Ecuadorians Have Laid Their Own Freedom to Rest

Most in Ecuador simply watched from their homes as Correa destroyed their liberty.
Unlike the public’s reaction last June, most in Ecuador this time simply watched from their homes as Correa destroyed their liberty. (Infobae)

By Leonard Quinde

EspañolI initially set out to write about how Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa trampled on our rights when he proposed his 16 amendments to the Constitution. I was thinking about how best to address this issue, but the truth is, Ecuadorians deserve this.

As a renowned Ecuadorian politician once said: “Those who don’t defend their liberties, and don’t fight to be free, don’t deserve to be free.”

Throughout history, leaders have often become oppressors, and the masses only recovered their liberty when they joined forces to fight them. Last June, Ecuador saw massive demonstrations, because the public revolted against a bill that sought to increase taxes on inheritances and capital gains.

This time around, however, few seem to realize that these amendments will also have a financial impact on the country. By introducing greater risk and uncertainty into our legal system, investments in Ecuador will, at best, remain the same, but more likely will leave the country.

Correa has already announced a new batch of amendments for 2016, demonstrating once again that he has no respect for the Ecuadorian people, and does not fear his constituents. In fact, his government never has, but it at least had the decency to be less brazen about it in the past.

Nevertheless, limiting the state’s power is not yet a priority for most Ecuadorians.

Libertarians received the news of the amendments’ approval with a sunken heart. Many of us mourned, not because we lost a battle, but because the government has managed to reduce the number of issues that we can submit to a referendum.

And that’s just the beginning.

The amendments to Articles 114 and 144 of Ecuador’s Constitution now allow the president to reelect himself indefinitely.

The fourth amendment to Article 158 orders the Ecuadorian army to “defend the state,” not just the citizens. This means that the government can now count on the military to maintain its power.

The fifth amendment to Article 211 establishes a new role for the General Comptroller’s Office. The office will ensure that taxpayer money is used for public programs, but there is no mandate to ensure that resources are used efficiently in relation to the stated goal or the budget.

The eighth amendment to Articles 261 and 264 strips authority from the Decentralized Autonomous Governments (GAD) over issues concerning social security, health, housing, and education, unless they are given authorization from the federal government. The GADs are supposed to be local government entities that are more closely connected to the needs of a city. Minimizing their role is bad news, and Ecuadorians have already seen what happened in Guayaquil and other cities after President Correa assumed a monopoly on security.

The government expected that these reforms would cause riots throughout the country. The massive police deployment in Guayaquil and Quito proves this. They must have been surprised and disappointed when they realized few people cared about the reform at all.

They expected a fire, and we didn’t provide it. Ecuador, instead, decided to stay home and watch, and the vast majority could not care less about what was being discussed on a day when liberty and democracy in our country was destroyed.

Libertarians still have a lot of work to do to convince the public to rethink the importance of liberty in their lives and take action against these abuses. People must realize that individual and economic freedom are not unattached. Both are necessary for progress, and we can’t have one without the other.

Like sheep being led to the slaughter, most will only realize this when it’s too late. They cannot be free; they do not know how. Sadly, some are so afraid, they don’t want to be free.

Leonard Quinde Allieri is an industrial engineer and currently studying agricultural engineering. He is member of Estudiantes Por La Libertad Ecuador, Jóvenes CREO, and Movimiento Libertario del Ecuador. Follow @LeoQALib.

Translated by Adam Dubove.

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