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Since October 3, the political situation in Ecuador has become world news. This day marked a strong reaction by the social, indigenous and popular movement against a series of neoliberal measures required by the IMF in order to release a loan, announced by President Lenin Moreno on October 1.

Statement by MAS – Movimiento al Socialismo – IWL-FI section in Ecuador – 10/10/2019

On this date , the president signed decree 883 with which he ended the gasoline and diesel subsidy , which almost doubles the price of fuel. Along with this, he announced a pack of economic measures that would be sent to Congress for approval. The president has insisted these economic measures would safeguard the dollarization of the economy and its estability.

The economic measures have five central axis . First, the release of fuel prices, which impacts the cost of living of the population in general and greatly affects small and medium-size agricultural producers, as well as indigenous communities.

Second, the elimination of import taxes, which strengthens imports against national production, encouraging dependence of the country and threatening to increase unemployment. Third, a tax reform at the service of large companies that favors tax evasion and can lead to capital flight. The fourth element is an attack on the conditions of public employees, with a 20% reduction in salary and 50% of vacation days. Finally, the package includes a labor reform in favor of the precariousness and flexibility of working conditions.

In response, the movement has managed to stop the country for the past seven days. The process began with a halt of the public transportation sector that lasted two days. It ended when the union leadership negotiated the increase in the price of public transportation . After the third day,  indigenous comrades with CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) took the lead.

This generated a movement from the provinces to the capital. The indigenous movement blocked the interprovincial roads and was taking control of main provinces in Cotopaxi, Azuay, Cañar, Chimborazo, Imbabura and El Oro. At the same time thousands of indigenous people marched to Quito where they arrived on October 7 and were welcomed with solidarity of the population and universities. Since the arrival of approximately 15,000 indigenous people to the city, there have been clashes with the police and the army, a part of the movement tried yesterday to occupy the Legislative Assembly, but was severely repressed, with hundreds of prisoners, tortured, disappeared and injured.Today there have been huge mobilizations , during the national strike called by the CONAIE and other organizations such as the FUT (Unitary Workers Front), the Labor Parliament, the Popular Front, the CUTCOP (Unitary Coordinator of Workers, Peasants and Popular Organizations ), among others. The vast majority of marches have been against the government and its austerity measures, only in Guayaquil, the coastal bourgeoisie has organized a reactionary counter-march. Clashes and repression in the city center have also continued.Looting has marked protests in some regions, especially in Guayaquil. The media and government have taken advantage of this to justify the repression. In reality, although there are sectors that take advantage of the situation, looting is a desperate measure of people who do not want to starve. They are not, for the most part, events to steal flat screens or luxury items, but to have food. A good example of  this was the looting of  Parmalat, a milk factory.

Since October 3, the Lenin Moreno government decreed a state of exception after witnessing the population’s reaction . This decree restricts some freedoms: suspends the right to freedom of association and assembly throughout the national territory, limits freedom of transit, permits requisition if necessary, allows prior censorship of the media, as well as the possibility of closing  borders and ports , among others. Facing this, indigenous communities also decreed a state of emergency and took control of their land, including arresting military and police. They have also begun to form self-defense committees in popular neighborhoods.

In addition, since the uprising began, the president moved to Guayaquil and on October 7 declared it as the new seat of government. In this way, the government took these measures to avoid repeating experiences of previous processes, in which as the indigenous movement entered Quito, the mobilization took over the Legislative Assembly and  forced the resignation of presidents. In those processes, unfortunately, the movement gave the power back to the same people : that is exactly what we have to prevent from happening again. This debate becomes even more important because today Lenin Moreno is returning to Quito.In all the statements, President Lenin Moreno has been raising the tone, threatening to intensify the repression. At the same time, the United Nations, the Episcopal Conference and some universities are seeking to establish a dialogue with indigenous people. However, on the one hand, the president has declared that he is not willing to negotiate the elimination of the fuel subsidy  and on the other, CONAIE refuses to negotiate without the repeal of the decree that eliminates this subsidy. Thus, the government maintains a policy of firmness and repression, while opening a dialogue door, seeking to force it with the threat of a bloodbath.

We, from MAS, IWL section in Ecuador, have been participating since the beginning of the demonstrations in Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil, as well as helping to organize solidarity with the indigenous movement. From the CUTCOP and from the Assembly of the Peoples of Azuay, we call on the entire social, indigenous and popular movement, mainly CONAIE, to continue the mobilization against the austerity measures and not accept any dialogue that maintains the attacks on the people. We also believe that we must fight against repression, the state of exception and curfew as well as for the freedom of prisoners and for the annulment of the criminal proceedings that have been opened against protesters . The movement needs to continue organizing self-defense committees to face this situation. We call on the bases of the police and the army not to repress. Likewise, we call on CONAIE to seek unity of the movement. It is essential that the movement be organized in a unitary and democratic way, following the example of the Autonomous Popular Assembly of Azuay and that the process initiated with the occupation of the governorates of Pastasa, Cañar and Napo be continued.

We have to build a worker, peasant and popular alternative based on popular assemblies and say:  Down with the austerity package!  OUT with Lenin Moreno and the IMF !

Finally, we call on international trade unions, social and popular movements to send solidarity to the Ecuadorian people in our fair fight against the neo-liberal offensive.

Out with Lenin Moreno and the IMF!

Down with decree 883 and the austerity pack!

Down with the labor reform and precarious work!

No to repression!

Down with the state of exception and curfew! Freedom for political prisoners!

For the Assembly of Peoples with the participation of CONAIE, the FUT, the environmental movement, students, women, self-defense committees and other popular sectors !

For the Assembly of Peoples to discuss a government platform!

Translation by Blas (Corriente Obrera LIT-CI)