What Just Happened in Ecuador?

The people of Ecuador have just had a national strike – and won!

After more than two weeks of country-wide protests, the current government has agreed to meet their demands.

What was happening there and why?

To answer these questions, I want to refer you to two interviews with journalists and authors covering Latin America and Ecuador in particular.

Before I do that, three important things to know.

One, Ecuador, just like many countries in Latin America, has had a conservative (neoliberal) government for some years now.

Before the current president, Guillermo Lasso (definitely not the best Lasso out there), his predecessor, Lenín Moreno, took a clear political turn to neoliberalism, surprising his coalition partners.

Have you heard of what is often referred to as the Pink Tide or the Pink Wave? These were the (center)left-leaning governments that were formed on the continent throughout the 2000s. What followed that was a neoliberal wave, starting at approx. mid-2010. This is what Moreno’s government (2017 to 2021) was part of.

Two, the protests of June 2022 were not the first massive ones in Ecuador’s recent history.

The country saw a series of protests at the end of 2019, after then-president Moreno introduced austerity measures that removed a gasoline subsidy. In a way, what we’re seeing now – including the human rights violations by securities forces – is similar to what the people were demanding in 2019.

Three, when I say “the people”, I do mean numerous and diverse groups of Ecuadorian society.

Yet the group you should know – and something that you will hear about in the webinars below – is the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador, or CONAIE).

It’s a movement-like organisation that is sometimes praised for being one of the strongest indigenous movements in Latin America. And when we look at what they have managed to achieve in the country, maybe it’s a worthy title indeed.

And now, the webinars!

The first one was recorded as the strike was happening. It’s an interview with Camila Escalante, a reporter with Kawsachun News. Kawsachun News is a Bolivian media organisation that you should definitely follow!

The second webinar was recorded after the government has agreed to sign a deal with Ecuador’s indigenous leaders.

It’s an interview with Joe Emersberger, a journalist and author. He is part of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), another organisation you should check out.

What’s happening in a small country – also, depending on where you live, you might add: a small country far away! – might not seem like a big deal.

Yet if you watch these webinars, you’ll understand how significant this truly is.

Because big “people vs government” protests don’t always end like this.

PS. I’m not sharing these specific webinars only because they are by an organisation I currently work with. I do so because I do like our guests, and because it’s not that easy to find in-depth analyses on this topic in English. There is a deep-dive article by Joe Emersberger (the interviewee in the second webinar) that you can read here.

And if you speak Spanish, here’s an interesting article you will enjoy.

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