘The strike continues at the national and territorial level indefinitely, with a clear agenda of 10 issues’ which have been presented to Ecuadorian president Lasso.
In the meantime, the National Police, by order of the Attorney General’s Office, raided the national headquarters of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, in Quito.
The Attorney General’s Office claimed they’d received an anonymous call, supposedly warning that about 30 people, nationals and foreigners, were in the premises, storing explosives and handmade weapons.
These items would be used in the demonstrations during the next few days against the police and military, and to break into the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic.
In response, CONAIE wryly pointed out that this was an operation ‘carried out with astonishing agility after just one “anonymous” call’.
In reality, ‘the government raids cultural democratic spaces, imprisons and attacks social leaders and criminalises the National Strike’.
The president of the Casa de la Cultura, Fernando Cerón slammed the ‘excessive police repression’ and raid on the building, the same space which is famous for having sheltered citizens during the demonstrations of October 2019, in a humanitarian act.
Several artists, cultural managers and political actors spoke out against the raid, denouncing it as part of the National Government’s criminalisation of the protests.
CONAIE has also called on the National Assembly, not to become an accomplice of the government, and repeal the decree by which President Guillermo Lasso imposed the State of Emergency, which they describe as a ‘desperate act’.
Last Thursday morning, the integrated emergency service ECU911 reported that citizens blocked roads and streets in 12 provinces.
The national strike has also affected traffic to the country’s main international airport located about 40 kilometres from Quito.
The government headquarters are currently surrounded by a strong deployment of soldiers and police.
Meanwhile, the Lasso administration’s security forces are trying to halt the protesters’ advance, but they continue to arrive in the capital city from other provinces.
Previously, on June 14, the CONAIE president Leonidas Iza was arbitrarily detained by security forces. This arrest, however, has not been the only case of police brutality.
‘Elite groups of the Police and the Armed Forces illegally detained Leonidas Iza,’ CONAIE tweeted, along with a video showing images of his violent detention, which took place in the Lasso sector, in the province of Cotopaxi.
‘We call on our organisational structure to radicalise the protest and demand the freedom of our main leader and respect for the dignity of our struggle,’ it added.
Without mentioning the CONAIE leader, President Lasso said at dawn on June 14, that the security forces were detaining the national strike’s leaders.
The right-wing politician justified his decision by claiming that the demonstrators had set fire to a patrol car, looted shops, smashed windshields, attacked oil pumping facilities, cut off water supplies to communities, and blocked roads.
‘Now it’s up to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Judiciary to act because no one is above the law. We cannot be victims of vandals who only want to cause chaos’, Lasso said.
Since the indefinite national strike began in the early hours of last Monday, some cities in the country have had logistical problems due to the blockade of highways with barricades.
In the afternoon, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo claimed that Indigenous communities had ‘kidnapped’ policemen in the Saraguro canton in Loja province to ‘purify’ them with ritual procedures – then the raid on Casa de la Cultura in the capital was carried out.
Meanwhile, the militarisation of cities and highways to contain the social protest has raised immediate concern about the situation of civil rights in Ecuador.
On Thursday, human rights defenders demanded that Lasso reveal the whereabouts of those detained and the charges against them.
This followed persecutions and attacks by the police on college students in the city of Cuenca on Wednesday night.

  • On Wednesday, thousands of Uruguayan students and teachers took to the streets to protest against a US$80 million budget cut that has harmed the education system for the past two years.

President Luis Lacalle’s ‘pedagogical adjustment will cut content to prioritise competencies,’ denounced the High School Teachers Association.
Jose Olivera, the president of the National High School Teachers Federation (FENAPES), explained that the main consequences of the cutback include a reduction in the number of teaching positions and the resulting ‘overpopulation’ in classrooms, with up to 45 students per teacher, along with the elimination of many study courses.
Student movement representative Valentina Rodriguez said the strike was staged to ‘defend quality education’ and so that ‘dying of cold’ would not become the norm inside classrooms.
The 24-hour strike comes as part of a number of actions by various Uruguayan unions during June, including strikes by construction and metallurgical workers against government budget cuts – that must go to Parliament for debate before June 30.

  • In Bolivia, the right-wing coup plotter Jeanine Anez has just been given a ten year jail sentence.

Miriam Amancay COLQUE (Bartolina Sisa Resistance) spokesperson released the following statement last Thursday:
‘On June 15, 2022, the Court gave a full reading of the sentence to 10 years in prison to the self-proclaimed Jeanine Anez and other co-defendants, in the case of Coup d’etat II, for resolutions contrary to the State Constitution and breach of duties in November 2019.
‘The legal system caught up with Jeanine Anez and some of her co-defendants. Due process has been exercised – which has been used and abused by the defence.
‘Even within its limitations, the Bolivian justice system has made an important step with this trial.
‘It is not enough but it is a step forward in the fight against impunity.
‘And the outcome must be defended against the far right that seeks to undermine the verdict, by calling on international organisations “to certify that there was no coup”.
‘No one should interfere in our legal system, not even imperialist US Senators. The Plurinational State of Bolivia is a free and democratic country and our sovereignty should be respected.
‘We repudiate the far right coup plotters who continue walking the streets with impunity and intend to destabilise the country again by calling paramilitary groups out, supported by Amparo Carvajal, who defends the executioners and not the victims’ human rights.
‘They should be prosecuted alongside Luis Almagro – OAS, for taking part in the November 2019 bloody coup that left more than 38 indigenous people killed, more than 800 injured and disabled, and more than 1,500 men, women imprisoned and tortured. Nor do we forget the death of the Argentinian journalist Sebastian Moro.
‘We also condemn the private media outlets and press that lack objectivity, misuse freedom of expression by amplifying false narratives with fake news.
‘We praise the courage of sister Lidia Patty, an indigenous woman and former MP, who started the legal proceedings and for her staunch fight against impunity.
‘This verdict sets a precedent, so violent seizure of power never happens again. Democracy should prevail, not dictatorship.
‘Be assured that we will not rest until justice is done and we will redouble our efforts to demand justice and reparation for all the coup victims and their families.’