Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Ecuador's elite creates 'smokescreen' for FTAA entry

In the last couple of weeks, Ecuador's fragile democracy has threatened once again to come apart at the seams. On October 20, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) ruled that President Alfredo Palacio's call to hold a referendum in December to elect a constituent assembly to amend the country's constitution was illegal.

However, responding to massive public opposition to the ruling, Palacio has insisted on going ahead with both the referendum and constituent assembly, sparking calls from the hostile legislature for his resignation.

According to Prensa Latina news agency, on October 22 Palacio refused to back down, telling a meeting with representatives of popular organisations that the "proposed assembly is irreversible, inevitable, necessary and perfectible".

The convening of a constituent assembly was one of the demands that Palacio, a retired cardiologist and former vice-president, promised to carry out in the wake of the mass protests that led the Congress in April to remove from office President Lucio Gutierrez and replace him with then vice-president Palacio.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Cuba celebrates strength and looks ahead

Havana, Cuba
On July 26, the Cuban people celebrated the 52nd anniversary of the failed attack on Moncada Barracks, an attack led by a 26-year-old lawyer named Fidel Castro.

The 1953 attack was designed to inspire Cubans to rise up against the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, and restore the 1940 constitution, which guaranteed land, education, democracy and hope to the Cuban people.

Neither the failure of the attack, nor the subsequent torture and imprisonment of those involved, broke the spirit of the mostly young rebels, who remained dedicated to liberating their people from the terror of Batista's regime. In January 1959, as a general strike broke out, Batista fled, and the Cuban Revolution triumphed, much to the chagrin of the US and its clients.

Washington has never stopped trying to roll back the Cuban Revolution, through assassination, invasion, terrorism, chemical and biological warfare, and by waging a constant propaganda war against the small Caribbean island.

On July 25 and 26, 2005, the 11 million inhabitants of Cuba again celebrated their freedom, with parties and small rallies across the country on the night of the 25th, and music blaring until well into the morning.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

L'altra guerra del petrolio di Washington

di Duroyan Fertl
Dopo quasi cinque anni, migliaia di persone uccise e scomparse e lo stanziamento di 7.5 miliardi di dollari, l'iniziativa Americana conosciuta come "Il Piano Colombia" - per porre fine alla crisi che caratterizza la Colombia, paese sudamericano dominato dalla violenza - è fallita, sia politicamente che militarmente.Iniziato nel 2000 il Piano Colombia fu apparentemente designato per portare la "guerra alla droga" direttamente ai produttori di stupefacenti.Gli Stati Uniti sostenevano che i guerriglieri marxisti dell'Esercito Rivoluzionario Colombiano (FARC) ed il meno importante Esercito di Liberazione Nazionale (ELN) come pure i paramilitari di destra, le cosidette Forze Colombiane di Auto-difesa (AUC), erano principalmente "narco-terroristi".Tuttavia, le motivazioni Americane sono ben diverse: anche se la maggior parte del paese non è stato ancora sfruttato dall' industria petrolifera, la Colombia é già il terzo maggior esportatore di pertolio in America Latina dopo il Venezuela e Messico. L'industria petrolifera incide per un terzo sulle esportazioni Colombiane e la maggior parte di esse sono verso gli Stati Unti.La Colombia siede sulla "cintura dell'Orinoco Venezuelano" la più grande capitalizzazione di idrocarburi del pianeta condivisa con il Venezuela e l'Ecuador e questi ultimi fanno parte, come in gran parte del continente Sudamericano, della rivolta di sinistra contro le poltiche neoliberiste di Washington.In Ecuador una rivolta popolare ha recentemente rovesciato un presidente visto come troppo vicino a Washington, ed in Venezuela la rivoluzione capeggiata da Hugo Chavez ha riaffermato il controllo popolare sulle riserve petrolifere del paese e usato i proventi a beneficio della maggioranza più povera.Washington ha risposto a tali comportamenti ant-capitalisti con l'appoggio ad un fallito colpo di stato, un tentativo di chudere l'industria del petrolio ed un' implacabile propaganda contro Chavez, tutto ciò con scarso successo.Tale situazione fa sì che assicurarsi il petrolio Colombiano sia una priorità per gli Stati Uniti; la spesa militare e l'addestramento Americani sono infatti concentrate nelle aree Colombiane ricche di petrolio come Arauca e Putumayo, nel cuore delle zone di guerriglia.Una parte chave delle "ristrutturazioni" del  Fondo Monetario Internazionale (IMF) legate al Piano Colombia sono state cambiate a beneficio dell'idustria del petrolio: l'industria pertolifera governativa ECOPETROL è stata essenzialmente privatizzata per "incoraggiare" investimenti stranieri nell' industria petrolifera; le royalties sono state tagliare dell 8%, contratti di leasing estesi a data indeterminata ed il governo Colombiano adesso acquista il proprio petrolio da industrie straniere quali la Occidental Petroleum basata in California a prezzi di mercato.La Colombia è inoltre importante per gli Stati Uniti come contrappeso alla crescita di governi di sinistra anti-imperialisti e movimenti attraverso tutto il Sudamerica che stanno minacciando gli interessi di Washington.

