The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ecuadorean Opposition Plans Parallel Congress After Shooting

By Alex Kennedy and Bill Faries

March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuador's suspended lawmakers, in a challenge to President Rafael Correa, plan to hold a parallel session outside Quito after police blocked their entry to the capitol and two supporters were wounded in a drive-by shooting.

Congresswoman Gloria Gallardo said opposition leaders now have backing from more than two-thirds of the 100-member congress to meet as an alternative assembly next week. Riot police used tear gas yesterday to stop the lawmakers from reaching their offices after the electoral court suspended the ``political rights'' of 57 opposition members last week.

``We're seeing a regime that's an authentic dictatorship,'' former President Lucio Gutierrez, a leader of the opposition Patriotic Society party, said in a telephone interview from Quito. ``Violence has been rising in a dangerous way, and it could at some point turn into a civil war in Ecuador.''

The shooting, which occurred outside the Marriott Hotel, where the lawmakers retreated, deepens a clash over Correa's plans to remake the country along what he calls socialist economic and political lines. Correa's proposal for a new constitution -- the trigger for the current showdown -- echoes steps taken by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales to consolidate their control over the congress, courts and election authorities.

``They abused their power, they thought they were immune,'' Correa said in comments broadcast on the Cablenoticias television station after the legislators were shut out of their offices. ``Now they're getting a taste of their own medicine,'' he said.

`Quiet For Now'

Ecuador's congress voted March 6 to replace Supreme Electoral Tribunal President Jorge Acosta after the court backed Correa's plan for a national referendum on re-writing the constitution. The next day, the court suspended the lawmakers who sought to remove the judge, ruling their votes violated the constitution. Correa supported the court's decision and said the lawmakers would be replaced.

The top constitutional court yesterday rejected a request by the president of congress to rule on the legality of the suspension.

``With this situation, Correa's ability to govern will be reduced,'' said Claudio Loser, former director of Western Hemisphere affairs at the International Monetary Fund and a political analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

The U.S. Ambassador in Ecuador, Linda Jewell, said on Cablenoticias that the conflict among Correa, the congress and the courts is a domestic situation.

``We're going to be quiet for now,'' she said.

Correa, 43, a U.S.-trained economist who served a five- month stint as finance minister in 2005, won 57 percent of votes in a Nov. 26 run-off election in which he ran without the formal backing of any political party.

`Government Crisis'

During and after the campaign, Correa aligned himself with Chavez's socialist vision, vowing to boost spending on the poor, renegotiate foreign oil contracts and review Ecuador's approximately $10 billion in foreign debt obligations. Venezuela on Feb. 22 offered Ecuador as much as $500 million of ``financial cooperation.''

Correa took office in January as Ecuador's eighth president in about a decade. On Jan. 30, about 5,000 of his supporters tried to storm congress to demand lawmakers approve plans for a referendum on the constitution.

``Correa is forcing a government crisis,'' Loser said. ``This is going to get investors even more nervous.''

Ecuador has twice backed away from threats to default on debt payments since Correa took power. Finance Minister Ricardo Patino said March 8 that the country wouldn't ignore foreign debt obligations.

``Our creditors should know that we're very responsible,'' Patino said.

Congresswoman Sylka Sanchez said in an interview that the shots were fired from a passing motorcycle carrying two people. One of the opposition lawmakers' supporters outside the hotel was hit in the back, the other in the leg.

1 comment:

  1. Que mierda que habla Lucio Gutierrez!