Ecuadorian Political Theatre presents: Candidates for the Constituent Assembly

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Ecuador Rising – Hatarinchej features a collection of the right-wing candidates for the constituent assembly in Ecuador, which, by the way, is not going to rewrite the constitution, but engage in a political debacle that costs hundreds of millions of dollars and which is a struggle for particular definitions or limitations or interpretations (and so on) of the new constitution written by a group of carefully selected lawyers.

The colonos blog has said a bit about the trouble of the Ecuadorian, parliamentary (and the upper echelons of civil society) Left, the neo-socialist or neo-liberal left – which ever way you want to define the current political climate in quite a few Latin American nation states (you can here read a contribution by Rafael Correa to establish what that phenomenon is). This is a comment on the Ecuadorian right, which is even worse – as viciously rich and powerful as your next war criminal:

As you will understand the list of candidates is enormous, but that is the strategy of the right, of avoiding the discovery of the past commonalities that unite them with the traditional and oligarchical parties, of which they were part. It is useful to identify the true candidates of the people, the workers, the farmers, the students, the small retailers, the migrants, etc. They have the space, the candidates who offer to fight for the nationalisation of petroleum and the mines; those that want to eliminate the labor ‘casualisation’; who yearn to recover monetary, legal and territorial sovereignty, that the Right stripped from us with bad governments; those that dream of a worthy and sovereign motherland await your support. It is necessary to bury the parties of the Right, those named ID, PRE, PRIAN, UDC, PSC and, of course, the PSP, of ex-president Lucio Gutiérrez.”

and the list follows:

Candidates for the Constituent Assembly

“Ladies and gentlemen, Ecuadorian people, we here present the independent candidates, citizen of clean hands , sharers in common, patriots, politicians; all of them today presenting themselves in this tribune in order to shine as the members of an Assembly which the Motherland deserves; in order to re-lower the prices, in favor of dialogue and not of confrontation; to attract investment, to generate jobs and wealth and to keep the dollar, for secula seculorum…” – can you believe this?

Fellow citizens, it is time to expose the candidates of the rich industralists and their allies, who continue to try to control the country. Will you let yourself be taken by the hair and return the vote to them? Without any more introductions, here they are. These are the candidates of the Ecuadorian Right-wing for the Constituent Assembly, in Pichincha and at a national level:

Candidates for Latin America
– Mónica del Rocío Iza, Gonzalo Iza y Clara Iza: some family kinship, or pure coincidence? …
– Gilmar Gutiérrez, presently an oil industralist, ex-deputy for the SP.
– Fausto Lupera, collaborator of the government of Lucio Gutiérrez

National Candidate
– Ramiro Galarza, ex-Vice-minister of the Economy under Gutiérrez, partisan of the free market economy and the FTA.
– Mauricio Pinto, industralist, ex-minister for Finances in the government of Sixto Durán Ballen; councilman for the DP; president of the DP Monetary Junta; supporter of signing the FTA with the US.

National Candidate
– César Rohón, tuna industralist; was a member of the 1998 assembly, contributor to the privatisationist neoliberal Constitution that allowed the ransacking of public institutions and government properties. Contributor to the divisionist autonomy campaign underway in the country.
Provincial Candidate
– Blasco Peñaherrera Padilla, ex-vice-president under Leon Febres Cordero; partner of Buffet González-Peñaherrera, who is a legal adviser to oil-giant Petrobras; lawyer for the banker Nicolás Landes; defender of neoliberalism and the free company.

National Candidate
– Alvaro Noboa, ex-President of the Monetary Junta of Abdalá Bucarám; ex-presidential candidate; banana tycoon linked to the flour monopoly.
– Vladimir Vargas, ex-employee of Alvaro Noboa; model and manager of CN Model Agency.

– Roberto Ponce Noboa, cousin of Alvaro Noboa.
– Maria Elena Pontón, relative of Alvaro Noboa.

– Héctor Solórzano, Lawyer and personal friend of Abdalá Bucarám.
– Eduardo Armendáriz, Undersecretary for Small and Medium Industry in the government of Alfredo Palacio.

National Candidates
– Diego Monsalve, industralist, ex-deputy for ID.
– Eva García, ex-candidate to the vice-presidency of the republic for ID.
– Diego Borja, ex-minister of the Economy, government of Alfredo Palacio.