Ecuador's President Gutierrez walks a tightrope

On June 10, the 10th round of negotiations for a free trade agreement between the South American nations of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, and the United States, ended in a stalemate, with neither side willing to budge, in yet another example of Washington's increasing isolation on the continent.
Colombian farmers boycotted the negotiations, thousands of Ecuadorians protested in the streets of the country's largest city, Guayaquil, until police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse them, and on June 8, a bomb was set off outside the hotel in which the negotiations were taking place.

Ecuador's social movements, confident after forcing the overthrow of President Lucio Gutierrez on April 20, are demanding a referendum on the agreement. Protesters chanted: "We don't want to become a North American colony".

Gutierrez was unpopular for his implementation of neoliberal austerity measures, expansion of the US military presence in Ecuador and for attempting to subvert the role of the Supreme Court. 

His replacement, former vice-president Alfredo Palacio, came to power promising to hold a referendum on the trade agreement, increase social spending and to "re-found" the country by setting up a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution.

However, while he initially spoke out against deepening military ties with the US, Palacio has since affirmed that the US air base at Manta, used as part of Plan Colombia, will stay, and there are fears he will cave in to Washington over trade as well.

Colombia: Washington's other oil war

After almost five years, and countless thousands of people dead and disappeared, the US$7.5 billion initiative known as "Plan Colombia" has failed — politically and militarily — to bring an end to the crisis that characterises the violence-ridden South American country of Colombia.

Begun in 2000, Plan Colombia was ostensibly designed to take the "war on drugs" to the drug producers. The US argued these were primarily "narco-terrorists" — the Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the smaller Army of National Liberation (ELN), as well as the right-wing paramilitaries, the so-called United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC).

However, the US has other motives. While most of the country has not been explored for oil, Colombia is already the third-largest exporter in Latin America, after Venezuela and Mexico. The industry accounts for one third of Colombia's exports, and most of Colombia's oil exports are to the US.

Colombia sits on the Venezuela-Orinoco belt, the planet's largest accumulation of hydro-carbons, which it shares with Venezuela and Ecuador. However, the latter two countries, like most of South America, are part of a left-wing revolt against Washington's neoliberal policies.

In Ecuador, a popular uprising just overthrew one president seen as too close to Washington. In Venezuela, the Bolivarian revolution, led by Hugo Chavez, has reasserted popular control over the country's oil reserves, and used the revenue to the benefit of the poor majority. Washington has responded to such anti-capitalist behaviour with support for an unsuccessful coup, an attempted shutdown of the oil industry, and a relentless propaganda campaign against Chavez, all with little effect.

This situation makes securing Colombian oil a priority for the US. US military expenditure and training is in fact concentrated in the oil rich areas of Colombia, particularly Arauca and Putumayo, which are in the guerrilla heartland.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Ecuador: Folket driver præsidenten ud af landet

Af Duroyan Fertl  
Offentliggjort: 15. maj 2005

Gutiérrez blev overvældende sikkert valgt sidst i 2002 efter en kampagne, der blev støttet af venstrefløjen. Han fremstillede sig selv som en "ecuadoriansk Chávez" og lovede at gøre op med korruptionen i Ecuador, fjerne den kontroversielle amerikanske militære tilstedeværelse på Eloy Alfaro-flyvebasen og frigøre landet fra nyliberalismen. Gutiérrez havde støttet oprøret i 2000, der, med de oprindelige folk i spidsen, styrtede en korrupt præsident.

