The fall of Guillermo Lasso

On May 17, the still President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, decreed the so-called “cross death”. He pressed the button that the Constitution of the Republic empowers him to unilaterally dissolve the National Assemblywhich brings as a consequence the reduction of the presidential term to less than six months, and parliamentary and presidential elections should be called immediately. This is the button that activates a time bomb that will also explode the president himself.

For those who still believe in the president – less than thirteen percent – the “cross death” represents a relief. With it, Lasso got rid of annoying political opposition. A National Assembly that tried to remove him through an impeachment originated in journalistic denunciations that would suggest the embezzlement of funds, in addition to certain links with organized crime from the Balkans. And because the Ecuadorian Constitution allows it, a president emerges who will rule for half a year with decree-laws without any political counterweight. A “strong president” thus encouraged by recalcitrant politicians and gloomy journalists who encouraged him to take the extreme initiative of “do or die”.

But is he really a “strong president” who decided to cut his government to less than six months? To understand this controversial decision-limit it is necessary to consider three reflections.

First of all, from Realpolitik Lasso had an awkward reading of politics. Despite having pursued the presidency for years and through several attempts, he did not understand the functioning or the dynamics of Ecuador’s political forces. In the end, he distanced himself even from the Guayaquil right wing incarnated by the Social Christian Party (PSC), an electoral machine that, although for now it has declined, maintained a significant share of assembly members.

Lasso was going to be expectorated by the National Assembly because of the political trial promoted by Union for Hope (UNES), the broad political movement of former President Rafael Correa Whose impeachment was joined by other parliamentary benches. To prevent the parliamentary majority from dismissing him, Lasso tried to “convince” a quota of assembly members through patent and pathetic lobbying, but where the number of “convinced” was mathematically insufficient. Lasso had once again underestimated the National Assembly and the political forces that comprise it.

Beyond these calculations there remains a citizenry that stopped believing in its president. In practice, the quality of maximum administrator of public affairs disappointed the expectations of millions of Ecuadorians. The actual growth of unemployment reflected in the exodus of thousands of Ecuadorians, the destructuring of education and health policies added to historic increase in insecurity and criminal violence, allow us to observe not only an absent state, but also a weak president. Because Lasso is above all a lousy president. He does not register a similar superlative in any of his predecessors.

Secondly, it is worth reviewing the implications of the “cross death” device. Basically two things: Lasso will have to leave in less than six months, but he will govern by decree. The presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in August of this year, a time in which progressive political forces will have the great opportunity -after winning- to correct what has been done wrong and to do what has not been done. .

During election time there will be everything. To start, they will try to put obstacles to the candidates of the left, especially the movement of Rafael Correa, UNES. In addition, Lasso himself could apply through intermediaries. Taking advantage of the state of insecurity, false outsiders will emerge, fueled by the rotten apples of politics. A kind of Ecuadorian Milei’s who will come with schizophrenic speeches of super strong hand and zero rule of law, of pure and hard repression against young people and members of the lower socioeconomic strata. Behind the demagogy for security there is nothing more than punishment for the poor.

Lasso will govern by decrees that will have prior constitutionality control if they are economic-urgent. However, andThe complacent role that the Constitutional Court It has had during the governments of Moreno and Lasso sowing more doubts, particularly to know if they will let go of key issues such as those contained in “provisions” that are also indirectly related to tax, economic, financial, labor and criminal matters. In times where militarization and the “war against terrorism” were already protected by presidential decree, the Court has not realized until now that such a measure is nothing more than an undeclared state of exception. For this reason, this time must be a period of permanent citizen vigilance, at least in the legal, economic and political spheres.

Thirdly, the debate on the figure of article 148 of the Ecuadorian Constitution is presented. From legal diatribes the “cross death” can be seen as a formula where the dictatorship is disguised as democracy. The improvement of “abusive constitutionalism” pointed out by the American professor David Landau, the same one who studied the constitutions of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador in Latin America, leaving out the current Fujimori Constitution, which under article 113 keeps Peruvian democracy in capsize. Landau’s work was not only in its infancy, but also under a marked ideological bias.

In the Ecuadorian case, the “cross death” of article 148 can be invoked under certain grounds. Lasso selected that of “serious political crisis and internal commotion.” Therefore, it is not a question of two independent circumstances, but of a causal one where both hypotheses must coexist. The “and” is not disjunctive but copulative. Despite a proper legal reading, the margin of discretion remains enormous and no less arbitrary. A pending task to reform the Constitution, because simply while the impeachment trial against the president is carried out, he should not activate the “cross death.”

In fact, Lasso appeared as normal before the National Assembly to defend himself against the charges attributed in the framework of the political trial. Although the “serious political crisis” can be assessed subjectively, the conduct of the impeachment was carried out under strict observance of the rules of legislative procedure. Nor was there “internal commotion” expressed at least in the streets through barricades or actions that would have caused national anxiety. Therefore, since both normative premises have not been reliably configured, the decree of “cross death” becomes improper.

Simply, with the decree of dissolution of the National Assembly, Lasso avoided the political trial and its result. A decision-limit that tries to punish its interpellants and the political opposition, but that hides the true disagreement between the government and the citizenry, which forcefully rejected the presidential referendum on the Constitution.

The incapable performance as president of Guillermo Lasso comes to an end by his own hand. Therefore, in Ecuador there is no “strong president” that the right and its propaganda apparatus can praise. In the environment, only a defeat with the stench of ego and banker whim is perceived. Because like that decadent dictator before the arrival of the Red Army at the dawn of May 1945, Lasso preferred to commit suicide rather than be captured and tried by his enemy. We witnessed without further ado the fall of Lasso…

Jorge Vicente Paladines is a Professor at the Central University of Ecuador.

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