Correa is a capitalist. Nothing more, nothing less?

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Recently an ex-pat Ecuadorian commented in this blog that we had it all wrong and that our pessimism was disrespectful to the Ecuadorian people. It now seems that our opinions are very similar –in some ways– to what the mainstream analysts come up with.

Two articles, as usual compiled by Ecuador Rising, sum it all up. Go read them if you want to know who had it all wrong:

Left with Paradoxes – interview with Economist Pablo Dávalos, who “served as undersecretary to Rafael Correa when the now-President was Minister of the Economy under the previous Administration of Alfredo Palacio in 2005. He’s an advisor to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and member of the Latin American Council of Social Scientists (CLACSO). Although he supported Correa’s successful presidential bid, he is skeptical of the direction the government is taking.”

IRC Americas Program Report: Ecuador’s Prolonged Instability – in which the claim is repeated that Correa’s movement is a consumerist middle class movement living off remittances from their estranged, emigrated families and boosting the supermarkets and car industries.

So, yea, nothing new really, —politics is business as usual–, except that what colonos have been suggesting all along, and which passed our dear commenter by, is now the general talk of the town.

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3 thoughts on “Correa is a capitalist. Nothing more, nothing less?

    Noqanchek said:
    Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 07:45 (365)

    Hola amigos,

    While I certainly appreciate your reference to Ecuador Rising, I must point out that it is primarily a method for gatherign analysis and news about what is unfolding in Ecuador. For example, I have my own disagrements with the two articles mentioned above. I am, however, also constrained by time limits on how long I can spend responding to such ideas.

    So, consider it a compliment that I have decided to post here.

    I think it remains untested as to whether it is really “business as usual” under Correa. While some things certainly appear to have undergone no change whatsoever, concentrating on these misses the point.

    “Nothing has changed” at most moments for most of the past decades in Venezuela, yet it has reached the point it has. The revolution in Venezuela has been threatened with strangulation – not only from the opposition, but more dangerously from the internal bureaucracy – for all of those years, and now as much as ever.

    In a situation where there is not the massive violent ovethrow of one government and its replacement with a revolutionary government, things by necessity change more slowly initially, and are filled with contradictions. It is how these contradictions play out, and how much the masses of people exert their power in determining the direct of the process, that dictates the success of otherwise of the project.

    I do not presume to know the future of the movement in Ecuador, but I remain, with Paulina, optimistic, and apply my criticism, when it arises, in the ever increasing hope that things can and will change for the better.

    colono responded:
    Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 12:40 (569)

    In a sense we remain optimistic as well, else we would not even bother writing critically about the processes!

    One set of points, however, that we are not missing, but which almost everyone else, as usual, is missing, is the situation of the indigenous peoples who live in the forest.

    As an indigenous grass-roots, environmentalist activist said to us recently:

    “For us, Correa is a disaster”.

    What the government of Correa wants is a new Ecuador in the image of European social-democratic thinking – new roads for all the new cars that the remittances buy, more bridges and in general what is called industrial, entrepeneurial development in the Amazon. To sustain that trajectory Correa will assign more power to the police and the army to keep under control any dissent from (in particular) indigenous peoples. But what kind of socialism assigns power to the army to keep the people down? What kind of socialist threatens poor, illiterate people with “the rule of law” enforced by the army?

    In such an environment it is difficult to remain positive, but we try; it is difficult to be “fully supportive” of Correa’s movement, but we try to be supportive by continuing to be critical. To be critical of something is to lend it a helping hand – it is, to deploy sarcastically an analogy, like surburbanites polishing their car on Sunday: they do not do it to remove the paint of coat, but to make it shine!?!

    Some basic issues remain, however – and Paulina chose not to respond to this – and we have not seen anyone else respond to it either, anywhere; what remains is some constructive engagement with the questions concerning the actual (and indeed intended) power of the constituent assembly, when Correa has already signed major economic convenios left and right that will determine the future of the country. What is there left to be decided upon, from the perspective of the indigenous peoples, if it is clear that Brasil will invest billions of dollars in oil exploration in Amazonia, the army will build roads and bridges through the forest and with militant means keep protestors at bay? The “corredores inter-oceanico” will help Brasilian urban consumers get cheap plastics from China and the trees and the oil back to China so that they can produce the plastic to come here – but what about the people who live along the Napo river, what should they do when the river becomes an hidrovia – a concrete, river motorway with mega(lomanic) dams and excessive and not very well thought out hydro-electricity installations??

