I am happy to answer your questions, but with the precision that I do it “on the fly” and that, although I want to be objective, it will be difficult to leave my subjectivity aside, in particular because the events in Ecuador in the first half of October 2019 generated greater social polarization, which is reflected in the tendency for people to have very opposed readings and interpretations of facts, those that respond to our interests, prejudices, ideological positions, political adherence and influence of the media.
IAFT: What is the situation more than twenty days after the revolt against rising gas prices?
Guillermo Fuchslocher: Two main lines of reflection and action have been manifested, each with a main actor: the government and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, CONAIE. The first line was adopted by the government, business, media and political rights sectors. The second is mainly by the indigenous, trade union, student and popular sectors, expressed mainly in alternative and community small media and social networks. (It is also false mixed information and “trolls“, which are opposed by the communication of the government with its own clarifications and its discredit on what is disseminated in these networks, even with the help of text messages, but I don’t know if they reach everyone that has a cell phone line).
According to the government, former President Rafael Correa and his supporters orchestrated this attempted coup d’état, orchestrated or supported by Nicolás Maduro, by using violent groups that reportedly infiltrated the indigenous uprising or manipulated some of their leaders. The commanders of the armed forces record their actions in favour of democracy and the police, in the matter of gradual use of force in accordance with pre-established protocols.
According to CONAIE, there was an indigenous and popular uprising against the economic measures advocated by the IMF, as they were considered harmful to the Ecuadorian people and indigenous peoples in particular, an uprising in which criminals and sectors infiltrated They triggered violent actions.
The population has noted with satisfaction the end of the strike and the dialogue Government/CONAIE and is pleased with what could happen, because the half-month strike has affected many people economically and gives the impression that the economy is stagnant: companies that have not been able to pay the wages of their employees, a large number of people underemployees and street vendors who have had no income (and if they do not work, do not eat), families who have not been able to pay the rent of their home.
The actions taken by the government and the Office of the Attorney General focused on police and judicial investigations into the facts and what has been considered by some as a “witch hunt” known supporters of former President Correa, some detained and others isolated in the Mexican embassy. The government and the media continued their communication campaign based on interpretation of the facts and on property damage and loss. On the economic front, he worked to adapt the economic measures imposed by the IMF, enacted an urgent economic law of a neoliberal nature and still has not clarified the measures to be taken to remedy the considerable budget deficit, given the need to send next year’s budget to the National Assembly as soon as possible.
CONAIE’s actions focused on the convocation and the establishment of a People’s Parliament composed of popular and social organizations, to develop a comprehensive economic proposal to be presented to the government and the country that includes not only reforms to the Fuel Subsidy Elimination Order, but mainly economic policies, agrarian and productive, social and environmental rights, related to extraction and territorial rights. In summary, a new economic model, with certainly a left-wing vision, to be presented to a right-wing government, but which could have a symbolic impact on the country, in case they could synthesize it and disseminate it massively.
On the other hand, an observation mission of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights receives testimony from all parties involved on human rights violations.
An important fact is the statement by the Minister of National Defence, who said that the universities that host Aboriginal people in Quito to provide them with housing and food, thanks to donations from the people, are logistical centers supporting the indigenous uprising. This statement, considered unfortunate, was rejected by the rectors of the Central University of Ecuador, the Salesian Polytechnic University, the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, the National Polytechnic and the Andean University Simón Bolívar.
For his part, a statement by the CONAIE’s President according to which they will organize an indigenous army, in the sense of the security force of their territories, has led to the rejection of certain sectors of the political right and requests for prosecution. The problem could arise from the general ignorance of constitutional norms relating to indigenous nationalities and the absence of such legal regulations, mainly as regards plurinationality, their ongoing roles and responsibilities in their collective rights, such as Aboriginal territorial governments, the law. and indigenous justice, its own education system, prior consultation of laws that may affect them, limitation of military activities in their territories, prior consultation for the development of non-renewable resources, etc., of rights that are generally not respected and that they are determined to obtain.
In addition, former neo-liberal Vice-president, Alberto Dahik, filed a criminal complaint against the President of CONAIE, Jaime Vargas, for terrorism offence.
On the social front, CONAIE has achieved the support of certain sectors, while others reject it and have not been able to continue to hide their racism. As regards the government, the pollster CEDATOS indicated that its popularity, when it announced economic measures, had dropped from 21.4% to 12%, but that after the agreement with CONAIE, it had increased to 22%, which is interpreted as the majority wishes, that the constitutional order is not broken. According to the same investigator, at the beginning of October, 76% of the population was frustrated and concerned about the high unemployment rate and 85% did not approve of the increase in fuel prices. 76% wanted a quick solution to the unemployment problem and the repeal of the decree eliminating the fuel subsidy to restore peace and 77% were convinced that in the demonstration, groups of vandalism infiltrated in the cause of violence.
IAFT: Where are the discussions going on the new decree announced by the government?
G.F: The dialogue is pending as much of the government’s proposals to eliminate subsidies, concentrating them so that the suppression does not affect the poorest and does not benefit the richest and the smuggling, but allows them to have the necessary resources to deal with their deficit and meet its commitments with the IMF; only that of CONAIE, which was an integral programme prepared by the People’s Parliament that it convened.
