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News :: International
Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
20 Apr 2005
CUENCA, ECUADOR – By a unanimous vote Ecuador's lawmakers removed President Lucio Gutierrez from office Wednesday and replaced him with Vice President Alfredo Palacio, following days of intensifying street protests.

While the focus of media attention has been on the capital city of Quito, the southern city of Cuenca has been in open rebellion against its former president for the past week. The discontent had been simmering for some time but in the weeks and days before the ouster of Gutierrez it reached a boiling point. Daily, students manned street blockades and fought pitched battles with police over control of the streets while across town the main park overflowed every night with a diverse array of people who had come to protest the president and government.
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April 13th was a general strike in both the cities of Cuenca and Quito. After that the anti-government rebellion steadily increased. The mayors of Ecuador's three largest cities – Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca – as well as the Vice President denounced President Gutierrez, who was the central enemy of the dissidents.

The street blockades near the University of Cuenca began a week before the general strike and were at first very small, but the students and their allies grew to resemble something more like a rebel army. The discontent in this city has been great for some time but only after the general strike did masses of people gather in peaceful protest on a daily basis. The Saturday after the strike, a prominent local politician called for demonstrations against President Lucio Gutierrez that evening, both in the main park and at the soccer stadium. Thousands came, and continued to come each night until Gutierrez was removed from power. Every night the streets echoed with the sound of car horns sounded in support of the demonstrators.

The students commandeered city buses at will and forced them to park across the road to guard against police attack. They milled around in the street for a few hundred yards in territory they controlled while perhaps a hundred feet from the edge of this stood a tight line of riot police. The police occasionally made a concentrated attack and
with the aid of a tank and large amounts of tear gas, pushed the protesters into the University and freed the buses. Within minutes the students would take another bus and occupy the same area they were just driven from. Most wore shirts over their face and had either a Molotov cocktail or rock in hand ready to throw during the next tank attack, which was much more frequent. Some wore thick gloves on their hands and threw the burning tear gas back at the police during the larger attacks. All were very committed to their cause.

When asked why they were here fighting the police, most gave long passionate explanations. Their fight extends far beyond the president. They were there to fight against capitalism and Ecuador's potentional inclusion in the Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA) as much as they were to oust the president. There is a strong Socialist influence at the University and a powerful anti-American undercurrent permeates the streets around it.

At the main square there were many families present. When asked a number of parents gave their children as the reason they were in attendance, saying they wanted them to have a better future and a better government, few people singled out Gutierrez.

The two groups disagreed with each others tactics but had a common goal and agreed that they are each helping each other reach that.

The night before Gutierrez was removed from power the students took commandeered buses from the street blockades near the University to the main square just as the other protesters were beginning to arrive.

There was a large military presence in the square but when the demonstrators arrived they quietly walked away. The police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd causing the group to splinter into many.

These smaller groups, pushed away by more tear gas roamed the dark streets in search of each other. Many city residents who were in the area were absorbed by the growing roving bands. Protesters snaked through the center of the city the next morning at will, the police
did not interfere.

The entire city was in rebellion. Now that Gutierrez is gone the streets are filled with celebration rather then discontent but it is uncertain how long this will last. The people who were in the streets here may not be satisfied with just a new face that will likely soon grow to look the same. They want something much more drastic, and they have the momentum. When the mayor and some other politicians came in support of a recent demonstration here, the chant quickly changed to – all politicians out – and the group was forced to the outskirts.
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Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
20 Apr 2005
[second article from a Boston Local]

After two weeks of protest and violent clashes between Ecuadorian citizens and the police, Congress voted today to destitute President General Lucio Gutierrez from power.

Ecuadorian President Ousted by Congress and Military

The vote was almost unanimous with 60 votes in favor and 2 abstentions.

The army removed their support from the President this afternoon while Jorge Poveda, Commander of the National Police, presented his resignation quoting a "general unwillingness" of his forces to fight against the masses.

A national strike and thousands of citizens came out to the streets starting last week to protest the increasing deterioration of democracy and civil rights in Ecuador.

Protests were led by several local officials and organizations when a Supreme Court imposed by Gutierrez government back in December pardoned ex-president Abdala Bucaram, exiled in Panama, under allegations of extreme corruption.

The greatest tension broke last Friday, April 15th, when Gutierrez imposed a state of emergency which he quickly removed 24 hours later after protesters took the streets asking for his resignation.

According to the Associated Press at least 10,000 people — banging pots and sticks and shouting "Get out, Lucio!" — were marching in the streets as Gutierrez made his announcement Friday.

Riots in the capital last night resulted in the destruction of many businesses and the Ministry of Social Welfare, set on fire by angry protesters.

Clashes with the police lasted all night and resulted in as many as 180 injured. The only reported death was of Julio García Romero, a Chilean journalist, allegedly from cardiac arrest.

