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On the Situation in #Ecuador One Month After the General Strike

More than a month after the October uprising in Ecuador, a communist/anarchist comrade from Quito describes the current situation in Ecuador. It is characterized by repression, labor market reforms, austerity measures and privatizations. At the same time, he criticizes those forces that have contributed significantly to put an end to mass mobilizations, above all the umbrella organization of indigenous nationalities (Conaie).

Originally published by Proletarios Revolucionarios. Translated by Enough 14.

As far as the government or the bourgeois state is concerned:

  1. There is currently a selective repression. Both at the legal and at the police and media level. It is directed mainly against union leaders, students and representatives of the indigenous movement, but also against people who participated in medical groups or in any other way in the general strike. Repression is considered as revenge and “exemplary punishment”.
  2. The Ecuadorian armed forces are preparing for counterinsurgency. The state has declared war on the social movement. Above all 19 alleged “groups ready for violence” and “anarchist cells” (which do not exist) are in the focus of the organs of repression. According to the government, they should be persecuted and destroyed. As in countless other countries, the state invents a new internal enemy to justify its brutal and hypocritical terrorism and intimidate the population. Because deep down the state is afraid of the proletarian masses. The uprising has shown what the masses are capable of and the government is afraid of another outbreak of social anger. In order to preserve the supremacy of the state, the Ecuadorian armed forces are demanding more money and equipment and that some laws are changed. In addition, Lenin Moreno praised the “excessive generosity” and “proportional use of force” of the police and military during the social unrest in the “Carondelet” presidential palace. The presidential palace, by the way, is still surrounded by barriers and barbed wire. In addition, some police officers are currently being “treated” because they were “traumatized” by the “kidnappings” during the uprising…. (1) As already mentioned: we are dealing with a brutal and hypocritical state terrorism.
  3. From an economic point of view, last week the labour market reforms in favour of the ruling class and the government were confirmed. Reforms that mean increasing precarization for the urban and rural working classes. The trade unions have supported these measures. These include staff reductions, cuts in salaries, holidays and pensions, flexibilisation of the 40-hour week, flexible contracts, etc.
  4. State funding for public universities is being cut, resulting in a worsening of study conditions for students and working conditions for teachers and administrative staff.
  5. The government has just proposed a “law on economic growth”, which will mainly abolish taxes and customs duties. This will directly and exclusively benefit the importing, exporting, agro-industrial and construction bourgeoisie. This will be compensated by the abolition and reduction of other unimportant taxes on certain consumer goods. This is supposed to benefit the “middle class”.
  6. In addition, the government has proposed measures to “revive agriculture”. In reality, they are a pretext to shift the abolition of fuel subsidies and credit management away from all sectors and towards certain sectors only. In addition, there is the ridiculous attempt to compensate for this with new schools located in rural areas, to compensate access to public universities for high school graduates and other things. Undoubtedly, this is a desperate, shameful and futile attempt to trick, divide, buy and appease the indigenous movement and the peasants.
  7. Meanwhile, the privatisation process of public companies is progressing slowly: “Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones” (the National Telecommunications Corporation, Enough 14), hydroelectric power stations, the “Banco del Pacífico” bank, the Esmeraldas oil refinery, electricity distribution companies, the national cement plant, etc. For the bourgeoisie, privatization is a big business with huge profits, but for the majority of the population, for the proletariat, it means an increase in the cost of living or, in other words, it leads to greater impoverishment.
  8. The official media (for example the television channel Teleamazonas, which belongs to one of the largest banks in the country, the “Banco Pichincha”) continue to spread false information and lies. In doing so, they obviously side with the bourgeois government of the murderer Lenin Moreno and against the protests. They still denigrate the past protests and the people “from below” and continue to complain about “the losses caused by the protests for the country”, i.e. the loss for the companies. Those who took part in the protests continue to be referred to as “lazybones, vandals, insurgents, terrorists”.
  9. In view of all these offensive measures by the government, it is possible that large-scale mobilizations will again spread.