– Rosángela Adoum, ex-minister of education, government of Mahuad.

– Leon Roldós Aguilera, ex-vice-president of the Monetary Junta, ex-director of the University of Guayaquil during whose administration it attacked university students; a personage tied to the NGOs the Esquel Foundation, and Citizen Participation, with financing from the US.
– Gallic Macías Rizzo, industralist, advocate of abolishing trade unionism.
– Luis Hernandez, industralist, ex-ally of the Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez.

Additionally, there is Raul Patiño, Coordinator of the RED, who was minister for Social welfare in the government of Gustavo Noboa.

National Candidate
– Mae Montaño, industralist, ex-Manager of Esmeraldas Harbor Authority in the government of Alfredo Palacio; ex-member of Citizen Participation, and of USAID.
– Santiago Rivadeneira, industralist, manager of Solidario Bank, in favour of signing the FTA with the US.

The master-mind of Movement ONE, Eduardo Maruri, is an industralist linked to the Chamber of Commerce of Guayaquil; its agency Maruri Publicity produced TV ads for OXY, when it tried to convince the country of the kindness of the North American oil company.

– Oscar Ayerve, formerly a minister in the government of Lucio Gutiérrez.

– César Montúfar, disguised spokesman for North American interference by the US in Ecuador. He was a high-ranking employee of Citizen Participation, and tied to private NGOs.
– Pilar Perez, wife of the industralist Roque Sevilla, linked to Mahuad’s Popular Democracy, today the UDC.
– Carlos Aguinaga, ex-president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, affiliated with the UDC.

National Candidate
– Juana Vallejo, deputy and governor of Guayas Province, minister of Tourism, political quota of the Democratic Left party, ID.
– Alexander Carrión, ex-deputy of ID.

– Lucio Pablo Paredes, ex-Secretary of Planning during the government of Sixto Durán Ballén; defender of neoliberal policies and the signing of the FTA with the US.

– Humberto Mata, industralist and retailer from Guayaquil, ex-candidate to the prefecture of Guayas Province, related to the Buenos Aires aristocracy.


4 thoughts on “Ecuadorian Political Theatre presents: Candidates for the Constituent Assembly

    Amanda said:
    Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 14:33 (648)

    Dear publisher with great respect after reading this article i must expres my opinion

    first of all i think that the ecuadorian president has done lots of good and above all USEFULL work

    the new constitucion is lots better than the last one because first it was aproved by our people and second it was contributed by us ….ecuadorians

    i think that people must understand that the new constitucion will bring more oportunities and more understanding between people and goverment

    please dear ecuadorians dont you let that the same old, robbers and people who have just made our ecuador a playgrond fool us

    colono responded:
    Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 14:42 (654)

    Anyone who wants to understand what Rafael Correa stands for can suitably begin by reading this interview with Monica Chuji:

    Whither Ecuador? An Interview with Indigenous Activist and Politician Monica Chuji Print
    Written by Daniel Denvir
    Thursday, 06 November 2008

    Monica Chuji is an indigenous Kichwa activist from the Ecuadorian Amazon. She served as an Assembly Member from President Rafael Correa’s Alianza País party in the National Constituent Assembly, drafting Ecuador’s new constitution. Prior to Chuji’s election to the Assembly, she was Correa’s Secretary of Communication and spokeswoman. In September, she broke with Correa and left Alianza País, the culmination of months of increasing conflict between the President and Ecuador’s social and indigenous movements.

    Colombia’s March 1st bombing of a FARC camp in Ecuadorian territory and moves to seize the property of bankers responsible for the 1999-2000 economic crisis have strengthened support for Correa. But acrimony between the President and the Left has increased over social, economic and environmental issues. Social movements were shocked when Correa declared a state of emergency in November 2007 and violently repressed protests at oil installations in the Amazonian town of Dayuma. In July, longtime social movement ally Alberto Acosta broke with Correa. The former Minister of Mines and Petroleum, Acosta resigned as President of the Constituent Assembly over procedural and political disputes with Correa. Over the past month, there have been recent signs of rapprochement between the two wayward friends.