According to a local newspaper protesters finally headed home after six hours of rioting. "Many left wih tears in their eyes because of the repression but promised to return the next day and get rid of the dictator," reported El Hoy.

In earlier hours of the afternoon and before the vote in Cogress, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, met with Gutierrez to express her "concern for events ailing the country."

Ecuador is strategically crucial to the US government in the fight against drugs in Colombia and other Andean countries. The largest US military base in South America resides in Manta, Ecuador.

Vice-president Alfredo Palacio, isolated from all executive power by Gutierrez for over a year, will be assuming the Presidency in Ecuador.

In other news, negotiations continued today between Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and the United States on provisions of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. Issues debated include intelectual property of generic drugs, patents on biodiversity, and the escalation of food product imports from the US.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
20 Apr 2005
story today on free speech radio news as well:

http://www.fsrn.org/news/20050420_news.html

Increasing Troubles on Ecuador's Streets (3:30)
Protests continue in Ecuador, as demonstrators demanding the resignation of President Lucio Gutierrez pack the streets of Quito, hoping to reach the presidential palace.  Last  December, Gutierrez eliminated 27 out of 31 judges on the Supreme Court citing bias- although under mass public pressure, he fired those replacements on Friday. As protests continued and a nation-wide strike was underway, Gutierrez issued a state of emergency last weekend, then lifted it one day later. Although up to 50,000 crowd Quito's streets, demanding Gutierrez quit immediately, he says he intends to stay in office. Protestors have been met with riot-clad police and armed forces, who used up to 1,500 tear gas bombs last night alone to clear demonstrators. Joining us to talk about the latest developments in Quito is Juana Sotomayor, with the Center for Economic and Social Rights. Can you give us an idea of what is going on in Quito?
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
20 Apr 2005
This article is great at painting a picture of the actions of the ritoers and the police and army reactions but barely mentions why the people are protesting. Just general discontent is a reason given. How about an article with a bit more substance this crap is a good representation of the Roman Circus that the media has become. Give us a bit of meaning to what you write and stop making football match out of every issue.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
20 Apr 2005
Thanks for the 2 articles printed below the original they arre much more informative of the situation.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
21 Apr 2005
that is certainly a valid criticism - the article doesnt go deep enough into the issues. i knew that when i wrote it. my thought was, that i had a unique perpecive from the streets and you could read a different article that was more factual. you could write an article about this from outside the country (in fact i would imagine this is true with a good number of articles), but you coudnt describe what the streets were like. No one was describing what it was like in Cuenca, everything was about quito or filled with numbers and facts. i wanted to fill that void, i wanted to describe what it was like in cuenca, because no one else was doing that.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
21 Apr 2005
It is nice to get a play-by-play sometimes. The broader analysis of what's happening/happened comes before and after. If you're curious, hey, look, you're on the Internet--there's plenty of information available about the political struggles that are the context for these events. To complain that the first article you read doesn't meet your full range of needs is just self-centered and demanding. For some of us, to get to read something like this the day of, written by someone who's there, is also appreciated. I wouldn't call it "crap" or "football match"--sometimes it's good to communicate horizontally about how to actually do these things (blockades; general strike; commandeer buses; wear thick gloves for tear gas; insist that all politicians get out of the process). Thank you John for the news from Cuenca.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
21 Apr 2005
As an ecuadorian raised in the mess we call USA, I send my full support to all of those organizing against the Capitalist force we impose on others for our benifit. It makes me proud to see you rise above what drowns me.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
21 Apr 2005
wow.
I'm astounded at the spirit of humanity caught in that story, images in mind of those rising in the streets to overthrow "leadership" that they know doesnt represent them. who was it that led many here in armed uprising ... hmmm... will Americans ever rise up again, I wonder.

I think the first hand eye-witness acounts rock - bring us more, as many as u can find.
Oh, Its all good... all equally "true" or "untrue" as all is relative to what you already believe and what u can think is possible - we'll all make up our own minds -
Bravo Indymedia, and keep the news flowing in!
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
22 Apr 2005
i'm interested in tis FTAA. send along material if you wish.

regards
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
22 Apr 2005
I am perplexed. I thought that all of you libs, anarchists and hippies were against war. What happened, did you change your tune.
Re: libs, anarchists and hippies
22 Apr 2005
Your perplexed because you have never been informed (by mass media, ect...) that anti-war is not the same as pacifist.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
22 Apr 2005
There is a difference between war and social movements that are able to effect regime change through popular protest (the violence in this case, came from police forces).

I am no expert on Ecuador, but I have been studying nearby Bolivia and a little about the region in general. From what I can see much of the conflicts arising between social movements and their governments has been sparked and supported by various aspects of globalization.

