Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dayuma to Montecristi and Back (Or, The Rules Apply to You, But Not to Me)

Things appear to have gotten out of control pretty quickly in Dayuma, reading the papers and watching telenoticias. At this point, the Army together with the police, has arrested 22 residents in the community including the Prefect of Orellana, Guadalupe LLori (Ecuador's version of an elected State governor; Llori is from Lucio Gutierrez's party, the PSP). Looking at photos in this morning's El Comercio, it appears that soldiers and cops were none too gentle in grabbing people. Articles quote detainees as having been punched, kicked, beaten and robbed, in some cases, and photos show one guy with serious face injuries and other people down in the dirt or stacked in military vehicles on their way to jail.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the Catholic Church and various human rights groups have denounced the government's actions and - here's where it gets interesting - appealed to the Constituent Assembly for the release of the detainees and investigation of the entire Dayuma situation.

The government's response has been that the detainees are all troublemakers (in some cases, sheltered by Colombians, not further identified). Correa and his Security Coordinator, Fernando Bustamante, have responded to human rights groups' accusations and calls for investigations by telling the CA that essentially none of the Dayuma affair is CA business. Further, Correa has threatened to resign if the CA decides to look into Dayuma. Correa even went so far as to send 300 of his Alianza Pais people to march on CA offices in Montecristi to demonstrate the "will of the people" (original phrasing) in demanding that the CA keep its hands off of the Correa government and its activities.

News viewers were treated to the spectacle, then, of Alianza Pais folks threatening Acuerdo Pais folks (CA leadership with 80 of its 130 seats under their control) with "direct action" if the CA didn't accede to Correa's demands/threats.

So, surprise, the CA did accede to Correa, expressing that, gosh, even though the CA has plenipotentiary powers (which they used to dissolve Congress and fire a number of Correa's political enemies), suddenly those powers don't exist and/or apply when it comes to defying Correa. As El Comercio columnist Marco Arauz put it this morning, while the CA doesn't recognize any limits to its powers and authorities when it comes to the Constitution and legislation, it will recognize its limits when it comes to following the Correa government's playbook.

Aside from the obvious inconsistencies, if not hypocrisy evident in the CA's actions (taken with the assistance of eight votes from MPD, Patchakutik and surprisingly, the RED), it's also become very clear in this object case, that the CA is controlled directly now by Correa. I had been careful to make a distinction between Correa and the CA's President, Alberto Acosta, if not a difference between them; that doesn't appear to be the case now. The dismissal of the Dayuma complaint in the CA makes it clear that Correa's running the show in Montecristi.

The implications of all of this are clear then: CA is progressively undermining its own credibility and political and moral standing in Ecuador. I have no doubt that Correa's popularity remains quite high and that expectations for positive results from the CA are just as high. But if these sorts of open political double dealings and hypocrisy continue, I expect that Ecuadorians will have lower and lower expectations of both Correa and the CA, and sadly, lower hopes for the political future of this country.......

7 comments:

Quiteña-en-gringoland said...

I just got back from Ecuador, and to say the least, I am worried about what is going on. I see that some people are not even paying attention to the huge events going on at the CA. Very nifty, since people were all
"distraidos" with Fiestas de Quito, Navidad y Fin de Año?????
I wonder what 2008 will bring for us.......
Thanks for all your very informative posts.

adam said...

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Tambopaxi said...

Quitena-en-gringoland: My pleasure, and thanks for visiting here! regards, T

aLeJo said...

Hi Tambopaxi, and thanks for sharing your views as a foreigner living here about all the hot topics in Ecuador. I guess some of our passion to comment (or should I say bash) everything regarding politics and their actors has rubbed onto you. Hope everything is going well with your new business, even in this rarefied environment for enterperneurs and private enterprise. I already visited the page several months ago, but it is the first time I leave a comment. Gonna add you to my blogroll, and I wish you a new year way better than the old one!

Tambopaxi said...

Alejo,

Thanks for your comments, and I don't intend to come across as bashing Ecuador. I've made a decision to live here because I really like this country and its people.

What causes me worry and regret is inability of the political elites here to implement some basically good ideas in an honest way. Correa y cia DO have some good ideas, but the Acuerdo Pais people were NOT, in my opinion, elected to fire the Congress and Correa's political enemies, levy new taxes and pass future laws that in many ways are revanchista and estadista.

As time goes by and the Asemblea Constituente takes additional actions that will anger additional people, resistance to the AC will grow and eventually, the AP people will begin to regret their precipitous actions. MY real regret is that in many ways the entire AC process will be an exercise in futility and a waste of time.

aLeJo said...

I agree with you completely about the illegal attributions the CA has taken the minute after they met in Montecristi.

It seems to me that a lot of people, perhaps the majority of Ecuadorians have not understood is that the real explaination to our eternal crisis and economic stagnation is not the lack of a "good Constitution", but our attitude towards the laws and norms, always trying to use and even encourage the "viveza criolla"; and thus rendering these norms and codes useless.

I did not have high hopes for the CA from the minute it was announced as one of Correa's main campaign offerings. In fact, I have to say that I despised the guy from the very beginning, since he seemed to me as the typical left-wing latin american whose only line is "this is all the empire's fault".

Guess I had to learn the hard way we were no longer living in a democratic society when I was taken to jail for "insulting the majesty of the president" a few months ago (you can read the chronicle in my blog), and that things may get a hell of a lot worse than today.

Anyway, I will stop whining for now, and wait. Keep up the good work and I hope you can post more often.

Best regards,
Alejo

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