From the point of view of the social movements or the proletariat in struggle:

  1. We fight for the 1192 arrested (including minors), the 1340 wounded and the 11 dead of the insurrection. We demand freedom, solidarity, justice and reparation for all comrades and that this murderous government of Moreno does not go unpunished, especially the ministers Jarrín and Romo.
  2. Without a doubt, the indigenous movement was the spearhead of the social uprising (it was not the only and not the first actor on the streets, but after a few days it was definitely the main actor). But in the last three weeks, the position of the indigenous movement, like that of the trade unions, has been very ambivalent. They fluctuated between dialogue with the government and the announcement of new fighting activities and mobilizations. For this reason, it is necessary to formulate an autonomous, independent and radical critique from the grassroots.
  3. On the critique on CONAIE (the umbrella organization of Ecuador’s indigenous nationalities, Enough 14): On the eleventh day of the strike, CONAIE entered into dialogue and negotiations with the government. It thereby formalized the withdrawal of Decree 883 (abolition of fuel subsidies), an achievement only made possible by the struggle on the streets. At the same time, CONAIE contributed to curbing mass mobilizations through negotiations with the government. Another problem is the ambiguous and opportunistic actions and statements of the President of CONAIE, Jaime Vargas: he first called for new actions to be launched, then for dialogue with the government and then again for new actions. Later he called the fucking cripple (2) Moreno a fucking cripple just to apologize afterwards. Vargas talked about forming an “indigenous army”, later he called for cooperation with the security forces. He now fantasizes at press conferences about elections and the presidential office, and already talks openly about the government, ministries, etc. Two weeks ago, CONAIE called on various social organisations to set up a “people’s parliament” to draw up a proposal for a “new economic model” and hand it over to the government. This in order to “avoid a new austerity package”. This people’s parliament consists mainly of the triad CONAIE-FUT (3)-Frente Popular (4) as well as other smaller organizations. The problem is that this people’ s parliament is a capitalist, bourgeois-democratic and representative political form that imitates the parliament, Congress or National Assembly of the State of the Rich and Powerful. In addition, the people’ s parliament proposes a typically reformist program that will be recycled for the umpteenth time. These include etatism (they want to establish the state as the main actor and driver of the economy), redistribution, state subsidies (both for the rural and the urban sector of the economy), a new development policy (there is talk of a “new and true development of our country”) and the creation of a plurinational state. The latter is central to the ideology of CONAIE. The radical criticism in this case is that it is not a question of changing the economic model (and even more so by participating in the elections in two years’ time), but of changing the entire structures that shape social relations in their entirety and getting to the root of the problem. Because the fundamental problem is not “neoliberalism” or the IMF, but capitalism, which today is in a situation of crisis and catastrophe. The excesses of capitalism threaten to destroy our species and to destroy our planet even more. Yes, that’s how serious the situation is. Moreover, in the last three decades all models and governments – from right to left – all over the world have done nothing but contribute to overcoming the crisis. They have all obviously failed. Not because of a specific mistake in economic policy or because of a specific ruler, but because capitalism and its crisis are ungovernable and are on the verge of collapse. The so-called “political and economic realism” of social democracy is in this sense a reactionary utopia, because it does not try to destroy and overcome the capitalist system, and because it demands of the capitalist system something that it cannot realize. The only real and radical solution or alternative to the crisis and capitalist catastrophe is world social revolution, communism and anarchy, i.e. the abolition and overcoming of private property, wage labour, value, market, social classes, states, nations, “races” and all other forms of oppression. This, of course, cannot happen within the framework of the bourgeois state and its elections, but only through the autonomous and antagonistic struggle of the exploited and oppressed of the city and the countryside. We should focus on our needs, interests and class claims and position ourselves against capitalism and its state until both are abolished, overcome and replaced once and for all by the human world community.
  4. Critique on the FUT: After the strike, the FUT announced new mobilisations against the last labour reform on October 30. But the government did not approve the rallies, which led the FUT to cancel the mobilizations and negotiate with employers’ federations and the government. As a result, as already mentioned, labour market reforms (or the “paquetazo laboral”) were ratified. Nothing new or surprising, since the unions are fulfilling their eternal role as negotiators in the service of the exploitation of the proletarian class and as collaborators of the ruling class. The trade unions are a tool of the state of capital within the working class, they are organs of counterrevolution and counterrevolt. It is undisputed that we workers (formal and informal; employees, unemployed and underemployed) must organize ourselves to fight for our material needs and immediate class interests. But this should be done outside and against the unions. There are other forms of organization and above all other contents of the proletarian struggle against capital.
  5. There are disagreements, tensions and conflicts between the grassroots and the leadership of Conaie. The same was observed in other organizations before, during and after the uprising. That is no small thing. On the contrary. Such conflicts can lead to radicalization of the social struggle.