On one side is the Neoliberal policies of the Washington Consensus, implemented by the IMF, World Bank and WTO through Structural Adjustment Programs and other methods. They promote privatization of publicly owned utilities and enterprises, the shrinking and decentralization of government, and the reduction and normalization of any trade restrictive tariffs. Throwing these economies to the forces of the market.

On the other side you have the globalization of the social movements, many of which are realizing and affirming the value of their own indigenous identities for the first time. This globalization has many aspects including, certain strains of development that empower people (instead of govt. agencies), the advent of the internet and cell phones, the growing number of NGO's inside and outside of the country, and possibly even the decentralization reforms (giving money and decision making power to municipalities) that were pushed by the World Bank and IMF themselves.

So this is not war, per se, but rather an international disagreement between those who would say multinational business and economic power comes first and those locally and globally who would say the social and economic rights of human beings should be respected above all.

South America is the flashpoint because the majorities are often extremely well organized and strongly against neoliberal reforms, and the neoliberal reformers have strong pull on the governments that they are not willing to let go of. Leaders are consistently deposed because they are walking an impossible tightrope between the two.

The next few years promise to decide the whole shebang as leaders are rising that not only say they are left (even though their actions say otherwise, ie Lula in Brazil, Chavez in Venezuela), but really are left like Evo Morales in Bolivia, leader of the Movement towards Socialism Party that is pushing for the nationalization of the oil industry.

Our own government is taking serious notice of the situation, as Rumsfeld was recently quoted referring to the region stretching between Venezuela and Cuba as the new "axis of evil".
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
23 Apr 2005
Having visited Ecuador recently and having stayed in Cuenca for over a month I saw first hand the damage of globalization policy in Ecuador. Largely this is American policy. Ecuador signed GATT in 1945. Ecuador’s growth and prosperity has been stagnant since then. WTO and The IMF have forced policies on Ecuador that have stolen it's natural recourses and forced programs of little use to average Ecuadorians. The agreements forced on Ecuador has put Ecuador into a debt that their GNP can not repay. IMF's electrification policies brought a light bulb and an outlet to every house regardless of their ability to buy light bulbs or any appliance to plug into that outlet. The WTO and IMF policy of infrastructure built a road system throughout the country. This allowed US companies to deforest the country. Every El Nino since deforestation has created landslides that block these roads and make them impassable. Privatization of the basics of life like water, communication and fuel has placed the people in positions that questions their very existence.

In 2000 independent banana growers won a long hard case against the EU in the world court. They won close to 400 million in damages. The US and the EU dismissed this court ruling and settled the dispute between themselves after Robert Linder CEO of the almost bankrupt Chiquita donated 1 million in 1999-2000 to the Republican party. Banana growers in Ecuador got not one surce, their coinage. Complete details can be found at http://www.focusweb.org/publications/2001/Equador_WTO_big_banana.html.

As I left Ecuador a water main to one of Ecuador's towns burst. The villagers knowing that the privatized water company would be taking their sweet time making repairs arrived on the scene with shovels and dug a trench 15 miles long burying a new pipe all by hand.

I had a rather different view of America and it's citizens when I returned to NYC. I support their struggles to rid themselves of our imperialistic polices forced on them by GATT, WTO, IMF and our new attempts to further screw the Ecuadorians by US trade representative Robert Zoellick's Andean Trade Agreement. It is rather unfortunate that our trade policies that have stagnated Ecuador's economy brought over 300 Ecuadorians to the US to support families back in Ecuador and who perished in the World Trade Towers on 9/11.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
24 Apr 2005
This is pretty amazing. What is the character of the rebellion outside of the street fighting? Does the socialism that is popular in the universities have a libertarian character? (As opposed to Marxist-Leninist) It would give me hope to know that all of the rebelling latin american countries allowed workers to determine their own direction and some social structure arising where the peopel tell elected delegates what to do (as in anarcho-syndicalism and council-communism), instead of a "maximal leader" (like Castro) telling people what to do and throwing lots of people in prison.

In the spirit of the spanish anarchists and the Zapatistas, it is better to do everything you can to appeal to your enemy instead of simply being ruthless and relying on fear to get your way. Socialism can only truly work if it retains liberty.

