Ecuador: “In this Election, We are Choosing Between Life and Death.”

By Carlos Aznarez, January 29, 2021

Caravans of Hope

We are just a few days away from the highly important February 7 election for the presidency of Ecuador, which Andres Arauz, the candidate aligned with the views of former President Rafael Correa, has a good chance of winning.  We spoke with journalist Ivonne Amores  about the climate of political expectation currently in effect there.  She is part of the Bulla Zurda – Left Uproar – collective and when we interviewed her this week she was participating in Quito in one of the many Caravans of Hope that are part of  the campaign that Arauz is carrying out throughout the country.

“We are here now on the Caravan of Hope. This campaign is confronting four years of the Moreno government, a government that has neglected the population in this pandemic, so much so that we are the country with the highest mortality rate per number of inhabitants in the whole region. This is exactly why this campaign of the team of Arauz and Rabascall is being called the “campaign of hope.” This campaign also proposes to recover the economy to get people back to work, increase social, economic and political rights, and, above all, also to reclaim human rights.

We must remember that in 2019 Ecuador lived through hard episodes of cruel repression, which left a balance of illegitimate detentions against leaders of the Citizens’ Revolution, as well as accusations of rebellion against leaders of Indigenous movements. Related to this, Andres Arauz traveled through the Amazonia region and had the opportunity to meet with Jaime Vargas, who, as we recall, was instrumental in the April 2019 national strike, precisely because he is a prominent person in the Indigenous movement.  Last Wednesday Andres, in his journey through the Amazonia, saw this leader, which is indicative of the popular support that he is creating.

What we know for sure is that the Team of Hope is leading in the polls.  Up to now, people are talking about a victory in the first round, prompting people to campaign tirelessly, because ultimately and basically, in this election we are choosing between life and death.  Between the political life that we have become accustomed to with the last four years of Moreno and the hope of getting work again, of guaranteeing the lives of the men and women of Ecuador, and, above all, of re-invigorating our weakened public health system and reversing the massive layoffs done during the pandemic.”

Andres Arauz, in his recently made statements, said that he will not yield to the mandates of the IMF agreements signed by Lenin Moreno, so we are talking about an embargo, practically speaking, of the economy of Ecuador by the International Monetary Fund.  

“Exactly, in fact, the current government proposes – people from social movements have alerted us to this – a privatization of the Central Bank of Ecuador, which would cause us to lose the national autonomy of the Ecuadorian economy.  The business and banking sector would take control of this last stronghold of the public sector.  Before the transfer of government on May 24 when the new Cabinet comes in, they are talking about privatizing the Social Welfare Institute of Ecuador (Instituto Ecuatoriano de Previsión Social.)  This would mean more misery and poverty for the people, as well as a health system like that of Chile. That is why this election is so critical.

Andres Arauz has said, on various occasions, and has reiterated this in the debate organized by the National Electoral Council, that he will not yield in negotiations with the IMF.  He stated it in that manner, as if the IMF were going to try to take over Ecuadorian sovereignty as a first premise. They will not be able to extort from us based on the loan done now between the IMF and Ecuador.  There is no possibility of giving in.  But we are facing a devastated economy, where the small economic efforts and mid-sized businesses have suffered the brunt of the impact of the pandemic. Also, it is necessary to note the payment of the two billion dollars that the Moreno government, via the Ministry of Finance, carried out right in the middle of the pandemic. This is what is causing support for the Team of Hope to continue to increase in the streets.”

What interests do Arauz’s opponents represent?  Specifically, I am asking about Guillermo Lazo or Carlos Perez.

The first premise, for those of our companions who are not clear in their minds about the current scene, is that Carlos Perez is calling himself “Yaku” in this campaign, indigenizing and folklorizing his name to try to get those votes.  Both he and Guillermo Lazo were part of the Moreno government; they were both part of the scarcity of medical supplies in the hospitals in the midst of the pandemic.  Furthermore, they have become an international scandal because the president has trafficked medical supplies during the pandemic and Guillermo Lazo participated in this affair.  He is responsible for the shame that the people have suffered with Lenin Moreno.  For his part, Carlos Perez declared, in the debate carried out by the National Electoral Council, that if they were to gain governing power, they would continue the current bilateral relations with the United States, and because he believes that it is also of primary importance to have such relationships, because they are meaningful.  But we know that they have brought us only death.

At the foreign policy level, what is Andres Arauz proposing, and what would be the relationship with the new U.S. President Joe Biden?

Andres Arauz and his cabinet are proposing national sovereignty, in the first place.  In the debate, he proposed that if it had been possible to act as a UNASUR bloque, it would have been easier to obtain vaccines, for example. Regarding the community of knowledge, which Ecuador lays out as part of the Buen Vivir (Good Life) culture, it would have been far more feasible to negotiate for the purchase of vaccines as part of equitable South-South relations, with all that we share both culturally and economically. However, due to the relationship of profound inequality that Ecuador has, this week they left us 12 thousand vaccine doses for a population of 18 million inhabitants.  Of those 12 thousand vaccine doses, the majority were immersed in corruption scandals, since it became known through business channels of communication that members of the circle surrounding the Health Minister were those who actually received the vaccine: his mother, his brothers, as well as the executives of the large corporations who form part of the inner economic circle of Ecuador.  In this sense, Andres Arauz makes an appeal to internationalism, to relationships of mutual respect and linked to sovereignty – he emphasizes this a great deal – in power, reviving UNASUR and the mechanisms of relationships among the peoples of our Americas.  With respect to the United States, he proposes a relationship that is basically one of coexistence, without arousing other hopes.

Source: Telesur, translation Resumen Latinoamericano North America bureau