Ecuador: “Arauz Will Seek National Unity Agreement”

Carlos Aznarez Hernandez

Virgilio Hernandez is one of the leaders of Correism working the hardest for the possibility that such political definition (all that the Citizen Revolution represented) will return to the government. Hernandez is an elected Andean deputy and is a member of the electoral campaign bureau of candidate Andres Arauz. He was harshly persecuted along with other militants for confronting the government of Lenin Moreno, and now he is promoting the difficult stage that will continue until April 11, when the second round will take place and “Arauz will be the new president”. We spoke with Virgilio Hernandez about the present and the future of Ecuador.

Finally there is a contender to face Arauz in the second round, after both Guillermo Lasso and Yaku Perez agreed on a recount of votes. But it seems that Lasso got cold feet and decided to proclaim Arauz as the winner.

These two candidates had agreed with the authorities of the National Electoral Council (CNE) and the Organization of American States (OAS), to recount the votes, 100% of the votes in the province of Guayas, and 50% in 16 provinces. But then, the candidate of the seat retracted his pact and this forced the CNE to continue with the electoral process established by law. By law, any challenge process has to happen once the results of the first round are proclaimed and the challenges that the political actors believe have to be made, are established. Then, if there are well-founded reasons on the part of the candidacy of Yaku Perez, when the results are proclaimed, they must present themselves and that will force the scrutiny of all the minutes that have been challenged and all those boards that have any doubts, in order to comply with the law.

It seems strange, because after the agreement between the CNE, the two candidates and the OAS, with all the fame that the latter gained after participating and validating the coup d’état against Evo Morales, suddenly Guillermo Lasso realizes that this does not suit him and gets out. Even if it were not serious in terms of what is happening in Ecuador, this shows the state of certain politicking in this country. How are you evaluating this scenario?

From the very first moment we said that in view of the result, of the confidence that the citizens have placed in us by giving us a victory that at this moment exceeds 3 million votes and that represents 33% of the valid votes, our position was, and Arauz confirmed it, that the opposition should do the counting, so that in this way it is clear that our intention is the defense of the will of the citizens. We have always stated that democracy is the process where the people decide and there can be nothing that would interfere with that. Anyway, this was our position and, as the saying goes, we “watched the bulls from afar”, noting how pacts were made. Why is this happening? Because whoever heads the CNE is a representative of the forces that are in second place. The president comes from the indigenous ranks, she was a deputy of Pachakutik, she was presented to the CNE as a representative of the indigenous communities and nations, she was proposed by CONAIE, and the one who claims to be vice-president was also proposed by the movement. So this conflict is raised by the CNE itself because the authorities represent only two candidates who were disputing the second place. The second element that has led to this crisis is the irresponsible action of these officials leading the CNE of releasing quick count results when the difference shown in the quick count was less than the margin of error. This is what caused doubts. Uncertainty about an electoral process damages it and distances it from transparency. They have been the ones who have sown the uncertainty. We kept away from that and from this discussion, which without a doubt is not what the people are interested in. The people want their vote to be respected and that is all. All this back and forth is very far from the Ecuadorian people. On the other side of this false scenario, our electoral candidate took the opportunity to do a tour, visiting important cities and countries. He was in Mexico to talk with Ecuadorian migrants, also in the United States, where he has met with investors, with representatives of the IMF, and obviously with migrants. We are doing our part, the presidential candidate is looking for conversations so that the world can see that we are going to be a country respectful of the relations that are made within the framework of sovereignty which affect the majority of Ecuadorians in the same way.

In terms of foreign relations, and in terms of internal affairs, what are you proposing in order to gain support for the second round?

We are focused on presenting to the Ecuadorian people the need for a national unity agreement, capable of integrating the different sectors of the country, an agreement for production. One of the main concerns is industry, the reactivation of employment, so the agreement is for the reactivation of production, of agriculture, these are the concerns and we are looking for solutions. We are also looking for answers to the issue of vaccines. Now Ecuador is one of the countries that has been receiving the least amount of vaccines, they said that 80 thousand were arriving and not even 40 thousand were immunized and only 8 thousand arrived. We believe that in the last days 16 thousand more arrived, and among those there are serious problems regarding how they have been used, it is said that friends, relatives of ministers and those in high positions have been vaccinated before those who are in the front line of combat. Faced with this Arauz presented a program that aims to immunize millions of Ecuadorians to address this major health problem in Ecuador and the world.

We agree about the difference between Arauz and the second, Lasso, but the real danger is that if the votes of the two contenders (Yaku Perez and Lasso) plus the people of Izquierda Democratica are united, what alliance framework is left for you to balance and win in the second round?

