EspañolThursday, June 25, 2015 will go down in Ecuador’s history, with one of the largest public protests ever recorded in the city of Guayaquil.
Starting at 2 p.m. local time, the mayor’s office estimates that around 400,000 people — one in five city residents — filled Nueve de Octubre Avenue and its surroundings, to reject the latest measures taken by the government of President Rafael Correa. That makes three consecutive weeks of widespread demonstrations from Ecuadorians against the socialist government.
The protest, convened on June 12 by the mayor of the port city, Jaime Nebot Saadi, brought together citizens of all ages and social classes under the slogan “#GuayaquilProtesta” (Guayaquil protests). Likewise, several groups from other counties along the Ecuadorian coast, such as Vinces, El Empalme, and Samborondón, came to the city to join the crowd, mostly dressed in light blue and white, the colors of Guayaquil’s flag.
At around 5:00 p.m., after struggling to walk through the crowds of supporters, Nebot took the stage on the Malecon 2000 boardwalk, where he spoke to the audience for 45 minutes. “One must live these things to tell the tale. This peaceful but rebellious and strong crowd is Guayaquil, which now represents the Ecuadorian nation,” he opened.
Nebot had previously stated that this was not a protest against Correa, but against the “totalitarian system” that the president “seeks to impose.” However, the crowd repeatedly chanted “fuera Correa, fuera” (get out Correa, get out), as has been heard in all the demonstrations recently held in the country.
Meanwhile, authorities from the Ecuadorian government asserted that they would not call their supporters onto the streets on Thursday, because they “would never put their members at risk.” However, the public institutions located along Nueve de Octubre Avenue appeared to have been specially decorated for the occasion.
A poster with the image of Pope Francis — who shall soon visit the South American nation — hung from Ecuador’s Central Bank office building, with one of his quotes against the accumulation of wealth. Moreover, there were loudspeakers that proclaimed messages in favor of the government from the top of the building, with conspicuously higher volume during Nebot’s speech.
Furthermore, the Bank of the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (BIESS) had a government banner on its facade, which accused Nebot of not providing basic services to the poorest areas of the city. Given this, the mayor said that “despite all the efforts that Correísmo [had] made to prevent people coming out to protest, none of them [had] worked.”
“This man [Correa] is not democratic. Democrats do not do that sort of thing … they are employees of the people, not owners of the people, as this man believes,” the mayor added.
“He thinks he can treat the people like fools. … His credibility is plummeting, faster and more lethally than the Germanwings plane. However, he will not kill the Ecuadorians with him, he will crash alone,” Nebot continued, amid cheers and applause from protesters.
Minutes later, the Guayaquil mayor transformed the street into a sort of popular assembly, asking the audience a series of questions about the measures that the government seeks to implement, regarding inheritance and capital gains.
“They say the profits on legitimately acquired property are illegitimate, that these belong to the state. They say that inheritance is illegitimate, unless they are the heirs; in that case everything is legitimate … we are never going to accept that country, because that is not Ecuador; that is Venezuela, where this man [Correa] says the government has reduced poverty.”
“Do you want Ecuador to be like Venezuela? Do you want the country that Correa proposes? Do you want the Inheritance Law? Do you want the tax on capital gains?” he asked to the crowd. The audience replied with a deafening “No” to each of these questions.
Later on, Nebot branded the government’s economic policy as a “sad reality” that is created in the “laboratory of failed projects called for by Senplades (National Secretariat of Planning and Development),” whose leaders “want to win the Nobel prize in Chemistry, by transforming a country with a future into manure.” He further warned the audience that Correísmo seeks to compromise dollarization, and that we must put an end to this model of government, “but at the polls, democratically.”
Finally, Mayor Nebot stated that Correa’s government has sought to create division among Ecuadorians, but that the people are putting a halt to it, because we want a “free, fair, supportive, and united” Ecuador. “We are here to tell this man to go to hell with his divisive proposal; Correa’s country is over.”
People in other cities also joined the demonstration against the government on Thursday. In Quito, citizens gathered along Shyris Avenue in the afternoon, where Mayor Mauricio Rodas spoke out against the new taxes the president has been promoting.
EspañolThe Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have launched 38 attacks against civilians since it announced the end of its ceasefire with the government 36 days ago, according to an Ombudsman's Office report released on Tuesday, June 23. The press release recounts the Marxist rebel group's latest attacks on the population and notes that most of them have targeted non-combatant civilians, breaching international humanitarian law. It fails to mention a recent raid at a power plant in the Cauca department, or last week's bombing of an oil pipeline in northeast Colombia, because authorities could not determine whether the FARC or the National Liberation Army (ELN), a smaller guerrilla, carried out the violent acts. Colombian authorities also ignored the recent explosion of anti-personnel mines, since, they say, there is no way to determine who set up those devices. However, the report does include other attacks by the FARC's Daniel Aldana unit, one of the most active guerrilla groups since the ceasefire ended. The police say this unit is responsible for the two bombings of the Trasandino oil pipeline in southern Colombia. The unit has claimed responsibility for the interception of 23 trucks transporting oil, which resulted in the spilling of over 200,000 gallons in the southern Colombian department of Putumayo, causing grave environmental damage. Ceasefire Fallout The FARC announced the end of their unilateral ceasefire after the Colombian army bombed the guerrilla's 29th unit in the Cauca department. The air raid killed 27 FARC rebels, including including Jairo Martínez, one of the armed group's negotiators in Havana, Cuba, where the Colombian government and FARC leaders are discussing the terms of a peace agreement. On May 27, the guerrilla issued a press release stating it would continue to participate in the peace talks underway in Havana despite suspending the ceasefire. They also demanded an investigation into the attack, claiming that the corpses of the rebel fighters showed signs of execution. When the FARC announced the suspension of the truce, the Colombian ombudsman warned that the regions of Antioquía, Cauca, Chocó, Arauca, Putumayo, Huila, Nariño, Meta, Caquetá, and Valle del Cauca were at risk due to the rebel's heavy presence in the area, and predicted such attacks. The ombudsman's latest press release also notes that if the raid against the Caño Limón oil pipeline and the anti-personnel mine explosions were included in the tally, the number of FARC attacks on civilians would rise to 50 in just over a month. Over the last several weeks, the FARC has also carried out several assaults against Colombian security forces, particularly against the police and the army, leaving 15 officers dead. One of the most high-profile cases involved the killing of Lt. Col. Alfredo Ruíz, in the town of Ipiales, Nariño. On June 12, the guerrilla ambushed him and a colleague with explosive devices while patrolling the area. Colombia's Defense Ministry blamed the FARC's 48th Front for the murder. The end of the guerrilla's unilateral ceasefire comes just five months after the rebel group first announced it on December 20, 2014. Translated by Adam Dubove.