A summary of the Ecuadorian revolution: the rise of the Constituent Assembly

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Roger Burbach’s informative piece called “Ecuador’s Popular Revolt: Forging a New Nation“, although dated October 8 seems to be written before the landslide victory of Correa’s alliance became clear:

Final results won’t be known until late October, however preliminary results indicate that Correa’s party, Alianza Pais, won around 70% of the vote, giving it some 80 of the 130 assembly delegates. Correa can also expect support in the assembly from representatives of the Socialist Party of Ecuador — Broad Front, the Movement for Popular Democracy and indigenous party Pachakutik — Nuevo Pais.

The outcome was a huge blow to the right-wing opposition, whose traditional parties all scored pitiful votes. The Social Christian Party, the country’s largest party, scored less than 4%. The “anti-corruption” PRIAN of Alvaro Noboa — Correa’s opponent in the presidential election run-offs last year and Ecuador’s richest man — scored around 6%.

However, this does not make it any less valuable – it provides a summary of the Ecuadorian revolution that is well worth a read. Whether it quite warrants such a conclusion is another matter:

In Ecuador, as well as in much of Latin America, we are witnessing a revolution from below, a popular awakening that is challenging the traditional political parties and demanding a new system of governance that responds to the interests and needs of the popular classes. It is this rich mixture of forces at the grass roots that is opening up new vistas as the 21st century advances.

There are at least two things that need to be reflected on here:

1. Ecuador has experienced an exodus since dollarisation (2000), millions of people have left and are now working mainly in the U.S (mainly Florida) and in Spain. Their remittances are third to only oil and bananas – and the millions of Euro (bought and sold in the streets of Quito alongside) US dollars are being spent in flashy, air-con supermarkets on imported commodities. This new class of people – who vote for Correa – drive flashy cars (the amount of which has exploded accordingly in Quito) and want more roads, cheaper petrol. They want political stability and improvement – development – just like in Europe, the U.S. and in Asia. They vote for global capitalism – spanish sausage, chinese gizmos, Californian red and Malibu rum. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with that, but the revolution, then, looks suspiciously familiar: another middle class take over operation, attacking the Old Guarde and mobilising the people to do so. Needless to say, the indigenous peoples and other subsistence farmers of Ecuador – who might be significantly more than 30% (a disputed number!) – cannot cash in on most of this.

2. The development projects that Correa, together with, mainly, Venezuela and Brasil, are working on are classic neo-liberal projects: dams, hidrovias (rivers + concrete) and refinaries – and who will suffer the most, yet again? Of course the inhabitants of the Amazon rain forest, which will be chopped up into little pieces in the process.

This is not to say that there are no good things happening in Ecuador – by all means necessary, do get rid of the corrupt old bastards – but what about the young corrupt bastards that replace them? What about the rain forest? Is there no other way forward than “forward, forward forward”? Is socialist progress any better than any other flavour of progress when it kills the birds and the bees? Is this socialism? No love for the trees?
Inconclusively, what is the role for socialists from outside of Ecuador with regards to the Ecuadorian revolution – to applaud and sit back and watch the fellow traveller create a consumerist middle class with no critical remark to offer?

One cannot help to note that Burbach’s piece, well written and informative as it is, seems to focus on satisfying an anti-American or anti-imperial sentiment (there is a big market for that) and on that account fail to inject some criticism that could only strengthen the Ecuadorian revolution.

Hopefully the indigenous organisations, the extra-parliamentary left (working very hard at the moment, but with little media coverage or attention paid by anyone outside of Ecuador) and other radical forces will keep Correa on his toes. A more critical – and that is to say, really, constructive, perspective by socialist and of course anarchist commentators is needed to keep the movement alive.

More about Correa’s development projects here.

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