What they can’t forgive to Evo Morales

The Bolivian people have decided their destiny in vital elections, not just for the progress and political, economic and social stability of that nation, but also for the region, and in which the current president Evo Morales - according to all the official polls – holds all the winning tickets, despite the media offensive and violent actions that have tried to subvert the domestic order in the country and turn the electoral process against him.

It’s obvious that at this point nothing else could be expected. The courage, optimism, Morales’s faith in his cabinet and in his town, but above all, his work dynamic, his truthfulness, have put him at the head of his people and before the world as an example of dignity that the regional right-wing willing to please the United States and the U.S. government itself, with their Moroe-like outbursts, cannot forgive him.

In recent days, Evo Morales presided over a great march in El Alto city - the same that 16 years ago fought for the nationalization of gas against the government of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and his vice president Carlos Mesa - and another rally in La Paz - as the closing of the campaign - and he looked confident and smiling, surrounded by thousands of people who followed him. He ratified the importance of being with those in need, listen to them, and learn from them.

His election campaign has suffered all kinds of attacks and setbacks but he has been unstoppable, solving key problems, dealing with new works and social projects and leaving aside the talk and empty actions of his opponents, some very well known to the people and not precisely because of his good deeds. Thanks to their direct and close work with municipal and local governments, international aid and hundreds of volunteers, a few hours ago it was confirmed that they were finally able to quench the fire outbreaks that remained in the Chiquitania region, although about that, the so-called large media have said nothing.

"There are no more heat spots or active fire in Chiquitania," said Cinthia Asin, secretary for the Sustainable Development and Environment of the Government of Santa Cruz, the same region where offices and establishments were violently assaulted a few weeks ago related to the Movement To Socialism (MAS) resulting in injuries to dozens of people, in the voice of the opposition candidate Carlos Mesa himself – what a coincidence? - should not choose violence as a form of action but they were “very brave” to express their dissatisfaction with Morales government.

Evo, however, has lived up to the standards of a leader who is only interested in keep on changing the lives of his people and the welfare of his country, and especially that of the poorest. That’s why he moves away from electoral talks to launch programs like the BDP-Lab that supports young entrepreneurs to have their own companies with seed capital and supports them with 30% subsidized housing loans, boosting not just youth unemployment but also that they can buy their own home.

He even travelled last week to the Potosí region, where the largest lithium reserves worldwide are found to promote a project that will allow them to become the largest producer of lithium batteries for electric vehicles and, at the same time, become a hub of economic environmentalist development with the direct participation of Bolivian students and engineers who receive training at a Technology Center, one of the kind in the country.

In early September, the indigenous president was also able to pass a law that guarantees access to universal and full healthcare to people suffering from cancer, and not just through the development of programs but also ensuring its infrastructure. He then ratified that Bolivia would continue to advocate, firstly, for more social policies, and here the Unique Health System (UHS) created during his period of mandate occupies an important place. The creation of this system made possible the construction of three nuclear medicine centers, equipped with the best technology to fight cancer in cities like El Alto, La Paz and Santa Cruz.

That is what the far right-wing cannot forgive to Evo Morales, that his government continues to work nonstop, that they are attacked and yet, continue to provide opportunities for the youngest, almost 30% of the entire Bolivian population, the same young people who in 13 years the government built more than 5,000 schools for them, increased the resources sent to universities as well as jobs, just to mention those examples.

They can’t forgive him that amidst all that, he speaks in the United Nations, signs agreements and promotes concrete actions with world leaders to favor the fight against the eminent problems of the climate change, and that without resorting to economic measures known as “paquetazos” he still invests in social resources while ECLAC confirms that the Bolivian economy – once again - will grow the most and achieve more stability in the region by the end of 2019.

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Ecuadorean unemployment grows to 4.9%, highest in more than two years

Quito, October 17 (RHC)-- Unemployment in Ecuador reached 4.9 percent in September, growing 0.9 percent since September 2018, the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) reported Wednesday. 

