We the women and men of the Americas know full well that on April 2 Ecuador will be facing a decisive electoral battle. We know that there is a lot at stake because the result of this election will determine whether Ecuador will be able to continue on the path they initiated 10 years ago or return without glory to the previous years known as the holiday for the banks and the foreseeable economic meltdown, social disintegration, political instability and violence that will follow.
The outcome of this battle will also determine a lot about the future of the region and its direction. And it would be no exaggeration to say that a defeat of the neo liberal conservative restoration project in Ecuador would also serve as a signal to several European countries in demonstrating that there is an alternative formula to get them out of their crisis other than the fascist and xenophobic right.It wouldn’t make sense to stop at the remarkable achievements made in Ecuador in the last decade. These include economic expansion and diversification of international trade, all put towards social inclusion and equality, the fight against poverty, the advancement of equity in what was one of the most inequitable countries in the world, a remarkable expansion of public education and public health, the development of an impressive infrastructure of roads, transport and communications, national sovereignty despite being part of in an international system shaken by deep contradictions. Nevertheless this country, relatively small in territory but big in its dignified character, offered to the world sanctuary for a crucial character of our time. A person who provided important information about the hidden mechanisms of the despotic nature of capitalism. Julian Assange remains alive and in freedom today thanks to the asylum granted him by the Government of President Rafael Correa. All this advancement, which of course does not mean that problems don’t exist, will be tested in the runoff on April 2. The recent history of Latin America teaches us that seemingly unshakable achievements promoted by progressive and left governments were removed without much ceremony and without major resistance when the right took over the helm of these countries. This happened in Argentina with the election of Mauricio Macri, in an illegal and illegitimate way in the cases of Honduras, Paraguay and, just a few months ago, in Brazil.
To think that the right in Ecuador will honor the rules of the democratic game to gain control of the government, or that they will respect the will of the people is dangerously naïve and goes against everything we have learned from the lessons of our history. A look at the policies implemented by these governments once they get rid of their progressive predecessors is enough to convince us of its inherently oligarchic nature and its revengeful mode of operation.
For those who think that this attitude does not exist in the forces of the right, just remember the threat issued by the former Mayor of the Ecuadorian city of Baños, who when he saw a crowd surrounding the National Electoral Council the night of February 19 said that he will set Quito on fire if they confirm the victory in the first round of the candidate of Alianza País, Lenin Moreno. That is an example of what could happen in Ecuador with a triumph of the right.
What has happened in other countries of the region should be carefully examined by the Ecuadorian electorate. In Argentina the conservative restoration has produced massive cuts in social programs along with exorbitant increases in the rates of utilities, layoffs and a dizzying fall of real wages, all of which has caused a rapid resurgence of poverty in the country. In Brazil, severe measures of adjustment have resulted in the hiring freeze of the public sector until the year 2030, ignoring the increased needs due to the increase in population and the elimination of overtime pay for workers. This will attract foreign investment and will have a similar result to what has come down in Argentina. In Honduras and Paraguay the retaliation for the audacity of choosing democratic and reformist Governments (Mel Zelaya and Fernando Lugo respectively) triggered the cruel revenge of the traditional sectors of power and was accompanied by the dismantling of the social inclusion policies with a repressive fury that has made Honduras the most insecure and violent country in the world.
About the unfinished business and the errors of conception and implementation committed, the Government of Rafael Correa was no exception. But nevertheless the decade of gains in Ecuador can and should be preserved. Nothing of what has been achieved there was the product of chance or randomness. High international prices facing countries of the region and social injustice remained intact because there was no political will present except in Ecuador. The Correa government took advantage of the crisis of the world economy to include large sectors of the population in making major changes after decades and if not centuries when they had no input into their own destiny.
Unlike other countries, in Ecuador it was a political decision to seize the moment, and there was also the leadership of President Correa, indispensable to a greater or lesser degree, in making promising opportunities happen. Even more significant was that this country had to embark on a program of reforms and changes without having a fundamental instrument of macroeconomic governance or monetary policy. As we all recall, the bloc of right-wing forces arising today in the name of change was responsible for the 1999 economic and financial cataclysm that produced profound political and social consequences.
Thanks to the work of a coalition of bankers and oligarchs and other traditional groups – who today are shamelessly protected and shielded by the hegemonic press – there was the collapse of the economy with disastrous results. The euphemism for this failure is called “bank holiday “, and is an expression of large businesses who are favored by the big banks and today are clamoring to return to the government with a record that harmed the vast majority of the Ecuadorian population in a devastating way.
The irresponsibility and lack of patriotism of those leading groups cost Ecuador the loss of its monetary currency and the mutilation of a fundamental component of their national sovereignty; the loss of the Sucre as its own currency and the forced replacement with the dollar. It also provoked the massive emigration of around 2.5 million Ecuadorians who had to leave the country to survive. This is the shady background of those who today seek to resurrect themselves as the saviors of the homeland.
Confronting this threat at a historic juncture, when the global system is now characterized by a high degree of uncertainty of the so called “world order” makes this election a crucial one that will affect future generations. Now Ecuador, like few times in history, has destiny in their own hands. To act rationally and with patriotism, Ecuadorians will have to remember and to ask themselves what were the opportunities of individual progress and social wellbeing that were offered in Ecuador before the “Citizen Revolution”? They must also ask if they have more rights today or if they want their children to be under a government of unscrupulous bankers who have always despised the people, and the possibility of an end of their right to education, to medical protection and other social rights won in recent years.
This recognition for the people of Ecuador is essential while the media dictatorship tries to overwhelm them with lies. To achieve their goals they bombard the people relentlessly with spectacular news of corruption that after a while collapses under the weight of their own lies. There is a steady stream of baseless allegations and personal attacks on leading figures of the government, all in an effort to convince the people that they are in the hands of a gang of criminals. The impertinence and unscrupulousness of the opposition bloc has no limits; its strategy has been to blunt the population with an endless waterfall of lies and infamy that can only be confronted and thwarted by the collective memory of the history by the people. To neutralize these attacks it will be necessary for each person to remember how they were before and how they are now. Could they dream that their children had the opportunity to go to a university back then; did the State ensure health care which is a reality today?
The answer of these simple questions will persuade the people of Ecuador that only the formula of Lenin Moreno-Jorge Glas will be capable of continuing the same road that has changed Ecuador for the better. To opt for those responsible for the “bank holiday” will bring the country to a crisis even graver that the one that took place in 1999.
The world will be watching what Ecuador will decide on April 2. Will the people of Ecuador ignore the “media terrorism” taking place and continue to march forward toward a new and better society or will they get caught in the false propaganda and embark on a comeback trail the ends inexorably in the abyss?
To foresee their future in case the candidate of the Ecuadorian bankers succeeds, Ecuadorians should look in the mirror of the Argentina and take note of the suffering and despair of its people taking place in the conservative restoration. We rely on the wisdom and memory of the Ecuadorian people and therefore we are sure that the second round will be an overwhelming victory for Lenin Moreno and Jorge Glas.
We, the friends of Ecuador, have confidence that the results will be like that and the light that has shined strongly in the middle of the continent will continue on for the sake of Ecuador and all of humanity.
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