I hope the people in Ecuador are taking over their work-places... that is where the real power resides... not with the government (mayor or president).
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
24 Apr 2005
I think the fact that the U.S. has been trying every dirty trick in the book (just look at Posada in Miami) to kill Castro, to terrorize Cubans, to sow discord there, to starve the people with an embargo, etc. might have something to do with the repressiveness of the Cuban government to the extent that it exists (it is no doubt exagerrated by American propaganda.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
24 Apr 2005
Moreover, having lived for years in various places in Latin America, I can tell you that the oligarchies that have typically ruled there are without a doubt more ruthless than Castro could ever be. All elections are rigged, public wealth exists to be looted by the oligarchs, the police forces are invariably corrupt and get away with murder (literally), and I could go on and on. What you are seeing in Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and many other places is the people once again rising up to confront their corrupt masters. This is happening just as we in the U.S. are sliding down the slippery slope to third world status by letting our government amass such a huge debt, and our own oligarchs to loot everything in sight. Before long, we will see austerity measures imposed in this our land of plenty--we'd be well advised to support our Latin American comrades in their struggle, as we will soon want their support in ours!
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
24 Apr 2005
After checking out Ecuador's indymedia site, it seems that there is a growing sense that, through a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington, the U.S. government is hoping to either return Gutierrez to power or at the very least influence a transfer of power to someone who will support FTAA, Plan Colombia, etc. When people's rebellions have happened in recent months in Lebanon, Ukraine, and Kyrgystan, they have been hailed by the U.S. as part of the spread of freedom and democracy. Now that the people of Ecuador have risen up, isn't it interesting that the mass media aren't giving theirs a cute name like the Orange, or Cedar revolutions?? The tone on Ecuador's indymedia site makes it clear that the problem is with their corrupt governemnt and the fact that it is seen as doing the bidding of Washington, selling out their national wealth to the empire in exchange for crumbs for themselves.
answer to jamal?
25 Apr 2005
Two things:

In answer to jamals question about politics, again, I am not too familiar with ecuador. I do know that Guitterez was originally supported by the growing indigenous-campesino movement there, and fell out of favor because he was still playing ball with the neoliberals.

The same is true for many of the new leaders in South America, causing some writers to want a redefinition of the word "left". The folks coming into power have all the rhetoric of rabid leftists without defining themselves with any pre-existing arm of political philosophy. Also without carrying through many of the social programs they espouse.

Chavez calls his revolution "bolivarian" after Simon Bolivar, an early south american general who was into equality, universal suffrage and the like. He says he is creating a unique way, a venezualan way.

Castro recently spoke and warned all these leaders not to be dogmatic, and not to follow his example. Out of all of the movements that I know about, Bolivia's Movement Towards Socialism party seems to be the only one that is authentically lefty (easy for me to say before they get in power). They are pushing for the nationlization of the gas and oil industry.

Second,
Looking for translators
25 Apr 2005
Indymedia Boston is interested in getting more indymedia articles from South and Central America translated for our newswire (and shown in english and spanish or brazilian portugeuse) especially those from countries that have populations here in town (pretty much all in Latin America). So to anybody who's out there trolling these indymedia sites, take a little extra time and help other Bostonians get the news from the street. Even if you don't have time to translate, and you think it is a good article, cut and paste it into a newswire post and we'll try to take it from there.
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
26 Apr 2005
You bet Pete S. I'm going to try to get in the habit of translating (spanish, portuguese, french) maybe a special translating section could be added to the homepage for people to see lists of things to translate, but also to check others' work?
Re: rebellion in Ecuador- yes, TRANSLATORS
26 Apr 2005
Please, and Thank You very much!
That would be great... alas, I cant help, but will ask friends that are multilingual...

oh! I would also suggest try asking at Boston Language institute and Centers for Adult Education (Camb., Boston, Brookline) adult ESL classes - someone primary Spanish-speaking in an advanced ESL could possibly help this kind of project...and be accurate in translating the flavor? just an idea that popped into mind =)
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
27 Apr 2005
Is there a discussion group of some kind somebody could join in order to give input into this issue of providing translations for this site?
Re: Popular rebellion in Ecuador- dispatch from the streets
27 Apr 2005
One clue; true common spaces occur in the legislation behind the Antarctic Treaty and the Outer Space Treaty of 1967...focus on Guatemala, Columbia, and Estonia and their relationship to information liabilities in a content driven world...as a hegemony is little more than process that undermines the legitimate functions behind true common spaces. Global Solidarity is not directing energy to policy functions and off-world real estate. Research the problem at the CIA web-page and review the concepts of border sovereignty and borderless warfare that will cripple capitalism is U.S. legislator’s do not understand how to protect U.S. intellectual property in a resource controlled environment. They cannot have both it a collapse will be a function of reflective policy of a post cold-war...wherein actuation of plans and implementation of bills and certain legislation is driven by previous complications and solutions are not reviewed under the replacement of the old guard. I only say this as problems currently involved in Columbia and Ecuador are reflective of good policy structures developed in the 1950’s…and 1960’s for a common space approach of J.F.K., the little examination of this problem can fist begin with reading or listening the farewell address of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. To examine the influence of the differences between the two documents nd the competitive transfer of Putin’s empire to information control systems in a fallen military complex…understand that the national image and ego of both the U.S. and Russia are relative to Ecuador’s plight… remove all control systems in Peru placed by former Russian Spy Master’s and close Columbian borders…