According to the latest National Survey on Employment, Unemployment, and Under-employment, the number of unemployed in the last year grew by 74,053 people, by September 406,871 Ecuadoreans had no job. 

Adequate employment, which contemplates social benefits and a salary higher than the minimum was 38.5 percent; while underemployment registered represented 19.7 percent of the population.

Right-wing President Lenin Moreno’s neoliberal handling of the economy and the International Monetary Fund’s austerity measures are the main culprits behind this increase in unemployment.

On September 1, 2017, Moreno signed executive order 135, which stated the overall strategy to take in order to "optimize and reduce public spending." Based on that the Coordinating Company of Public Companies (EMCO) announced on February 2019 that public companies were to cut 10% of their payroll. According to EMCO, the companies under its coordination report 39,100 workers, which would mean almost firing 4,000 employees. 

While another determinant is the signing of a $4.2 billion deal with the IMF.  Ecuador’s government presented a Letter of Intent to the institution on March 1 which was made public on March 21.  This official document details all the actions and conditions a national government is willing to accept and apply in order to obtain the IMF loan, including major labor reforms and layoffs in the public sector.

As Minister of Finance and Economy Richard Martinez said an “urgent” labor reform will take place. Flexibility and deregulation will benefit employers at the cost of employees’ rights or, as the IMF has sugar-coated it, “reducing labor market rigidities and improving competitiveness.” The rationale behind this is that by allowing for less-rigid labor contracts there will be an “increase in female labor force participation and youth employment opportunities.”

In April, the country’s Minister of Labor informed that just from December 2018 to February 2019, 11,820 people have been fired from the public sector.

The structural reforms in the deal will create a recession in the country. As the IMF itself projects it with a contraction of real GDP of 0.5 percent, as well as a projected rise in unemployment for each of the first three years of the program.  While the Ecuadorean government projected an increase in the unemployment rate from 3.7 percent in 2018 to 4.7 in 2020.

“Even these forecasts appear to be quite over-optimistic for a number of reasons,” Mark Weisbrot and Andres Arauz argue in a report of the IMF program for Ecuador for the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Wednesday’s figures would surpass the “worst” forecasted year by the IMF which was meant to be 2021 with a 4.8 percent unemployment rate.  Thus the projections are grimmer and will likely result in a higher percentage of poverty throughout the country, especially the rural areas.

Edited by Ed Newman

  • Published in World

Ecuador revokes decree eliminating fuel subsidy

After 11 uninterrupted days of national strike, the government and the indigenous movement of Ecuador agreed this Sunday to revoke Decree 883, which eliminated the subsidy for extra gasoline and diesel.

A new resolution repealed the provision, which resulted in a massive popular rejection to President Lenín Moreno's measures.

National protests against the so-called package were thus terminated, as well as the measures in effect since last October 3, when the decree became effective and the demonstrations began, uniting the majority of Ecuadorian citizens.

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Curfew in Ecuador's Capital Temporarily Lifted - Armed Forces

The restriction on movement of people in the Ecuadorian capital city of Quito amid ongoing protests has been temporarily halted, the command of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces said in a statement on Sunday.

On Saturday, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno imposed a curfew and military control in Quito and its outskirts. The Ministry of Tourism advised tourists not to leave hotels and airport.

"The restriction of movement in the Quito area is temporarily halted from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. [16:30-01:00 GMT] on October 13," the statement read.

Restrictions remain in place in certain areas in the north of Quito, with the exception for the representatives of indigenous peoples who are expected to attend the meeting with Moreno on Sunday.

The meeting between the Ecuadorian president and protest leaders is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. local time.

Mass protests erupted in Ecuador in early October as thousands rallied across the country against the government's economic reforms, particularly, the decision to end decades-long fuel subsidies for people.

According to Moreno, Ecuador could no longer afford them and the cuts could help the country save some $2.27 billion a year. Additionally, the abolition of fuel subsidies was part of the Ecuadorian government's deal with the International Monetary Fund to be eligible for a $4.2 billion loan.

