The National Assembly of Ecuador censured and dismissed the minister of government, María Paula Romo, from her position through a political trial on November 24. With 104 votes in favor, 18 against and 12 abstentions, the legislators approved the motion of censure and dismissal against her. The motion was presented by legislators Roberto Gomez, Lourdes Cuesta and Amapola Naranjo of the Social Christian Party (PSC), who accused Roma of failing to fulfill her duties during the 12 days of national protest carried out by citizens in October 2019 against the government’s neoliberal economic measures.
Romo faced impeachment for allowing the use of expired tear gas canisters by the national police against protesters during the October 2019 demonstrations and the launching of those explosive devices inside the peace and humanitarian aid centers installed at the Salesian University and the Catholic University of Quito, where the protesting Indigenous people, peasants, students and workers were staying.
According to the data from the Ombudsman’s Office, the excessive use of police force during the October 2019 protests caused 11 violent deaths, left 340 people injured, and over a thousand people detained.
The decision was celebrated by Indigenous and student organizations, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and the Federation of University Students of Ecuador (FEUE), which took part in the protests last year and protested outside the parliament a day before the plenary session calling for Romo’s removal.
Former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa also reacted to Romo’s dismissal. “Maria Paula Romo censured and dismissed! It was a short but nefarious story of a woman whose ambitions and perversity had no limits, to whom an inept traitor gave full power. You will have to face true justice for your crimes,” wrote Correa in a tweet.
Post her impeachment, Romo faces the possibility of being subjected to legal process for the death of protesters, excessive use of force in police repression against citizens, among other cases.
After Romo’s removal, President Lenín Moreno appointed Police General Patricio Pazmiño as the new minister of government.
Romo took the position on August 31, 2018. Her dismissal represents a severe political blow for Moreno, since Romo was considered to be his right hand and was one of the most significant faces of his administration.