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.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ecuadoran leader basks in pro-reform demonstration

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (AFP) 19 Jan, 2008 — Waving from a convertible to thousands of his followers lining the main avenue of Ecuador's most populous city, President Rafael Correa Saturday celebrated his first year in office, predicting a tough fight ahead for his socialist reforms.

"Get ready to continue fighting," the populist president told 100,000 people -- according to his own estimate -- who gathered around a makeshift stage where he sang and danced with his Foreign Minister Maria Isabel Salvador before delivering a speech.

"Confrontation is inevitable with party-run politics, mafias, corruption. But I'm convinced that, same as in 2007, every victory will be ours, every success will belong to the people of Ecuador and that the people's revolution will be irreversible."

Correa, 44, rose to power last year on a wave of leftist sentiment spreading through Latin America since Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998.

Like Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, Correa proposes to rewrite the constitution to institute socialist reforms and allow for presidential reelection. Currently he is serving a non-reelectable five-year term.

His first major confrontation came when all 57 members of Congress were fired in March of last year for opposing his reform plan. By plebiscite in September, a special assembly was created to draft a new constitution, which will be put to referendum in mid-July.

Correa hopes the new constitution will help regulate the economy and end the political volatility in a country that has seen eight presidents come and go in the past decade.

Correa on Saturday spared his followers no grief.

"I don't want to bring you down, but I'll be honest: the fight is just getting started and 2008 will be more difficult ... because together with the Constitutional Assembly we're going to change the system; once and for all we'll put an end to all these old structures" of power.

He also predicted failure for an anti-reform protest the opposition has organized for Thursday.

"Nobody pays any attention to them any more," Correa told his cheering followers. He called his opposition enemies "bullies, hoodlums and rich people who take the side of corrupt bankers" against the working class.

Opposition leaders claim Correa is destroying civil rights and local autonomy, and seeking to wield more power through his constitutional reforms.

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