As regards diametrically different interests, visions and actions, difficult to harmonize, this can become a “dialogue of the deaf” because, on the one hand, the government, by accusing others of events, Does not acknowledge that it all began with the publication of Decree 883, that is, in its own mistakes, in its lack of historical vision, in the lack of good political advice, and who, having committed to and listened to business people and the IMF, turned his back on his constituents and the government program with which he succeeded. It only recognizes that the “intelligence” of the government, the army and the police have failed. On the other hand, CONAIE, despite the initiative to bring together various popular sectors to propose the elaboration of a comprehensive economic proposal, limits participation to those who can coincide with it and ignores the enormous force that currently characterizes the historical moment. They do not share their criteria, mainly the sectors of activity. Added to this is the fact that it can overestimate its own strengths and start acting in response to its political interests, with electoral objectives.
Both the government and CONAIE seem convinced that they are right, that the others are “the bad guys” and that it is difficult for them to think in the medium term based on mutual tasks. However, despite the above, which largely reflects the image that each party wishes to give, it is not possible to exclude the possibility of concluding certain agreements, based on mutual agreement, which, where appropriate, would then be concluded, which would need to be analyzed in order to know who they are benefiting and who they are harming, but especially how the population reacts.
IAFT: How are people reacting to the Chilean uprising?
G.F: The Ecuadorian government sympathized with the Chilean government, CONAIE sympathized with the Chilean people. Many people are surprised to learn, mainly from the international media, that the Chilean model was not as it was painted. Some analysts have noted that Chile gives an appearance similar to that given by a magnificent and modern office, while hiding that those who worked there were mistreated and received miserable salaries. But for the right-wing sectors, the OAS Secretary interpreted what is happening in Latin America as a plan of Cuban-Venezuelan destabilization.
What becomes obvious is that when the economic situation and the measures directly and harshly affect the living conditions of the majority sections of the population, if it is not rectified and if trust and hope for change are not generated, only protest remains and this can easily become a social epidemic and trigger unpredictable and violent events. Chile is becoming an example where a people cannot be abused indefinitely without serious consequences.
AILP: What solution is there for the peoples of Ecuador, Latin America and the whole world, faced with the current “ultra-liberal” policy?
G.F: Neoliberal policies aggravate a fundamental problem, namely the low distribution of wealth generated by almost all citizens, which belongs in large part to a very small minority. This situation is maintained by an oligarchic political system under the guise of democracy, which is only on paper, because there is very little democratic culture and poor civic political formation, which led the population to be constantly manipulated by opportunist and populist politicians, political parties without real ideological support that were basically electoral societies. When it comes to mass media, they respond to commercial interests, often blatantly and without the slightest journalistic ethic, all that is channeled through delicate electoral systems whose role is to dominate power, in the form of a presidential figure, a quasi-elected monarch, who understands that to govern, it is imposing one’s will by buying the support of members of the legislative and judicial branch. This neopresidential or hyper-presidential political system is justified by the difficulty of governance of our people, what constitutes a pretext that conceals the lack of representativeness of leaders who promise something as candidates and do something different once in power, adhering to the power and interests of economic power, who has the ability and ability to co-opt the leaders in power. For this reason, economic policies, even those of so-called left-wing governments, have mainly benefited different economic groups, their own partisan projects and their personal interests, increasingly linked to corruption.
Faced with this, the Aboriginal strike highlighted the resurgence of the Aboriginal movement and the possibility of bringing together popular sectors around this movement, staging a major new political actor, in which its leaders surprised by a simple and understandable speech for everyone. But this new reality and possibility has frightened and warned the traditional holders of economic and political power and their media, those who have committed personal attacks, such as the dissemination of so-called assets and the personal lives of Indigenous leaders, which is in addition to the legal actions for acts of violence and destruction, or the criminal complaint against the President of CONAIE, in which they see a possible candidate in the next election, unbalancing a political chessboard already in place.
In this context, without a process of political education, training in ethical and democratic culture and real democratization of institutions, powerful economic interests, corruption and political immediacy will probably continue to prevail, which is only interested in the next election.
Serious work to change the situation would involve a social pact that favours an economic redistribution of wealth and the implementation of an economic model allowing the elimination of extreme poverty, job creation for large jobless or underemployed sectorsemployees and the improvement of the conditions and quality of life of the rest of the population and that the increased weight of the economic crisis and corruption does not immediately weigh on an already impoverished people, but on those who have always benefited from this unjust system, although they repeat that in order to distribute wealth, it must first be generated, forgetting the large accumulation of capital that results in the growth and profits of the largest financial and commercial groups.
But since it is very difficult to achieve the above, it is necessary that, on the social, political and cultural level, a basic work in the popular sectors be undertaken with a long-term vision, in order to form a citizenship enabling the construction of a genuine democracy that first of all involves the development of critical thinking, in order to avoid manipulations and as the basis of a democratic political education and culture, which leads to an awareness of the situation with an independent vision, as well as to a popular organization at the social level, cultural, political, economic, generating strong social organizations, producer and consumer cooperatives, popular political organizations aligned with ideologically clear political parties, that meet popular interests.
But it would be a long-term project that would be of little interest and that institutions that already dominate consciences would see with suspicion. These institutions are the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Churches, certain political parties, the media that transmit «tele-trash» under the pretext of “tuning rating” and some trade union and popular leaders who only care for their own interests. And even the sectors and the honest and disinterested people have difficulty to get out of their state of comfort and to change their mentality of “party of the notables“, manipulator, urban, «immediatist», electoral.
In addition, the above, to be effective and sustainable, requires a methodology according to which the promoters of change do not come from outside the popular sectors to intervene in them in order to “raise awareness and organise them”, but generate any process of change within, on their own, a process in which external actors can only provide the required support.
I hope to have contributed to this quick personal vision, but in order to have a more complete and objective understanding, it is also important to have other visions that see and analyze the situation from different angles.
(Interview by José Arias)
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