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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ecuador wants citizen committees to defend gov't

QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador wants to create local citizen committees that would defend the government and its "revolution" — sparking criticism that the president aims to control opponents in a system reminiscent of Cuba or Venezuela.

Citizen Participation Minister Doris Soliz told Ecuador TV on Thursday that local citizen groups are needed to defend against coups like the one that recently deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, or against outside agitators, noting U.S. military plans to use Colombian bases.

"The great challenge in this new phase of the revolution is to create in each home a revolutionary committee, in each neighborhood a committee to defend the national government ... and to prepare for those who wish to destabilize us," President Rafael Correa said during his inauguration Monday to a second, four-year term.

Neither Correa nor Soliz provided details on how the committees would be governed or exactly what they would do, though Soliz said they would not be armed.

Critics say the neighborhood groups could evolve into Cuban-style community groups used to monitor and repress "counterrevolutionary" activities.

Venezuela has "communal councils" that decide how to spend government funds for community projects. President Hugo Chavez tried to give the groups intelligence-gathering duties last year, though he later withdrew his decree under protest from critics.

"What they want to do is control us in our neighborhoods, in our families, to know what we are doing and thinking to throw us in prison," said Lucio Gutierrez, former Ecuadorean president and an opposition candidate who lost to Correa in April.

Gutierrez said he will promote "democracy" and "liberty" committees to oppose Correa's neighborhood groups

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