Ecuador. On December 4, Ecuador's Congress approved a
constitutional amendment that allows a president to be
re-elected an unlimited number of times. The opposition
boycotted the vote, but President Rafael Correa's government
coalition had enough votes to get through the proposal. The
decision was preceded and followed by protests and clashes
between police and protesters outside the congress building.
Already in March, nearly 10,000 people in 14 cities around
the country demonstrated against the government. At the
forefront was the trade union organization FUT and the
indigenous people's umbrella organization Conaie, but it was
a fragmented movement with widely differing requirements; a
stop for planned restrictions in the strike right and a
planned land reform and for higher wages.
On 13 August, the FUT also carried out a general strike.
The protesters claimed that the constitutional amendment was
created solely to allow incumbent President Rafael Correa to
be re-elected at the next presidential election in 2017,
while Correa replied that the protesters went to the
reactionary right's affairs. A similar change has been made
in Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega and was implemented in
Venezuela under Hugo Chávez, both of whom were Correa's
close allies. However, the constitutional change will not
apply until after the 2017 election, in which Correa has
also stated that he does not intend to stand.
COUNTRYAAH, the congressional decision was made during the period
when President Correa declared a state of emergency in 17 of
Ecuador's 24 provinces as a preventive measure against the
adverse effects expected by the El Niņo weather phenomenon.
The opposition put the state of emergency in conjunction
with the congressional vote and organized ongoing
demonstrations, including from the organized indigenous
people, especially Conaie, who in August organized an
eleven-day protest march to Quito. But natural disasters
were at the same time a reality and linked to the El Niņo
phenomenon. In September, for example, 250 forest fires
raged in eight of the country's 24 provinces. Among the
worst affected was the province of Pichincha, where the
capital Quito is located, which was swept into smoke with
mass evacuations and power outages as a result.
President Correa also did not escape charges of
corruption, even though they were directed at people in his
immediate vicinity rather than himself. His cousin Pedro
Delgado was the head of a state fund that manages money from
bankrupt banks, but was forced to resign in March after a
court ruled that he embezzled $ 800,000 of the fund's funds.