Correa Shelves Redistribution Bills amid Rising Protests

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EspañolIn a televised address to the nation on June 15, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced plans to “temporarily withdraw” two tax bills he introduced in Congress “to avoid protests and promote a peaceful atmosphere ahead of Pope Francis’s arrival.”

The controversial legislation sought to impose new taxes on inheritances and capital gains in an effort to “redistribute wealth.” Opponents of the proposals responded with massive protests throughout the country.

During his speech, Correa urged Ecuadorians to debate the initiatives, but promised to “permanently shelve” the legislation if someone could prove they would cause “harm to the poor and middle class.”

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The president also seized the opportunity to remark on the nation’s inequality issues, condemning the “excessive” and “unjust” accumulation of wealth. He further decried “lavish mansions” in Guayaquil as “daily assaults on human dignity.”

The president says he felt saddened by messages from young people on social media “defending their hypothetical inheritances,” and claims that protests last week organized by the opposition were merely a strategy to destabilize his government.

Correa then took aim at business owners in the country, criticizing them as arrogant “because they now believe they are the saviors of the country they have always profited from.”

The president ended his remarks with a message to the opposition: “You want to remove the president? Demand a recall referendum according to Article 105 of the Constitution.”

Guillermo Lasso, leader of the opposition Creating Opportunities movement (CREO), and Congressman Andrés Páez responded to Correa by saying they welcome the chance to prove the proposed taxes would hurt the poor. Quito Mayor Mauricio Rodas added he plans to join the protests in the capital city if the tax bills are not permanently withdrawn.

Sources: El Universo, El Tiempo, Ecuavisa.

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