Ecuador: Right-Wing Populism or Proto-Fascism

Alejandro Salazar take to the street of the Ecuadorean capital Quito against the policies of the government of President Lenin Moreno. | Photo: Reuters 2018

No one should be oblivious to what is happening, and probably will happen in Ecuador politically in the short, medium and long term. I am referring to the rise to power of the ultra-right, represented by the alliance between the oligarchy and financial capital. The 21-6 government does not bode well for a country that has already been hit hard by the neoliberal model, which has democratically renewed its contract to continue 4 more years in power.

Reduction of the education budget -which has meant the desertion of thousands of children and young people from the educational system. Mutilation of the health budget -which has meant the loss of thousands of lives in an unprecedented health crisis. Excessive spending in the repressive apparatus -which evidently does not translate into a reduction of crime and violence rates. Elimination of fuel subsidies -which continue and will continue to increase, making products, services and the cost of living more expensive. Reduction of the employment rate and exponential increase of unemployment, and many other anti-popular measures that the country is now suffering and will continue to suffer the next 4 years of deepening of the neoliberal model.

However, and although it may seem daring to say so, the economic consequences are perhaps the least worrisome, if we are aware of the social cost of living under this model of government.

Guillermo Lasso -the right-wing populist, as many categorize him- came to power with proposals that, although being an evident and cynical exercise of demagogy, did not fail to deeply penetrate the ears, minds and hearts of a country submerged in ignorance, fear and hopelessness.

Five hundred dollars minimum wage, elimination of the higher education regulatory body SENESCYT, 9 million vaccinations in the first one hundred days of government, one million jobs, regularization -deportation?- of migrants, and other unrealistic delusions won the souls of Ecuadorian men and women. These same souls have not realized the real danger that this type of discourse represents in deeply conservative and fearful societies such as ours.

Lasso, together with the social Christian clique, headed by Jaime Nebot, represent the true danger of fascist discourse and exercise, which is increasingly on the rise in our society. How can we forget Nebot’s famous words, when he encouraged the flying squads to “use their weapons” because “if a rotten portion of the citizenry must fall down, then it will fall down”.

For practical purposes I will resort to the definition of fascism coined by the XIII Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International in 1935. It points us to fascism as: “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic and imperialist elements of finance capital”. A definition quite applicable to our future ruler.

Some will say, no, that does not apply here, does it? Let’s review. A short time ago, the same dangerous banker and university graduate who is now president-elect, touted and defended the proposal to legalize the carrying of weapons. He himself asked -and they complied- for the veto of the Organic Health Code, because the Catholic discourse for life comes before public health. The friend and coideario of the rector of the USFQ, an honorable man with the last name of Gangotena, who says that the poor should not vote. The same one who wants to include Ecuador in the Pacific Alliance -at the cost of liquidating the small national industry- and who has shown himself as a carpet ruler for the North American interests and whims in the country, announcing the signing of an FTA.

The worrying thing about all this, however, is where these situations are nurtured. Fascism, hate speeches, xenophobia and the supremacy of capital are discourses that are sustained by the population itself. It is impossible to think that Lasso’s triumph was possible if many compatriots did not blindly believe in the banker and what he represents. Fascism -what some intellectuals naively or cowardly call “right-wing populism”- is a project above all of the masses. We have the nearby example of Brazil with Jair Messias. It is evident that Bolsonaro counts on people willing to defend him at the ballot box, in the courts and in the streets, if necessary.

We know that the fight will be difficult, far from the false encounter proposed by the ultra-right that governs with 53% of popular support. At the same time, the field of action will be limited because the camouflage of statesmanship will not be permanent and will soon reveal its true face: repression, extermination of the popular classes, persecution and imprisonment.

The social fabric -which is badly wounded at present- will eventually break down, because there are those who, in the name of freedoms they do not have and properties that are not theirs, will support and legitimize the control and systematic exercise of violence. There will also be those who will resist, only to suffer the obvious consequences, because we know that the ultra-right is anything but tolerant.

Calling things by their name is one of the first steps to face what is coming. Survival as a slogan and solidarity and mutual care as a practice will allow us to understand what will happen with the Ecuador of tomorrow, something that, for now, does not bode well for the vast majority of the people.

Translation by Internationalist 360°