Ecuadoran Protests Defy IMF & Pentagon

One year after popular forces toppled the government in Ecuador, protests against International Monetary Fund austerity measures continue. At the core of the protests is the inability of the Ecuadorian ruling class and its backers
in Washington to resolve the social contradictions that these austerity measures generate. The most recent round of protests began Jan. 3. Thousands of
students in Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil took to the streets against public-transportation rate hikes.

One year after popular forces toppled the government in Ecuador, protests against International Monetary Fund austerity measures continue. At the core of the protests is the inability of the Ecuadorian ruling class and its backers
in Washington to resolve the social contradictions that these austerity measures generate. The most recent round of protests began Jan. 3. Thousands of
students in Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil took to the streets against public-transportation rate hikes.

Quito, the capital city, ground to a halt. Clashes between Quito Central University students and riot police left 12 injured and at least 190 arrested, according to the Pulsar news agency. The students won a victory when the courts temporarily blocked first the fare hikes and then the fuel price hikes.

Ecuador is facing a severe economic crisis. While most Latin American countries are being hit with this crisis, Ecuador’s is among the most pronounced.
The inflation rate last year was 91 percent–meaning that prices of basic goods effectively doubled in one year. Poverty and unemployment are rampant, especially among the Indigenous peasant population.

The monthly minimum wage stands at $130. The monthly cost of living is $200.

On top of these depression-like conditions, the IMF is trying to draw the proverbial blood from the stone. These bankers are demanding increased privatization and austerity measures as a condition for further loans.

The economy has been “dollarized”–the national currency is officially the U.S. dollar–putting basic financial control of the economy in the hands of the U.S. Treasury.

CAN’T STOP RESISTANCE

The duty of Washington’s client regimes in the oppressed countries of the world is to impose these measures while avoiding resistance from the workers and peasants, who will bear the brunt of the intensified exploitation. In Ecuador, successive regimes have failed at that task.

The popular uprising last year sent tremors through the ruling class in Quito and Washington.
For a period of several hours on the night of Jan. 21, state power passed into the hands of the people.

CRISIS THROUGHOUT THE REGION

Both sides undoubtedly learned lessons from last January’s uprising. But for the Noboa regime, there remains the insoluble contradiction between imposing the IMF’s will and the demands of the mobilized workers, peasants and students. This contradiction is magnified by the fact that Ecuador’s own volatile social situation is matched by social crises throughout the region.

In Venezuela, the exploited classes have found a voice in the government of President Hugo Chavez–increasingly a target of U.S. wrath.

And in neighboring Colombia, a revolutionary movement has grown to challenge the very existence of the exploiting classes there.

Although it is in many ways the “weakest link” in the chain of U.S. clients in the region–sitting on a fragile social base, and the fifth regime in as many years–the Noboa government is being pushed by the Pentagon into an increasingly front-line role in the mobilization against the Colombian revolution.

In particular, Noboa has had to turn over control of the air base in Manta for the Pentagon’s use. In December Noboa also threatened to declare a state of emergency in the region bordering Colombia in an effort to oust local mayors–many of whom support the revolutionary movement in Colombia.

These actions can only serve to sharpen the anti-imperialist consciousness of workers and peasants who are already locked in combat with the Noboa regime over economic exploitation. Already the Manta base has been the site of several
demonstrations against U.S. intervention in the region.

Meanwhile, the leading popular forces are continuing to prepare for new challenges to the Noboa regime.
The Coordinating Committee for Social Movements (CMS), an umbrella organization, announced mass protests against the government’s pro-IMF policies to take place on Jan. 21–the anniversary of the 2000 uprising.

Author: Andy McInerney

News Service: Workers World News Service

URL: http://www.workers.org