    The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and other groups criticize Correa’s support for large-scale mining and development megaprojects. Social movements unsuccessfully pushed for the inclusion of constitutional provisions that would recognize communities’ right to “prior consent” before mining or oil exploitation projects take place on their land. Another pressing issue is the Manta-Manaus project, which would build a multimodal transportation infrastructure between the Ecuadorian and Brazilian coasts, causing massive destruction to the Amazon rainforest. Indigenous Assembly Members also clashed with Correa’s allies over a proposal to make Kichwa Ecuador’s second official language. The dispute was settled by a compromise making Kichwa “an official language of intercultural relation” along with Shuar, the implications of which are unclear.

    The CONAIE is Ecuador’s strongest social movement. They played a key role in overthrowing President Jamil Mahuad in January 2000 and led successful nationwide struggles against a Free Trade Agreement with the United States and the multinational Occidental Oil. But internal divisions under former president Lucío Gutierréz, who co-opted some of the organization’s senior leadership, have shaken the organization. Now the CONAIE and other social movements are struggling to remobilize against the policies of a President with high approval levels and a Leftist discourse.

    Why did you leave Alianza País?

    It is important to give the context of how I initially came to form a part of Alianza País. It began when I was the Secretary of Communication and Spokeswoman under Rafael Correa. I was attracted to Alianza País’ project because I saw that the President and his party were speaking to popular demands during the campaign. These are historic demands for change that first came from the unions. After 1990, they came from the indigenous movement, who were among the first to propose a structural reform of the Ecuadorian state. They proposed a National Constituent Assembly as the only way to reform the Ecuadorian state. Later other forces joined—women, campesinos, Afro-Ecuadorians, the LGBT community and, very importantly, environmentalists. Many of the indigenous movement’s demands were, of course, already around territorial and environmental issues related to natural resources.

    How have these movements interacted with President Correa?

    Correa’s regime has capitalized off of all of this. He has collected this accumulation of historic social and political demands. Other presidents have done this, such as Lucio Gutierréz, who quickly broke this [government-social movement] alliance. Rafael Correa is also usurping this [political] capital, these demands, and beginning to push forward. Among these demands, of course, was the Constituent Assembly, to transform the country and put an end to neoliberalism. Social movements and the indigenous movement proposed an Assembly and a plurinational state as a model that would break with neoliberalism. Many of us began to identify with this project. This is when I decided to join Correa’s cabinet.

    When I decided to leave the cabinet and run for the Constituent Assembly, I made it clear that I would focus on the defense of the environment, natural resources, sovereignties, communication, collective rights—overall structural political reform.

    How were your relations with Correa at this point?

    Rather good. We always had an agreement that I would never take an assignment just because I was indigenous. I would never lend myself so that the President could say, “this cabinet is diverse because we have an indigenous woman.” I was excited because there was a possibility to contribute and to construct a different sort of communications system. Not to continue with the same old folkloric image that we are always used for. But we parted on good terms, although the President always had a certain resentment of the indigenous movement after they didn’t support his presidential campaign.

    He would sometimes say to me, “You, from the CONAIE, are only 2%.” I told him, “You cannot judge, disqualify, and underestimate a historic movement when you know that the indigenous movement, led by the CONAIE, is a very strong political force.”

    You can’t judge the CONAIE based on one year’s election results. [The CONAIE’s 2006 presidential candidate, Luis Macas, received only 2.18% of the vote.]

    Exactly. And I always told him so very respectfully. But he always had his doubts. The same with environmentalists, whom he would call “a group of extremists.” And he campaigned with a strong environmentalist discourse. So, while I left on good terms, I also saw that he was beginning to open up his cabinet to opportunists, people who were coming in through the back door. This started to become clear after his second month in office. I realized that I couldn’t have much influence inside the cabinet and thought that I could have a greater effect in the Assembly.

    Was there any sort of a general consensus in the cabinet at this point?

    There wasn’t a plurality or a clear idea of where we were going. But I thought, well, the President is the one in charge here and perhaps he is changing direction. I began to see the effects of this shift when I arrived in the Assembly. I began to see a continuation of the same old line and of the extractivist model. There was no change on this issue. In fact, there was a deeper radicalism: “here comes large scale mining, period. We’ll continue with extracting oil, period.” There wasn’t a discussion about a post-oil economy.

