Ecuador: Five days of national strike. The mobilization moves forward

By Alberto Giovanelli

Five days after the start of the strike decreed by CONAIE and other social organizations, the mobilization continues to spread. The government of Guillermo Lasso, meanwhile, insists that it is open to dialogue to find solutions to the demands of the protesters. But simultaneously it has developed a repressive policy in which, in addition to detaining Leonidas Iza, the main indigenous and peasant leader, for a few hours, it has reacted with violence to the blockades that are taking place basically in the south of Quito. “As a
government we continue choosing dialogue” is heard in official offices and in statements in the search for “consensus.” But they say nothing from those same offices to send a response on the ten demands of the movement whose central claim revolves around the increase in fuel prices.

Until now, all the social organizations that have joined the strike have withdrawn from the negotiations with the government due to the lack of agreements and responses. Some leaders of the transport employers appear next to Lasso promising a normality that in reality they have not been able to guarantee.

Meanwhile, the CONAIE leadership remains in the province of Cotopaxi, which continues to be the epicenter of the demonstrations. That is also where the forces of repression have suffered the most blows, due to the retention of several of their members (it is estimated that approximately 50 police officers are in the custody of the protesters). In addition to being one of the provinces with the largest indigenous population, the Indigenous and Peasant Movement (MICC) is based, which led Iza to be one of the faces of the October 2019 strike and to the presidency of Conaie. That is their territory and they are their bases. As soon as Iza’s arrest was known, the province and especially its capital witnessed the strength of the indigenous communities that were present to demand her release. And it was from Salcedo where the leader made two announcements that could be key to the future of the national strike: If the Government does not respond to their demands delivered on June 13, they will advance towards Quito starting next weekend and he also called the other social groups that demonstrate in the different cities to form a single popular assembly, in Cotopaxi, to unify their demands and confront the government. Demonstrations are also spreading with increasing strength in several parts of the country, and in cities such as Quito and Cuenca the shortage of basic products is beginning to be felt. The provinces with the most activity continue to be Cotopaxi, Pichincha and Imbabura, with different sources of protest, especially on highways and in some city centers. In Quito there were mobilizations of school transport, taxis, students, retailers and some unions. While in Cuenca the university sector manifested itself, not only students, but also teachers and administrative staff.

As we have detailed in previous articles, in addition to the reduction in fuel prices and setting new rates: a gallon of Diesel at USD 1.50 and a gallon of Extra and Ecopaís at USD 2.10. the demands add:

Time extension and renegotiation of debts with reduction of interest rates in the financial system.

Setting fair prices for farm products: milk, rice, bananas, onions, fertilizer, potatoes, corn, tomatoes and more.

Public investment policies to curb job precariousness and secure the popular economy.

Time extension on the expansion of the extractive mining and oil frontier

Audit for comprehensive repair due to socio-environmental impacts.

Stop the privatization of strategic sectors: Banco del Pacífico, hydroelectric plants, CNT,
IESS, highways, etc.

Price control policies and speculation in the market for basic necessities.

Assignment of an urgent budget to stop the shortage in the hospitals.

Guarantee the improvement of the educational infrastructure.

Security, protection and generation of public policies to curb the wave of violence and crime.

The process of revolution that started in 2019 continues

Today’s demands are almost a replica of those that fueled the great processes of struggle of October 2019 and that cornered the previous government of Lenin Moreno. We remember that they were part of a regional process of struggles in Latin America, fundamentally in Chile, Colombia and Peru. In Ecuador, Moreno and all his ministers had to flee from Corondelet (Government Palace) and could only be sustained by the agreement and “consensus” with the government policy of the CONAIE leadership itself. We refer to these facts, because that continuity of the crisis process, which was encouraged by the pandemic, repeats some players and we cannot rule out that the same responses will also be repeated. The just claim made by the indigenous communities and the social movements should be accompanied by the call for the broadest unity of action, but at the same time the most absolute respect for the democratic decisions that should be debated by these same organizations in Assemblies with mandates of the bases must be guaranteed. Unfortunately, this is not the tradition of the CONAIE leadership in general, nor of IZA in particular.

For a socialist and revolutionary anti-capitalist pole

We understand that the willingness of the Ecuadorian people to fight gives us revolutionaries, once again, an extraordinary opportunity to unite behind a program of real change. It is an indispensable condition for all these struggles not to end in new frustrations that a new revolutionary leadership unites to fight relentlessly against the evils that condemn millions of Ecuadorians to misery, which are nothing more than the foreseeable consequence of the expression of the chronic crisis of capitalism, also in Ecuador. There is no way out within the framework of capitalism. If it is not defeated, all the fights will be the beginning of new frustrations. That is why we understand that it is urgent the coming together of everyone of us who claim to be anti-capitalist, internationalist, socialist and revolutionary in an organization that consistently fights for the liberation objectives of our people, and that prevents so much will to fight from being channeled once again by the siren songs of the reformists and the fiery speeches of the false left. From the International Socialist League (LIS) we will not rest until we achieve these objectives in Ecuador as well.