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Ecuador: Reports of Excessive Response to Protest Violence

Ecuadorian authorities should investigate and hold accountable demonstrators who committed serious acts of violence and members of security forces who responded with excessive force during ongoing anti-government protests, Human Rights Watch said today.

The protests began on October 3, 2019 after President Lenin Moreno signed off on austerity measures that eliminated a US$1.3 billion gasoline subsidy. Taxi and bus drivers, student groups, and thousands of indigenous people took to the streets in response, resulting in days of unrest.

“Ecuadorian authorities should conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into allegations of excessive force by security forces and due process violations, as well as of violence by protesters,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Accountability is key to ensure victims’ rights to justice and is an effective deterrent to abuse.”

Ecuador’s police have fired tear gas indiscriminately at protesters, sometimes in enclosed spaces or from a distance close enough to cause injuries, Human Rights Watch heard in interviews. The Ombudsperson’s Office reported that Ecuadorian authorities have detained more than 1,000 people since protests began and that some detainees were unable to contact their families or confer with attorneys.

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Ecuador: 90 Venezuelans Return Home

Quito, Jul 11 (Prensa Latina) Ninety Venezuelans returned home on Wednesday from this capital, as part of the Return to Homeland program, implemented by the Government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The returnees traveled by bus from the port city of Guayaquil to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport.

They took the 33rd Return to Homeland flight, as part of the humanitarian program established in September 2018.

On this occasion, 71 percent of passengers were adults, 22 percent were children and 5 percent were minors under two years of age.

As on previous flights, officials from the Venezuelan Embassy in Ecuador were present at the airport to guarantee all procedures for the departure of the aircraft.

According to statistics, more than 14,790 Venezuelans, including 7,145 from Brazil, 2,921 from Peru, 764 from Colombia, 276 from the Dominican Republic, 434 from Argentina and 272 from Chile, have returned home.

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100 years since the birth of Oswaldo Guayasamín

Excerpts of speech by Fidel during the inauguration of Guayasamín’s Chapel of man, Quito, Ecuador, November 29, 2002:

I remember the time very early in the Cuban Revolution, when, amidst hectic days, a man with an indigenous, tenacious, restless face, already well known and admired by many of our intellectuals, wanted to paint a portrait of me.

For the first time I was subjected to the torturous task. I was obliged to stand still, exactly as he said. I did not know if it would last an hour or a century…

I was in the presence of a no less than a great teacher and an exceptional person, who I would later come to know with ever-increasing admiration and deep affection: Oswaldo Guayasamín. He would have been around 42 years old at that time…

Guayasamín was perhaps the most noble and human person I ever met. He created at the speed of light, and his dimensions as a human being knew no limits…

I learned a great deal from my conversations with him.They enriched my conscience regarding the terrible drama of conquest, colonization, genocide and injustices committed against the indigenous peoples of this hemisphere: a lacerating pain that he carried among his deepest feelings. He was very knowledgeable about the history of that drama…

None of this escaped the profound thought, warmth and sense of human dignity of Oswaldo Guayasamín. He devoted his art and his life to building consciousness, denouncing, combating, and fighting these injustices.

  • Published in Culture

Cuba and Ecuador Celebrate Migration Talks Round

The 9th round of Migration Talks between Cuba and Ecuador is being held on Monday in this capital, the Foreign Ministry reported in its website.

The meeting will end Tuesday and is an important moment to strengthen bilateral cooperation in migration matters, in order to guarantee a regular, orderly and safe migration flow between both countries.

During the meeting, it also seeks to make a more effective confrontation to irregular migration and the fight against illegal trafficking of migrants, human trafficking and other related crimes, the report adds.

The Cuban delegation is headed by the Cuban deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Ana Teresita González, while the Ecuadorian side is headed by Deputy Minister of Human Mobility, Santiago Chavez.

  • Published in Cuba
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