    We remain sceptically positive – but perceive an urgent need to remain sceptical as a consequence of working with indigenous peoples and also because there is no shortage of uncritical cheerleaders in the European “socialist” realm. Many individuals, groups, organisations have always been unconditional supporters of Castro’s Cuba – but how can we sit back and let homosexuals and saxophone players be persecuted without a word – simply because it is “part of a socialist project”? How can we sit back and let the forest be destroyed in the name of progress protected by millitary powers? Therefore, as perhaps one of the very few voices who are not to the right or far-right, we remain critical and sceptical.

    When we do not live in Ecuador we live and work with environmentalist groups in Europe, who for a long time have been fighting against the expansion of car culture – more roads, more cars. Are we really expected to cheer for more roads and more cars in Ecuador, simply because it is something like “a human right” to have a car – or two per household? Rush hour in Quito now looks like any other big city – is that a good thing? For Correa and his supporters it is – the more the people can consume, the better. This is not a viewpoint, an ideology, a cosmovision that we share – we have seen to where it leads.

    Take a stroll through MegaMaxi in Quito and you think you’re in California – huge shopping trolleys filled with imported sausages, fine wine from Spain and huge plasma screen TVs to watch Brasilian soap for the (upper?) middle class – all wrapped in excessive amounts of plastic- is that what we should be optimistic about? Is that a future Ecuador worth celebrating?

    Mr. Correa speaks of sovereignty all the while the Ecuadorian economy is rushing ahead on imported consumer goods. Why is he not, for example, supporting community-based cooperatives in Amazonia, who could make a sustainable life for themselves and take care of the forest in doing so, and strengthen the Ecuadorian economy from within and from below – instead of either simply forcing them off their lands or into the natural resource extraction industry that kills the forest? The poorest and the most marginalised are not empowered, but threatened?!?!

    Franz Fanon said something insightful and inspiring in the context of anti-colonialist struggles:

    “So, comrades, let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institutions and societies which draw their inspiration from her.

    Humanity is waiting for something other from us than such an imitation, which would be almost an obscene caricature.

    If we want to turn Africa into a new Europe, and America into a new Europe, then let us leave the destiny of our countries to Europeans. They will know how to do it better than the most gifted among us.

    But if we want humanity to advance a step farther, if we want to bring it up to a different level than that which Europe has shown it, then we must invent and we must make discoveries.

    If we wish to live up to our peoples’ expectations, we must seek the response elsewhere than in Europe.

    Moreover, if we wish to reply to the expectations of the people of Europe, it is no good sending them back a reflection, even an ideal reflection, of their society and their thought with which from time to time they feel immeasurably sickened.

    For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man [sic].”

    The key issue here is to be found in the sentence: “…it is no good sending them back a reflection, even an ideal reflection..” in particular in the words “..even an ideal reflection..”.

    Rafael Correa holds a PhD in Economics, the most Euro-American of academic disciplines, the most capitalist of all academic pursuits – the academic discipline where moral and ethical issues are stripped off and “politics” has become an exercise determined simply by mathematical equations. It shows. Even if it is a very lovely-jubbly social-democratic vision that is applied to the handling of those equations.

    There is no way – simply no way at all – that the Euro-American developmentalism can include all people. It is based on exclusion to maintain a ready, cheap labour force. When people are helped to consume imported products, to buy new cars and provided more roads for their Sunday drives, someone, somewhere will suffer – even if not in the immediate surroundings. People will become poor, somewhere, somehow – someone will be marginalised if progress and development is of the industrial kind – for it is simply not a manner in which humanity can progress in global solidarity – it is the opposite of mutual aid, it is, simply, survivial of the fittest and each to their own.

    We already live in a world of overproduction – there is even too much food produced all the time, yet people suffer and starve.

    So what to do? Well, what is common in Euro-America is to build prisons to get rid of the people who do not conform, who cannot conform and who do not starve to death.

    That is how the modern world in Europe began – that is the characteristic aspect of the transition into modern, industrial capitalism – and is that not, in part, what we see reflected in the article “Call to Confront Delinquency in Ecuador”? Where do those “delinquents” come from? Are they genetically disposed to such acts, should they be screened out – or are they simply victims of structural implications that deserves attention other than from prison guards?

    The rule of law is coming to town, but it is not a self-legislative rule of law, it is not a rule of autonomy or self-determination – it is a rule of the state, top down, and always leads to further marginalisation of the weak and the poor.

    Nevertheless, the blog entry which gave rise to your comment had a carefully inserted question mark: “?” – to suggest that we remain sceptical and critical, but optimistic: business as usual?

    Comment on Comment - is Ecuador Rising? « colonos said:
    Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 13:27 (602)

    […] on Comment – is Ecuador Rising? We are flattered to have received a comment from Ecuador Rebelde, who runs the Ecuador-Rising blog that we often link to and the RSS feed of which we feature in the […]

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