Ecuadorians lambast government’s ‘erratic and negligent’ response to coronavirus crisis

Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno in front of Ecuadorian and US flags
John McEvoy

Some have called Ecuador the “epicenter of [the] coronavirus pandemic in Latin America”. Over past weeks, it seems the country of 17 million people has failed to deal with the rising amount of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. The disease is spreading, deaths are rising, and the country has struggled to bury all of the victims. One province, for example, reported almost 6,000 more deaths in early April than in a ‘normal year’.

Now, a group of Ecuadorian social organisations, research centres, intellectuals, and concerned citizens have formed an ‘Alliance of Unity for Life’ to pressure Lenín Moreno‘s government to act.

Alliance of Unity for Life

A letter, now signed by numerous Ecuadorian social organisations, states with urgency:

We are concerned about the hunger already being suffered by communities in the countryside and in the city. We are outraged by the abandonment of those infected and killed by COVID-19 and by the insecurity of health workers, police, military and others who are [on] the front line, fighting against this pandemic.

The letter also notes how Moreno, who replaced Rafael Correa as president in 2017 and dramatically turned politically to the right, has failed the people of Ecuador:

We have a government that is incapable of prioritising the life and health of our people. Since 2018, investment in health and education has been reduced by agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and neoliberal policies were implemented that dismantled the State, aggravating the socio-economic situation…

The government serves the interests of the economic elites, while sacking thousands of doctors, nurses, and other public employees. Persecution of its opponents is the mark of this government.

In 2019, economists Mark Weisbrot and Andrés Arauz of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that Ecuador, as a result of accepting an IMF loan:

is likely to have lower GDP per capita, higher unemployment, and increased macroeconomic instability under the program. Even the program itself… projects Ecuador to have a recession this year and increased unemployment for each of the first three years of the program. But these projections are optimistic, the report concludes.

The CEPR is also tracking coronavirus cases in Latin America.

Declarations

The signatories are demanding the Ecuadorian government fulfil six pledges. They are, in paraphrased form:

  1. Declare a humanitarian crisis in Ecuador.
  2. Suspend foreign debt and increase taxes on the country’s richest citizens.
  3. End any and all plans to exploit the crisis to increase privatisation or lay off workers.
  4. Guarantee the rights to life, health, food security and sovereignty, freedom of expression, and peaceful resistance upheld within the Ecuadorian constitution.
  5. Develop an alternative plan to deal with the crisis – a plan that is in the interests of the whole population.
  6. The resignation of the Moreno government, and its replacement with one that provides a real solution to the crisis.

Acts of resistance are also called for 1 May.

Featured image via Ron Przysucha

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