Lige som de fleste latinamerikanere er ecuadorianerne blevet hårdt ramt af nyliberale økonomiske politikker, presset frem af USA og de internationale finansielle institutioner.

Disse politikker omfatter privatisering af basale tjenesteydelser, hvilket har ført til stigende leveomkostninger og en øget gæld, der påtvinger lammende tilbagebetalinger. Politikerne har øget landets økonomiske og politiske underordning i forhold til USA, hvilket har styrket støtten til venstrenationalismen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ecuador: Mass protests drive president from power

After four months of mounting political pressure and constitutional crisis, the people of Ecuador have driven President Lucio Gutierrez from office. In the face of unstoppable mass protest, and growing calls for the dissolution of Congress and establishment of popular assemblies, Ecuador's right-wing Congress abandoned Gutierrez, leaving vice-president Alfredo Palacio to assume the role.

Gutierrez was overwhelmingly elected in late 2002, on a campaign supported by the left. Styling himself an "Ecuadorian Chavez", he promised to destroy corruption in Ecuador, remove the contentious United States military presence at the Eloy Alfaro Air Base, and free the country from neoliberalism. Gutierrez had supported the 2000 uprising, led by indigenous groups, that overthrew a corrupt president.

Like most Latin Americans, Ecuadorians have been hit hard by neoliberal economic policies pushed by the US and international financial institutions, including privatisation of basic services that has led to increases in the cost of living; and increased debt that imposes crippling repayments. These policies have increased the economic and political subordination of the country to the US, which has strengthened support for left-nationalism.

Upon his election, however, Gutierrez quickly revealed himself as another US puppet, increasing US military ties; embroiling Ecuador in Plan Colombia (the Washington-Bogota-led war on Colombian left-wing insurgents); increasing Ecuador's IMF debt; supporting the war on Iraq; privatising basic services; agreeing to negotiate a free trade agreement with the US; and approving oil exploration in indigenous and environmentally protected areas.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

ECUADOR: 'Lucio out! Democracy yes! Dictatorship No!'

On April 13, thousands of Ecuadorians protesting in the capital Quito were violently attacked by riot police with tear gas. The protesters, led by unionists and students, blocked roads with burning tyres and shut down the centre of the city, demanding the resignation of President Lucio Gutierrez and the reinstatement of the Supreme Court judges sacked by the president last December.
Quito Mayor Paco Moncayo, leader of the opposition Democratic Left Party (ID) and an organiser of the protest, ordered the closure of public transport, municipal offices and schools, as protesters shouted "Lucio out! Democracy, yes! Dictatorship, no!"

About 800 fully armed police and soldiers occupied the two blocks around the presidential palace, erecting metal barriers and barbed wire fencing across roadways.

This is just the latest in a wave of protests. On April 11, a group of about 100 protesters from various social movements occupied the nearby Metropolitan Cathedral. Despite being denied food and water, they are refusing to leave until the former Supreme Court is reinstated.

The prefect for Pichincha province, which covers Quito, ID member Ramiro Gonzalez, declared an indefinite strike from April 12, closing roads — including the Pan-American Highway — businesses and the local airport.

Roads were also blocked by demonstrations in the regions of Imbabura, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Loja, Azuay and Canar, and the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador (CONAIE) occupied the education ministry building in Quito.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Ecuador: 250,000 march against corruption

On January 26, up to 250,000 Ecuadorians marched in Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador. Their demands included an end to rampant corruption and crime, improved health and sanitation services, and the reinstatement of the Supreme Court, which was unceremoniously sacked on December 8 by a narrow majority of the Ecuadorian Congress.

The dismissal of the Supreme Court, a majority of whose presiding judges were affiliated to the opposition Social-Christian Party (PSC), was precipitated by Ecuadorian President Lucio Gutierrez accusing it of favouring a PSC-led impeachment attempt against him last November.

Gutierrez has been under mounting pressure over the last year, as his ruling alliance has been unravelling and he has been under pressure from allegations of his involvement with drug-money and misuse of public funds resurfacing. The action against the Supreme Court is widely viewed as an unconstitutional power grab.