Monday, May 07, 2007

May 6, 2007

....I'm simply inserting a date for the title of this posting since I can't think of anything snappy to post to the marquee. I suppose I could quote Lewis Carroll, "Curioser and curioser", but, hell, I'll save that one for a later posting, because just when you think things can't get stranger or wackier here, they do.

Let's see...

Since my last posting, 50 of the famous 57 fired Diputados (seven of the fired guys decided the hell with it, and gave up without a fight) won a complaint they'd placed with the Tribunal Constitucional asserting that they'd been denied due process in being removed from Congress. The TC agreed, by a vote of 6-3, that that in fact, was case, and ordered that the fired folks be allowed to take their seats once again in Congress.

Then, in true Ecuadorian tradition, both the President and the people now sitting in Congress refused to comply with the TC ruling, alleging, on legal grounds, that the current TC's term had expired in February 2007 (TC courts have four year terms, and in fact, the term had expired). As well, in refusing to obey the TC order, enemies of the fired 50 claimed that the TC was packed with political allies of the traditional parties (PSP, PRIAN, and PSC), so the whole thing was political, anyway - also true, as far as I can determine.

The TC ruling and general refusal to comply with it appear to have signaled the end of organized resistance by the traditionals to Correa and his allies, in both the Congressional and judicial arenas. The TC itself has adjourned and (the new) Congress has asked for candidates to fill the TC slots, in accordance with the Constitution (at least SOMETHING is happening in accordance with the Constitution!).

These same events also appear to be the end of traditional political party control over the TC, which is what most political analysts and the public in general, not to mention Correa, had been looking for.

It's worth mentioning that the Ecuadorian Supreme Court (which, like the TC, was always filled with political allies of the big parties) went through a similar, longer crisis from November 2004 to April 2005, when then President Lucio Gutierrez and his PSP buddies cut a deal with the Partido Rodolsista Ecuatoriano (PRE) to fire the entire Supreme Court in November and pick a whole new court filled with PSP and PRE cronies. Gutierrez made this deal with a truly bad guy, Abdallah Bucaram, exiled ex-President, and head of the PRE, so that he (Gutierrez) could protect himself from future prosecution at the SC over various wrong-doings he'd committed. In return, he agreed to allow Bucaram to return to Ecuador. When Bucaram did come back in April, the resultant revolt (revulsion, actually), brought down the Gutierrez government and the Supreme Court with it. The consequent vacuum in the SC allowed non-political jurists to take over the nomination process for new SC magistrates, and they did a good job, in my opinion, of putting together a new SC which is professional and pretty much apolitical, at least in the Ecuadorian context. As an interesting afterward to that process, three of the new SC magistrates got caught up in a bribery scandal involving the son of one of the three, and based on the mere perception of inappropriate behavior, the three were fired. The general public approved of this (me too) and it may herald a new era of honest professionalism in the SC (I hope, I hope).

I recount the SC story in the hopes that something similar happens in the TC; we'll see, as I like to say.

On the Constituent Assembly front, the nomination season has started for the Asemblistas. Correa and his allies, through the Alianza Pais and assorted other groups, are seeking to launch a concerted effort to get (in Correa's words) "at least 80%" of the seats in the CA, so as to avoid any return to life of the hated "partidocracia". To be clear, I don't want either, either a Correa majority, or, even less, a return of the partidocracia.

The TSE is being flooded with applications/candidates for Asemblistas, which I like, as I see it as a sign of participatory democracy; lots of people want to get in on the action, and that's cool.

Once again, it gets down to this: We (and I use that term advisedly; I'm not an Ecuadorian citizen, but I care very deeply about this neat little country), want change, change away from the corrupt cronyism of the partidocracia, but we don't want authoritanianism, Chavismo, ni dictaduria. We just want to do better by our kids and our families and do it freely, and without others telling us what to think or do. It's funny, I'm an American in Ecuador, but I see that in their own inarticulate way, Ecuadorians are trying to express the same values we cherish up north regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I know this is cursi/corny, but hell, I've just had a bottle of very good Pinot Noir with some friends and that's how I feel... Si, se puede, y adelante, Ecuador!

1 comment:

j_major said...

altough l think the last TC was supposed to serve until 2010 (as they were elected in 2006), there are some points to think they had some interest in the congressmen issue:
- 2 of the 9 judges met some congressmen in a judge´s house. they didn´t deny talking about the yet-to-come ruling.
- the 6-3 decission was taken by the whole Tribunal, but according to the record, the file didn´t go from a "branch" of TC to the whole Tribunal. so, it seems they decided before actually being capable of
- the day the decission was taken, they were supposed to rule over other stuff, so they didn´t aware the parties (congressmen and TSE, on each side) so the parties in the case didn´t have their chance to defend their points of view (ironically, the TSE claims for its right of defense but didn´t grant that right to the congressmen when firing them).

so cool you concern about our country´s future, hope we can share a beer some time!