Major highways and roads were blocked across Ecuador today October 3 from the early hours of the morning, and in the major cities thousands mobilized and set up blockades to protest the latest economic measures announced by president Lenín Moreno. In the afternoon in response to the mass protests, Moreno announced a “state of emergency” which grants the executive greater powers like ability to mobilize funds, censure media, deploy police and military, and close transportation hubs all in the name of ‘security’.
Even with the “state of emergency” and heavy police repression to the protests with tear gas and baton attacks, the Ecuadorian people continued their mobilizations throughout the night. The Minister of Defense reported that 277 protesters were detained during the days events.
On October 1, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno announced new set of economic austerity measures based on agreements made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for 4.2 million USD in aid. Moreno’s Paquetazo Neoliberal or neoliberal package, as its been dubbed by movements, includes the elimination of four decades-old subsidies on petroleum and diesel, tax changes and labor reforms. The labor reforms take away hard-fought rights of workers, including cutting public sector workers’ vacation time in half and establishing that when temporary work contracts are renewed they will have 20% less remuneration, among other things. In addition to these, the IMF recommended Moreno’s administration reduce the number of public sector workers and increase private participation in state-owned companies.
Trade unions, social and political organizations in Ecuador vehemently denounced the measures as another attack on the most vulnerable sectors by a government set on sacrificing the well-being of the Ecuadorian people in order to appease international institutions.
In response to the measures, social movements, trade unions, peasant organizations, fishing communities, neighborhood organizations, students and political organizations called for mass mobilizations and blockades across the country for today, October 3. Transportation workers’ unions declared that they are entering into permanent mobilization and are on an indefinite strike, as they stand to be the most affected by the elimination of the fuel subsidy.
Today’s strike is the third time that Ecuador has experienced a complete shut down since Moreno took office and resentment towards Moreno’s government and his policies has been on the rise. The recent defeat of the legalization of abortion in cases of rape, the skyrocketing unemployment, and general insecurity have added to the general feelings of frustration and betrayal towards the government.
While Moreno ran for president on a promise to continue the legacy of Rafael Correa and the “citizen revolution,” he has shown time and time again that his allegiance is to the imperial powers and international financial institutions. The neoliberal economic reforms and agreements with the IMF, the military agreement with the United States, cancelling of asylum for whistle blower Julian Assange, and support to the far-right Venezuelan opposition are clear indicators that Moreno has all but continued the legacy of Latin American integration and anti-imperialist stances that characterized the prior government.
The protests are expected to continue tomorrow October 4.