  6. There are new organizations and associations such as the convened grassroots assemblies in Quito (e.g. the anti-capitalist general assembly of Quito, in which we are currently participating), Cuenca, Loja, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, which propose to form and strengthen territorial general assemblies everywhere (in the neighborhood, at public universities, in indigenous communities, at workplaces, etc.) where the needs of collective struggle and life in general are to be discussed and decisions implemented. All power to the assemblies! Nevertheless, it must be noted that the assemblies within the local social movement are still weak and not supported by many people. Yes, the assemblies are even in a marginal position at the moment. Not only among the masses, but also among the active proletarian minorities themselves. Nevertheless, the assemblies should not be minimized, for many of these associations did not exist before the uprising. At present they are drawing lessons from the October days and preparing for new struggles. The best school is the struggle itself and our class learns how to continue to fight more effectively for its self-liberation.
  7. The counter-hegemonic digital press and the counter-information media continue to do their best every day in the social networks. We recommend to follow them (a list of these media can be found on the last page of the fanzine “Somos Pueblo” No. 1).
  8. Conclusions: The uprising is over, but the social struggle continues and must be continued until the final consequences. For this we should agitate and strengthen our self-organisation, as well as the mobilizations. We should radicalize the proletariat of the city and the countryside, the indigenous and mestizo communities. We should organize ourselves outside and against state institutions, trade unions, parties and any representatives. We should reject negotiations and elections. The struggle for our needs is direct, independent and radical or it is not taking place. Its basis is solidarity and class struggle, as well as mutual help and direct action. To say that the struggle should continue until the final consequences means that the struggle is to occupy and change everything. We should stand up for the international social revolution and not for statist, populist and “pluralist” nationalist reforms. We continue to fight with our heads and hands to improve our living conditions and to go beyond the existing. Anti-capitalism, anti-etatism, internationalism and proletarian autonomy are not “abstract, extremist and childish principles,” as the reformists say. They are a concrete necessity to maintain and advance the struggle, achievements and emancipation of our class here and everywhere. The recent events in Ecuador, Chile and some other countries of the world have shown that the proletarian revolt is on the agenda and that the social revolution is possible. Of course there is still a long way to go, but we have to start somewhere. Let’s fight for the social revolution, let’s make it happen, or at least take the first steps in its direction. The social revolution should take root, this is just the beginning. Despite the return to normality, some anticapitalist minorities are still active and we think that there will be new mass mobilizations (no matter who calls for them). We will take the streets again and fight to contribute to the development of the autonomy and radicalization of our class. We will agitate, try to create a social tension, a break with the existing, a qualitative leap towards emancipation, as well as increase the level of organization and consciousness of our class. In short, it is about supporting the construction of a revolutionary social force. For this it is necessary to build a genuinely revolutionary “current” within the proletariat. Even though the revolutionaries are currently a minority, this is a necessity. In concrete terms, this applies to all current and future struggles of various exploited and oppressed sectors (economic, cultural, sexual, educational, struggles against repression, etc.). Because these struggles will not beg the rich and powerful in any way, because they are the ones who kill us with hunger, depression or a bullet. They will snatch everything from the rich and powerful, generalize the conflict, unite and radicalize until the social revolution breaks out. To achieve this, it is necessary to unite and amalgamate all the different forces. Only then one can fight and defeat the common enemy. The capitalist state should be abolished by the self-organized and self-governing assemblies, i.e. proletarian assemblies with an anti-state, anti-market and internationalist character. None of this is happening overnight, of course; it is a historical and international process that should do without transitional phases, without political representatives inside, without negotiations, and should not stop at the petty evil and be satisfied with a few alms. Otherwise the social struggle will be recuperated by our class opponents, opponents who claim to represent us, but in reality betray and undermine the struggle. For this reason, left reformism is as dangerous and devastating as state repression. It is necessary here and now to separate the wheat from the chaff and confront and overcome reformism in the ranks of urban and rural workers organizations, both in practice and in theory (and also in discourse) and in the struggle itself. Our motto should be: self-organization, mobilization and radicalization of the proletarian base to take over and change everything. We, the exploited and oppressed of this country do not take the streets and risk our heads and collars during the general strike, just to settle for the same crumbs again. We’ve had enough of this whole fucking system that we have to endure every day. We are nothing and we want everything. We are moving towards life and will not negotiate with those responsible for all the blood and the dead. The struggle goes on until the social revolution and not until economic and political reform.
  9. We want to end these notes with a nice message that was written on a bus in Quito on November the 3rd with a marker: “Dear Uprising: Happy anniversary to your first month! We will return when we feel like it.”

Quito, November 8, 2019

(1) During the uprising in early October, some police officers and military personnel were captured by parts of the indigenous population. Nobody was injured during this “captivity”. Some police officers had to perform a spiritual ritual of purification and were then forced to bury the coffin containing the body of the murdered women fighters. (Translation note)

(2) This discriminatory expression is used in the original text. (Translation note)

(3) Frente Unitario de Trabajadores. In English: united front of the workers. One of the largest trade unions in Ecuador. (Translation note)

(4) A Stalinist and opportunist party participating in the elections.

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