Sunday, December 02, 2007

First Things First


We're not off to a good start here with the Constituent Assembly.

The first thing the government bloc in the CA (Acuerdo Pais, with 80 out of 130 seats in the CA) did was to dissolve the sitting Congress and fire the Superintendent of Banks and Insurance (whom Correa did not like) and the Solicitor General of the Republic (with whom Correa got along, but who was sitting on a lot of cases and evidence that could have gotten Correa allies or even Correa himself into trouble somewhere along the line). The Congress and these individuals presented problems of one sort or another for Correa, so they're gone.

Other dignitaries or institutions such as the Attorney General of the Republic have been left alone, either because they're harmless or have been named to their posts by Correa. As well, Correa's bloc has left the Supreme Electoral Tribunal alone (these are the guys that fired 57 of Correa's enemies in the Congress), the Constitutional Tribunal alone (these guys were named essentially by Correa and his allies), and the Supreme Court alone (this is the one truly professional, apolitical tribunal extant; dismissing it would make Correa look obviously and truly bad and also require the dismissal of the CT, which Correa needs), and all of the elected provincial and municipal officials alone.

All of this shows clearly that AP and Correa's first priority is to get rid of real or potential political enemies where they can. At the same time, they're arrogating legislative and regulatory powers to themselves, essentially make the CA the most powerful political entity in country. to be clear, it's the 80 person AP bloc we're talking about, when it comes to firings, etc.; they've all voted for these actions while the 50 person opposition group (definitely not/not a monolithic bloc) voted against all of these actions.

In essence, the AP people have made the CA pretty much like the dictatorial Senate of old Roman times, without the permission of the Ecuadorian people. An opinion poll out today indicates that almost 60% of Ecuadorians polled are not in agreement with the AP's actions (I'll characterize these as AP actions unless oppo folks have voted for the same actions), but at this point, opinions don't matter much to the AP. The AP is very much feeling its political oats and they're going to run things as they see fit, with or without the agreement of other CA Asemblistas. (Note: I shouldn't be surprised if we see this on local t-shirts one of these days: "We're Acuerdo Pais. We don't care, we don't HAVE to care....")

Still, the AP's flaunting of the intent of the CA statute (no action of the CA is valid until it's approved by a referendum, post-CA) is already starting to bother people because these kinds of action are not, repeat not, what the CA states and it's not/not what people had in mind when they voted for change here. Political shenanigans of this sort are pretty much old school tactics which Ecuador has seen before, and people here are wise to these sorts of things.

It's still very, very early in the CA process for sure, but the AP people in particular better be careful; political revenge and power concentration are not what Ecuadorians want. People here want honest, decent, effective governmental institutions and they want jobs and the CA and AP better figure out how to bring those things to pass within a new Constitutional framework.

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