Photo: Protesters stand off with riot police during general strike in Ecuador
By Jakob Stein
On October 8, massive protests of poor peasants and indigenous people forced Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno to flee Quito and move the government headquarters to Guayaquil. A new great national strike has been announced for today, and has already received the support of revolutionaries around the country.
Thousands of indigenous protesters have been marching into the capital city from the Andes Mountains since Moreno announced the elimination of fuel subsidies, raising the price of gasoline and virtually everything else, in addition to a host of other austerity measures as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Since Moreno’s announcement, workers participated in a national general strike beginning on October 3. Almost immediately the reactionary old state declared a “state of exception,” granting them extralegal abilities to deploy police and military and to make arrests. Over 370 protesters were arrested in the first two days of the strike alone. By resorting to naked violence and repression, the government has already shown its volatility in the face of popular rebellion.
By the third day, the opportunist leadership of the major transportation unions called for an end to the strike, citing the “national economy” and claiming that their goals had been completed. In a press conference in Quito, Abel Gomez, president of the National Federation of Public Transport Cooperatives announced, “We handed over our petition and with that have completed our measures.”
The masses did not allow themselves to be misled by charlatans and have continued to escalate actions against the old state. Ongoing strikes and road blockades have resulted in the loss of $70 million per day from the Ecuadorian economy, according to Moreno. The rebellion began as a spontaneous movement, and has since surpassed the opportunist leadership, incorporating poor peasants and indigenous people into the struggle, dealing heavy blows against the forces of reaction.
Over the course of only three days, several anti-riot vehicles were destroyed, military transport buses were damaged and destroyed, and approximately 40 police and military personnel were injured.
Additionally, 12 Intervention and Rescue Group (GIR) police, 97 military police officers, and three military units with their officers have been detained by the masses, in several cases surrendering their weapons. Protesters have also invaded and occupied the National Assembly, the seat of the Ecuadorian legislature in Quito, as well as other regional government buildings.
Gradually, the proletarian leadership has entered the anti-government struggle. The Defense Front of the Struggles of the People (FDLP-EC) and its organizations, the Committees of Poor Peasants and the Red Guards, have played an important role in this struggle, raising the slogan, “The rebellion is justified, here and now!” The Committees of Poor Peasants in particular have become fuses that have given rise to the popular explosion in some strategic places in the country. The Workers Front of Imbabura (FDDT-I) has also played a combative and strategic role in paralyzing economic activity in the province.
The FDLP-EC writes, “The fight is no longer a group of drums, flowers and dances, it is a decisive action, where revolutionary violence is printed and becomes an exercise of the new power. The poor peasantry joins the struggle, showing that today it is the main force of the process of transformation in the country.”
Moreno’s agreement with the IMF has the effect of deepening the semicolonial character of the country and once again exposes the role of the reactionary old state as lackeys of imperialism, at this time principally US imperialism. The combative rebellion of the masses, wielding revolutionary violence as its primary tool, and the subsequent repression from the old state reflects the acute crisis that bureaucratic capitalism is going through.
“The correct proletarian leadership of this day of struggle must aim to ensure that the objectives of the popular uprising do not end at the negotiating table with the revisionist and opportunist leadership claudicating before the old State.” The FDLP-EC writes, “The only valid negotiation will be the condition that the Moreno regime withdraws after also withdrawing the starvation measures it dictated.”