Friday, October 10, 2008

Ecuador: New progressive constitution adopted

On September 28, 65% of Ecuadorian voters approved the country's 20th and newest constitution — strengthening the mandate of left-wing President Rafael Correa. 

Correa was elected in 2006, promising a "citizen's revolution" to build a "socialism of the 21st century" in order to overcome the corruption rife in Ecuador, and to end the poverty that afflicts over half of the small Andean country's 14 million inhabitants.

The drafting of the new constitution, by an elected constituent assembly, involved significant public participation.

More than 3500 organisations presented proposals to the assembly, and thousands of public forums were held in schools, universities and communities across the country in the lead-up to the referendum.

Progressive content

Included in the 444 final articles are the right to free universal health care; free education up to university level; equal rights for same-sex relationships; a universal right to water and prohibition of its privatisation; and women's control over their reproductive rights.

The last article opens a legal avenue for abortion for the first time in the heavily Catholic nation.

The constitution also calls for the eradication of inequality and discrimination towards women, and proposes putting a value on unpaid domestic work.