I think it is more than an alliance between party leaders, politics in Ecuador has long realized that the votes are not of the party leaders but rather of the citizens, and citizens beyond the orientation of the parties, basically, try to discern in the second round, who is the candidate that represents the aspirations for change. I believe that now Ecuadorians see that the government we are currently under, Lenin Moreno’s, is an anticipation of Lasso’s. In fact, the electoral result of Guillermo Guillermo Gutiérrez’s election was the result of his election. In fact, the electoral result of Guillermo Lasso is a consequence of the link with Lenin Moreno. So, if people would like to know what Lasso’s government would be like, they already have a background, they already know what they would do and where the agreements with the IMF would take us, the people know what it means to be subordinated to those governments. The people know what it means to govern for the banking elites and for great economic powers, neglecting the people. So there is an awareness among the people that a government like Lasso’s is the continuation of what Lenin Moreno’s government has meant and this proved to be catastrophic. For this reason, 95% rejected Lenin Moreno, and it is a government that is concluding with almost no credibility among the people. Lasso is the continuity of that.

You were saying that Arauz visited several countries, among them the United States, and that he saw people from the IMF. What are you proposing to the IMF that is doing so much harm to the country as a result of the agreements with Lenin Moreno? What will Arauz do in relation to the agreements that were signed?

Arauz held a press conference upon his return to the country to comment on his conversation with the IMF. In general terms, what he said is what he has stated in meetings, prior to this one, with the IMF. It is necessary to maintain the growth of the economy, together with social development, without sacrificing the people, without sacrificing the majority of Ecuadorians. It is necessary to think of more heterodox models and not those that have failed in Ecuador and in different parts of the world. Arauz pointed out that in the next few hours we will have the details of the conversations and points of view with the IMF.

I suppose that they intend to open up to the Latin American reality, from which Lenin Moreno isolated them. Are they going to reinstall the dynamics that Rafael Correa installed at the time?

I think it is fundamental to continue on that path, I am speaking as an Andean parliamentarian elected in the last elections, for us integration is fundamental. Integration issues have to be assumed without political labels. Those who are enemies of integration, those who seek subordination to the powers label UNASUR as if those models were the socialism of the XXI century and this is far from the truth. When UNASUR was endorsed, president Uribe, who is now accused of everything, also signed it, but there is no suspicion that he is inclined to the processes of socialism of the XXI Century. The same can be said of Piñera, who promoted the UNASUR process, which shows that integration processes must go beyond ideological labels, because they must resolve common problems in the region. In this case, with the problems the world is going through, if the unity of UNASUR had been maintained, there is no doubt that the possibility of access for the countries with fewer resources, such as Ecuador and Bolivia, would undoubtedly be better if it had been conducted on a regional basis. It is necessary to make citizens understand that integration processes are not processes where the national resources of each one of the countries of our peoples are squandered. Rather, integration helps to resolve and confront the region’s problems. A different reality would have been possible if the integration processes had been carried out, if the architecture processes that were planned in UNASUR had been implemented, surely we would have had the possibility of a Southern Fund, or a Bank of the South, which was a longed-for project. This could have certainly brought aid to our peoples in times of crisis without going through draconian conditions such as those offered by the IMF. As Arauz pointed out, we will promote integration processes that help to solve common problems in the region and we will be respectful of world relations within the framework of equality of states, sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples.

What kind of campaign will you be carrying out between now and April? Will it involve touring the country? How will you win the support of the people?

At this moment it is important to use all the existing mechanisms to reach Ecuadorians, we must continue appealing to the traditional mechanisms, that allow us access especially to radio and television stations in the interior of the country. The big media have already decided that while Arauz had one minute, the candidate of the bench would have four. Basically, the news is focused with a negative bias, but for the candidate of the bench the great presenters became sponsors of the candidate of the bench. The bias of the media in Ecuador is aberrant and will continue. The national media will also have something to say. We will also have to continue using all the platforms that this new technology era allows us, using network mechanisms that democratize information. We have a strong background and experience in face-to-face campaigns; in the territory, in the door-to-door campaign, in visiting citizens in their neighborhoods and communities. We will work on reaching the greatest number of citizens so that they can vote informed, on the basis of deciding which is the best option for the country. Leaving behind sequels of hatred and revenge that have been the leitmotiv of Lenin Moreno and his allies. Ecuador requires national unity, an agreement for employment, security, health, education, democratic institutions and integration with sovereignty.

Translation by Internationalist 360°