Violence and mistrust undermine Ecuador weeks before the Noboa consultation

Caracas.- Next Sunday, April 21, Ecuadorians will return to the polls – just six months after early presidential elections – to take part in a plebiscite and referendum sponsored by President Daniel Noboa.

Citizens must answer “yes” or “no” to five questions from the referendum proposing constitutional reforms and six questions from the referendum.

The referendum questions ask Ecuadorians’ opinions on complementary support to the armed forces in the National Police’s tasks to combat organized crime; the possibility that the Ecuadorian State recognizes international arbitration as a method of resolving contractual or commercial investment disputes; as well as changes to the fixed-term employment contract and the hourly wage contract when concluded for the first time between the same employer and the same employee.

In the meantime, with a view to the referendum, voters must express whether they agree with the armed forces constantly controlling access to social rehabilitation centers, increasing penalties for various crimes and giving those deprived of their liberty their entire sentence serving time in prison on certain charges

They will also be asked whether or not they agree with the classification of the crime of possessing or carrying weapons intended for the Armed Forces or the National Police, whereby weapons or accessories that were instruments or material objects of a crime can be used directly Use of public authority and through which the State becomes the owner of assets of illegal or unjustified origin.

Violence

With only a few days left for this process, violence continues in the country, despite the emergency decree and the declaration of an internal armed conflict, which has allowed the armed forces to act against various organized crime organizations. defined by the executive branch as “terrorists.”

At least three massacres were recorded in the Andean country during Holy Week. On Friday, March 29, about 20 heavily armed people kidnapped 11 people (six adults and five children) in Puerto López, Manabí and five of them (all adults) were murdered; According to authorities, the operation was a “mistake” by the criminal organizations, which mistook the victims for members of a rival gang.

On the night of the same day, another attack killed four people, including an active-duty military officer, in Manta, also Manabí. On Saturday, another attack in southern Guayaquil left eight dead and ten injured.

These events continued and on Monday evening, also in Manta, three people were killed and one injured after another armed attack.

Previously, on the night of Wednesday, March 27, there was a riot in Guayas No. 4 Male Social Rehabilitation Center, where three inmates died and six were injured.

Three days earlier, the assassination of Brigitte García, mayor of San Vicente, in Manabí – the youngest mayor in Ecuador, 27 years old – was registered; as well as that of its communications director Jairo Meza.

Regarding the recent violence, the Minister of Government and Interior, Mónica Palencia, said in statements to the press during a visit to Manta on Tuesday: “I could not say that there is a single cause. At first we were told that there were fights between gangs for control of space. There is also a reaction to the national government because, strangely enough, they are not killing one after another. There is a need, and I would like to say this with caution, to boycott the referendum where the Ecuadorian people have clear support for law enforcement.”

Noboa also took the opportunity to speak about the referendum last Monday in Turi prison in Azuay province, saying that criminal groups were against the process.

“We still have three weeks for a consultation in which terrorist groups have already publicly stated that they are completely against it. They are against extradition, they are against a military presence in prisons,” he said, quoted by First Fruits.

The next day, Presidential Communications Minister Roberto Izurieta pointed out that organized crime did not want the referendum.

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“The vast majority of questions in the referendum concern organized crime. The general purpose of this process is to create permanent mechanisms not to continue in this cycle of emergency decrees and to return to the same thing,” he said in an interview with Teleamazonas.

Bell jar

The election campaign for the plebiscite and referendum, set by the National Electoral Council (CNE), will take place from April 7th to 18th. However, the president has used some public events to ask them to vote for it.

He did this, for example, on March 11 during a National Police event where he said: “It is time to protect what we have won. We urgently need reforms that allow us to protect our security and stricter punishments for crimes such as terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as promoting employment and creating opportunities to offer our young people a better future. This process can only continue and be sustained if we give the police and armed forces the clear and firm support to do so, as we popularly suggest in the consultation.

In mid-March, social, political and trade union organizations in Ecuador announced the formation of the “National Front for No to the Referendum”. Its members include, among others, the Indigenous Plurinational Unity Movement Pachakutik, the Communist Party of Ecuador (PCE), the Guevarista Movement, Unidad Popular, the General Union of Workers of Ecuador (UGTE) and the National Union of Educators (UNE). , the November 15 Popular Committee, the Yasunidos Collective and the Peace, Sovereignty, Integration and Non-Intervention Coordinator.

“It is an unnecessary, unhelpful consultation that will not solve the problems and needs of the Ecuadorian people such as health, education and employment,” José Villavicencio, president of the UGTE, said at the time.

At the beginning of March, the National Electoral Council (CNE) approved the qualification of ten political and social organizations to campaign for yes and no in the plebiscite and referendum.

Pachakutik was the only one who was able to represent a “no” on all issues; while other movements agreed to represent the “no” on some of the issues, since the majority of them reject the issues related to granting the State the possibility of recognizing international arbitration to resolve investment, contractual or commercial disputes ; and the one that has to do with the introduction of hourly work.

“We will push for a ‘no’ on the issues of arbitration and hourly work (…) We are for security, sovereignty and decent employment,” said Andrés Quishpe, President of the National UNE, as the Front for No.

Meanwhile, Villavicencio mentioned that “deep down, the government is trying to break the constitutional barrier of Article 327 of the Constitution,” which “prohibits hourly work, precarious employment, labor placement and outsourcing.”

The left-wing Citizens Revolutionary Movement (RC), led by former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017), issued a statement on Wednesday in which they also pointed out that the referendum was “unnecessary”.

According to the group, the issues raised in this electoral process could be addressed “immediately” and “free of charge” in the National Assembly; He pointed out that “spending $62 million in the current situation of the country is immoral.”

“Even our bank presented these legal reforms with security in mind and the plenary session did not address them (…) What Daniel Noboa is proposing is a waste of money to launch and pay for his early campaign (for the 2025 presidential elections). “The citizens” demanded the movement.

With information from Actualidad RT.

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