Thousands of anti-austerity protesters recently hit the streets in Ecuador, forcing the country’s controversial president to flee the capital. And as their actions pushed the country’s right-wing government to backtrack, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders both sent their solidarity.
UK Labour Party leader Corbyn said during a recent rally:
Let’s give a shout out to those people in Ecuador that are standing up against what the IMF [International Monetary Fund] are doing to their economy and their people
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Great to see @jeremycorbyn offering his solidarity to the Ecuadorian people who've been standing up to brutally imposed IMF austerity in recent days.
We're part of a global movement against neoliberalism. pic.twitter.com/IQdK4Q4pnW
— Jeremy Corbyn for PM (@JeremyCorbyn4PM) October 14, 2019
US presidential hopeful Sanders, meanwhile, tweeted:
I applaud Ecuador’s Indigenous-led grassroots movements who stood up to repression and blocked the IMF's austerity agenda.
Economic elites keep pushing austerity worldwide, making life unbearable for working people. The U.S. should stop supporting this. https://t.co/9DIY4Q1Rpk
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 14, 2019
Others around the world also showed their support:
And more 🇪🇨🇬🇧🇪🇨🇬🇧🇪🇨 pic.twitter.com/Voy0X6wVp3
— Friends of Ecuador (@Friends_Ecuador) October 13, 2019
Victory for protesters, but repression continues
Protesters believed the measures Ecuador’s right-wing government was forcing through would cause the cost of living to rise significantly. And their resistance led the government to clamp down violently, suspending some civil rights and enforcing a round-the-clock curfew in the capital of Quito. This was the first such action imposed since a series of coups in the 1960s and 1970s.
Seven people reportedly died in the protests. There were also hundreds of arrests and injuries. But as teleSUR reported, the government dropped its “pro-IMF decree after agreement with Indigenous communities following UN-sponsored talks”:
Protests have forced Ecuador's government to back down from their IMF imposed austerity decree. pic.twitter.com/ZuU2gwA9Mo
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) October 14, 2019
— Camila (@camilateleSUR) October 14, 2019
The government and indigenous protesters negotiated an end to almost two weeks of demonstrations against proposals to remove fuel subsidies as part of an IMF austerity package. The protests had paralysed Ecuador’s economy and cut off more than half of the country’s production of oil, Ecuador’s most important export.
Although many called Ecuador a “left-wing success story” from 2007 to 2017, with its centre-left government significantly reducing poverty and inequality despite continued US interference, the subsequent government of Lenín Moreno has moved further and further to the right, adopting the failed policies of austerity (while facing corruption allegations).
The UN and Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference helped to broker talks between Moreno’s government and the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, which had brought thousands of indigenous protesters to the capital and organised protests across the country.
While the protests have now ended, however, there are claims that the government is still persecuting its political opponents:
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) October 15, 2019
She is the elected governor of Pichincha, and an ally of Rafael Correa. She joins a number of other leftists that have been pursued on trumped up charges. https://t.co/qk9g19L0NC
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) October 14, 2019
After selling out his country to the US empire, Ecuador's right-wing president Moreno is now retweeting far-right Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó, Washington's absurdly corrupt puppet
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) October 8, 2019
Here's a recent tweet from cartoonist with 50k followers who is published in Miami and Washington DC. There's just been a sudden flood of tweets linking #Ecuador protests with "the spread of Communism". This is a media war. #EcuadorEnCrisis #SOSecuador #PrensaCorrupta pic.twitter.com/jfITCjGqeJ
— 𝐣𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐚 (@jaraparilla) October 12, 2019
Neoliberalism has failed. But it is far from dead.
The most extreme form of capitalism – neoliberalism (i.e. austerity, privatising anything public, and giving companies total freedom to do what they want) – has been incredibly destructive. It’s brought misery to ordinary people around the world for decades. And even its main backer has admitted that it’s boosted inequality.
Today, however, neoliberal governments are still in power around the world. And in South America, Ecuador’s anti-democratic shift to neoliberalism is part of a wider right-wing assault throughout the continent. There are now neoliberal governments from Brazil to Argentina, and from Chile to Colombia.
There is hope, though, in the mass resistance of ordinary people – which is key in the fight against self-interested neoliberal elites. Recent events in Ecuador prove this. And in that battle, we know what side people like Corbyn and Sanders are on.
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