June 15, 2015

The Ecuadorian people mobilize against latest coup attempt in South America

Rally welcoming Correa on June 15th
Drew Garvie

On June 15th, thousands of supporters of Ecuador’s “Citizens’ Revolution” convened outside the Plaza Grande in Quito to welcome Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa back to the country. The night before right-wing opponents of the Ecuadorian government made some attempts to block traffic from the airport to prevent Correa’s arrival in Quito. The President was returning from CELAC-EU meetings in Belgium.

Last week, a series of demonstrations occurred, spurred on by support from opposition politicians with ties to Ecuador’s old neo-liberal regime friendly to US interests. The initial pretenses for the protests, was a newly tabled “Wealth Redistribution Law”. The corporate media in the country claimed that the new taxes would negatively impact working class families and small businesses, however the new inheritance taxes being introduced will only have an effect on the wealthiest 2 percent of the population. Telesur has reported on the details of the proposed laws:

“The law provides a progressive taxation schedule, meaning those inheriting more will pay more. Only three out of every 100,000 Ecuadoreans will ever receive an inheritance greater than US$50,000….
The highest tax rate of 47.5 percent, charged on inheritances above US$566,400, is in line with those charged throughout the world, and lower than those charged in countries such as Japan. Apart from only affecting two percent of the population, the law provides for important exemptions and deductions. For example, if the inheritance involves the transfer of a home, the non-taxable amount doubles from US$35,400 to US$70,800. The law also allows the inheritance tax to be paid via stock to workers of a company, democratizing the means of production and the state does not receive any money in these cases.”

Ecuador, through the “Citizens’ Revolution”, has managed to lift more than a million people out of poverty. However, inequality still remains very high, with Ecuador in the 132nd spot out of 160 countries. The progressive tax reform is being implemented to realize the new Ecuadorian Constitution which states that: “The primary duties of the state are planning national development and eradicating poverty, promoting sustainable development and equitable distribution of resources and wealth in order to bring about Good Living."

Reactionary protests in Ecuador. Signs read: "No more
dictatorship", "My work is for my sons", "Correa out"
At the June 15th rally after his return, Correa challenged the opposition: "Show me how this law affects the poor and I will personally ask for it to be withdrawn". But Correa and many Ecuadorians do not see the protests as really about this law in particular. They are part of a broader reactionary movement against the ongoing processes for sovereignty in Latin America. President Correa is referring to these protests as a destabilization attempt and part of a planned coup. There was already an attempted coup against Correa’s government in 2010. The demonstrators themselves are not limiting their message to opposition to the new tax law. They are calling for the ousting of the PAIS government and President Correa. They have adopted a black flag, to symbolize their mourning over the supposed “death of democracy”. Black also happens to be a favorite colour of fascist movements. The main sectors of society being mobilized in these protests are from wealthy neighborhoods. There has been violence at these protests, including the injury of a former Minister, who was struck by a glass bottle on the head.

There are many parallels with the coup attempts in Venezuela in 2014, where the right mobilized violent protests that led to the death of 43 people. This violence was in turn used by the United States to justify sanctions against Venezuela for supposed violations of civil rights, and also for the now totally discredited claim that Venezuela was a “threat to the national security” of the US.

South American countries standing up to imperialism have faced growing internal pressure, which is being directly and indirectly supported by the United States and their allies. This includes the belligerent role of Canada’s Harper government which has publicly criticized the Venezuelan government, met with and financed Venezuelan opposition groups, and has been implicated in the latest February 2015 coup attempt in that country. There is an immediate need for progressive and democratic forces in Canada to stand in solidarity with movements and governments in the Americas which are moving away from centuries of colonial and imperialist rule towards self-determination and sovereignty. This includes putting forward the demand that Latin America be considered a “zone of peace”, free from interference by Canada, the US, and other imperialist forces.

Participants at 18th World Festival of Youth and Students,
held in Quito, Ecuador in December 2013
In 2013, seventy youth from Canada attended the World Festival of Youth and Students held in Quito, Ecuador. This anti-imperialist meeting of youth was a venue for the exchange of ideas and experiences from around the world. Participants at the Festival met with Ecuadorian youth who described their country’s struggle for a more social and pro-people society with sovereignty over its own affairs. The international solidarity between young people in the Americas at that meeting is needed now to help mobilize against this reactionary coup attempt, and similar efforts to roll-back revolutionary processes on the continent.

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