    Was there a moment earlier on in his Administration where these issues were more under debate?

    Yes, when I was in the cabinet there were discussions. At this point there was a lot of support from Alberto Acosta. For example, there was a proposal from the Ministry of Agriculture to plant 20,000 hectares of African palm. I said, “This isn’t an alternative for the country. African palm is a monoculture that endangers crop diversity and food sovereignty.” And Alberto Acosta argued the same line. We began to be a minority within the government.

    Another clear example is ITT. The Taegheri and Taromenane peoples [in voluntary isolation] live in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini area. This is the Huaorani people’s territory. Ecuador’s indigenous people, in accord with international agreements and the 1998 constitution, asked for this area to be protected. The President, who is very intelligent, said, “Great. Let’s leave the oil underground and see how many countries will supplement the $500 million a year we would lose.” He knew that this would be very difficult to accomplish.

    Will the new constitution help protect these areas?

    The same sort of doublespeak continued into the Assembly. We have an article that states ‘Exploitation in protected areas is prohibited. But, in exceptional circumstances, the President of the Republic, with the permission of Congress, can exploit.’ He knows that he’ll have a political majority and will be allowed to exploit the ITT or whatever protected area. We opposed this, but couldn’t muster the votes. The majority of people in Alianza País are people who obey, who have electoral ambitions. They follow what the president and the [party] executive committee say.

    What do you think are the most worrying things about Correa?

    The people mobilized in Dayuma and were repressed. There was a mobilization in Cuenca against mining projects and the president got on the radio and said, ‘If twenty of these crazy ecologists are protesting, I’ll call 20,000, or 200,000, residents to confront them.’ What is this? What sort of regime is this? This is socialism of the 21st century?

    What sort of party is Alianza País?

    From the beginning, it was clear that there were two tendencies within Alianza País. A Left and a Right. And the indigenous members have, even though we aligned ourselves with the Left, always had our own distinct identity, as well. We were many more at the beginning, but a lot of people have become afraid. We thought that our biggest opponents would be the Right, but it turned out to be people inside our party.

    The people the President called a lot of you infiltrators.

    What I said is that he is the real infiltrator. I didn’t come in through the back door. I didn’t infiltrate this process.

    Why did you decide to leave the party now?

    There were three moments when I almost resigned. The first was during the repression in Dayuma. I decided not to, because I thought that outside of the party I would not have influence. The second time was the day when we were voting on the constitution in the Assembly, but I didn’t because many of my colleagues convinced me that the Right would take advantage of it. But a third time, with his rhetoric against social movements and human rights activists becoming more extreme, I couldn’t do it. It became clear that there were now two political projects: Alianza País’ project and the original project.

    Why did you support the new constitution?

    The new constitution, albeit in a limited manner, reflects a lot of the people’s aspirations. It is the product of a collective force. It is one step forward in this process. Maybe that’s an end for Alianza País, but for me and for the Ecuadorian people, it is just a step forward.

    What were the most important advances for indigenous people?

    A big point was the recognition of collective rights. Article 57 states that the government “recognizes and guarantees indigenous commons, communities, peoples and nationalities in conformity with the constitution and agreements, conventions and declarations and other international human rights instruments for the protection of collective rights.”

    Will there still be a struggle for prior consent before natural resource projects are undertaken?

    A lot of this will be determined through secondary laws and through peaceful resistance and uprisings. We must be protagonists. The President was just in Brazil negotiating the Manta-Manaus project. Were we, the people of the Amazon Basin, consulted? No. Do we have a right to be consulted? Yes. This is another example of this administration’s rightward drift. Changing everything to change nothing at all.

    We need to demand honesty, transparency and plurality. I think that one has to be coherent in life, to die with a clear conscious.


    Daniel Denvir is an independent journalist in Quito, Ecuador, and a 2008 recipient of the North American Congress on Latin America’s Samuel Chavkin Investigative Journalism Grant. He is the editor in chief of

    Photo from Presidencia de la República del Ecuador

    colono responded:
    Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 14:43 (655)

    …so while the “new Ecuador” is better for the middle class and those already trapped in the cash economy, it is looks pretty dire for the indigenous and the peasants

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