Indigenous Rising in Ecuador and International Solidarity

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1912 ... October 18, 2019
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Indigenous Rising in Ecuador and International Solidarity

Kasim Tirmizey

While many Canadians were celebrating Thanksgiving weekend, events in Ecuador generally did not catch media attention. After 11 days of an indigenous-led national general strike and state repression, an agreement was achieved by both parties on the night of October 13th that reversed one aspect of the paquetazo (package) of austerity measures. Those events seem very disconnected with the rhythms of life in Canada, but in many ways there are significant connections. Further, while the general strike has been called off, there is an important need to build or revitalize movements of international solidarity at the contemporary conjuncture.

From October 3rd to 13th tens of thousands of people under the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) organized a national general strike. This action centered on paralyzing the country’s capital, Quito, but protests, blockades, and occupation of public spaces and government buildings occurred across multiple sites in the country. Such an intensive and extensive movement was possible because of the widespread mobilization among the country’s... various indigenous nations.

The general strike was called in response to austerity measures taken by the Ecuadorian government as part of conditionalities of signing a $4.2-billion loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Government reforms included the removal of subsidies on gasoline prices (Decree 883), that temporary contracts be renewed with a 20% reduction in wages, and public employees be no longer given 30 days of vacation but 15 days. An anti-austerity movement coalesced through the leadership of the CONAIE and brought together student, feminist, environmental justice, and labour movements. In addition, there have been solidarity actions across the world, including La Paz, Buenos Aires, Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, México, Paris, Montreal and New York. Actions in several places included protests outside of the offices of Ecuadorian embassies and consulates.

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