Monday, April 16, 2007

Ecuador: the citizens' revolution

I don't know how many people have noticed that Ecuador's new(ish) leftist President, Rafael Correa, has been holding a referendum on sweeping political change - and it looks like a massive majority has voted for it.

Chavez, Correa, MoralesExit polls claim 78% of voters have said that want to see the constitution rewritten to overhaul the country's political system as part of Correa's "citizens' revolution". The official result is unlikely to come out for a few days yet but it's fairly certain that Ecuador has voted for potentially sweeping measures. Correa is now threatening to throw out the World Bank and has already said that Ecuador will no longer have any dealings with the IMF now that they have finally paid off the last of their debt (Business Week) in the same week that Venezuela paid off the last penny of their IMF debt too.

Interestingly, Reuters predicts that the win will actually be welcomed by investors who are tired of an unstable political establishment consistently beset by turmoil. The series of moves made by correa in the months since his election in January weaken the political elites, remove the powers of the political parties to appoint judges and electoral authorities and push towards the localisation of democracy, and are widely seen as undermining the power of the rich who have, unsurprisingly, been consistent opponents of the government, the referendum on political reform and any moves towards a more equitable society.

Correa's speeches opposing the "international bureacracies", denouncing the right wing dominated congress as "a sewer" and vowing to purge corruption from the government have made him enormously popular among the poorest of Ecuador. The Guardian says that "during his campaign, Correa said he planned a heavy state role for Ecuador's free-market economy to divide wealth and benefit the country's poor majority" but also point out that (like Chavez) his first months in office have been marked by a cautious economic policy - with no large scale reforms - although he has significantly increased funding for social programs (doubling wlefare payments for instance).

Even Indymedia (a group which often finds itself opposing government measures) seems to heartily welcome the result which initiates the process that will see the formation of a Constituent Assembly and then a new constitution adopted in around a year.


Renegade Eye said...

Atleast the electoral victory, opens up ideas as workers control of their workplace, indigenous rights etc.

Derek Wall said...

good stuff, very inspiring, I wonder if there is a green element to this...