Protest rallies that began in Ecuador in early October do not cease. Their reason is the erroneous economic policy of the country’s leader, Lenin Moreno, the ex-Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told RT. In his opinion, the course towards the neoliberal reforms of the current authorities has failed.
Due to increased popular discontent, the president and government of Ecuador had to leave the capital. However, attempts by protesters to disorganize the work of the oil industry forced Moreno to engage in a dialogue with them. According to experts, the price of restoring stability in the country may be the adjustment of the economic course in the direction of rejecting the rigid reforms proposed by the IMF.
In Ecuador, protests rallied in early October due to a decision by President Lenin Moreno to release gas and diesel prices. Despite curfews imposed, clashes with the police continue. Protesters infiltrate fields and impede oil production.
Due to the inability to guarantee the safety of deputies, the National Assembly – the country’s parliament – suspended the work. The government and the president have moved from the troubled capital of Quito to the second largest city of Guayaquil.
During the clashes between the protesters and the police, a total of about 450 people were injured (including law enforcement officers). Among them are RT correspondent in Spanish, Nicholas Sanchez, and an operator who covered protests in the capital of Ecuador. The number of detainees during the demonstrations reached 570.
Lenin Moreno said the protests were organized by the leader of neighboring Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who led the country from 2007 to 2017. Moreno claims that politicians work together.
“Maduro, together with Correa, activated the plan for destabilization, they are the ones behind the attempted coup”, – said Lenin Moreno in an interview with the local newspaper El Comercio.
In an exclusive RT interview, the former Ecuador leader categorically denies the allegations.
“Lenin Moreno is trying to shift responsibility to others, as he did throughout his presidential term. He accused me of everything that happened during these two and a half years: in poor economic policy, in growing instability, in all the failures of the policy pursued by him. It is impossible for anyone to believe in this stupidity – that I am to blame for these mass protests and that there is some kind of conspiracy. It’s just absurd!” – said Rafael Correa.
Correa sees the cause of the crisis in the country in the neo-liberal economic course that Moreno and his team have been following since taking power as a result of the victory in the 2017 presidential election.
It is worth noting that with the change of power in Ecuador, the foreign policy has also changed. The allied relations of the country with Venezuela gave way to confrontation. Ecuador, on the contrary, has noticeably closer to the United States. A landmark event was the removal of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, authorized by Moreno in April this year, from the country’s embassy in the UK. In the Ecuadorian embassy, the journalist hid since 2012, fearing extradition to British justice.
Causes and nature of the crisis
In an interview with RT, Correa said that when he stepped down as president, the economy of Ecuador was on the rise and its growth continued for another whole year.
“We left the economy of Ecuador in a state of growth. This continued until 2017-2018. And this year we are in decline. Unemployment increased, this increased instability. 500 thousand Ecuadorians again faced poverty”, – complains Correa.
In his opinion, the increase in fuel prices was not due to any external factors.
“It’s just inept economic management”, – he says.
Correa believes that Moreno is not concerned about the problems of the country, but “only power and his own interests”.
The Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Alexander Chichin, in an interview with RT, suggested that raising fuel prices was “the last straw that overwhelmed the Ecuadorian patience”. The protests in Ecuador as a whole are spontaneous, although there is an organization that is trying to voice the demands of the protesters – this is the Confederation of Indian peoples, the expert said. According to him, the main cause of unrest is Moreno’s economic course, which can not be called successful.
“The state through subsidies maintained relatively low fuel prices for 50 years. Moreno canceled them. He pursues austerity policies in line with the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund. But it (at least for now) does not lead to a revival of the economy. Incomes of the population are declining, the standard of living is falling”, – Chichin explained.
According to the expert, the main demand of the Confederation of Indian Peoples, which is the driving force behind the protests, is the change in Moreno’s economic course, in particular the rejection of the reforms proposed by the IMF.
Vladimir Sudarev, chief researcher at the Institute of Latin American Countries of the Russian Academy of Sciences, also believes that the conflict in Ecuador is primarily of an economic nature. In his opinion, this is not a debate about the country’s political course and the choice of allies. In a conversation with RT, Sudarev called the increase in fuel prices a mistake that Moreno made.
“The government needed money. An unpopular decision to raise fuel prices was made in order to somehow normalize the situation in the food market. This primarily hit the low-income Native American population. It came out to protest”, – Sudarev said.
Power talks with protesters
The situation in Ecuador is complex and far from resolving who will win, Moreno or his opponents cannot be confidently predicted, Chichin believes. However, now the attacking side is the protesters, the expert notes.
Confirmation of the strength and seriousness of the intentions of the opponents of the incumbent president, Chichin considers the actions to seize the country’s oil fields.
“The tactics of the protesters is to block vital areas of the economy. They managed to organize a strike of public transport workers and taxi drivers. Now, to show the president the seriousness of their intentions, they took up deposits. Oil export is the main source of income for Ecuador. Who controls oil production controls the country’s economy”, – says Chichin.
The protests spread to oil production areas and it is extremely disadvantageous Moreno, Sudarev believes.
“Ecuadorian oil goes to the USA. Therefore, any interruption in the operation of oil wells is a very powerful blow, and above all to Moreno’s positions. He spent a lot of effort to build normal relations with Donald Trump and with the Republican administration. Moreno tried to present himself as a reliable economic partner of the United States. And his efforts went to dust”, – the expert explained.
Experts draw attention to the fact that Moreno agreed to negotiations with protesters through the UN office precisely after the news of attempts to seize oil fields. The Confederation of Native American Peoples agrees to the dialogue. Its spokesman, Yaku Perez, announced that protesters formed a commission for negotiations, writes El Comercio.
According to experts, if negotiations between protesters and the authorities take place, the compromise reached will concern the country’s economic course. However, its adjustment will have political consequences.
“Protests in Ecuador will convince many in South America that the pro-American course does not lead to economic growth and welfare. Objectively, the events in this Latin American country contribute to a left turn in the politics of the states of the continent”, – summed up Chichin.