This article was originally written for socialistworld.net, the website of the Committee for a Workers’ International.
In the face of massive protests in Ecuador, the government of Lenin Moreno has been driven to declare a “state of exception” throughout the country – a repressive step just short of a state of emergency. Now the government of Lenin Moreno has been forced to flee and abandon the government buildings, in Quito, the capital, and relocate to the city of Guayaquil.
Workers, transport workers, indigenous organisations and students have called for mass mobilisations to halt the neo-liberal “paquetazo” that Moreno has attempted to impose. This would result in an increase in all fuel and a series of “reforms” – attacks – on the rights of workers and labour conditions. A huge demonstration of indigenous people and rural workers to the capital is taking place.
The government’s attacks left the Ecuadorean people no alternative but to take to the streets in an enormous mass protest and uprising. The government has degreed a “state of exception” for 60 days, in order to increase the levels of repression against the people and attempt to maintain social and political control. Through this it hoped to impede the protests, which are growing and point towards the downfall of the government. This measure only reflects the degree of desperation felt by the government.
Degree 883, signed by Moreno on 1 October, eliminates subsidies on basic goods. The most serious attack is on labour rights, which amongst other things would reduce by 20% the salaries of workers employed by the state. Holidays would be cut by 50%, from 30 days to 15 a year! This “Paquetazo” of brutal austerity was demanded of Lenin Moreno by the IMF. Once again, the IMF has acted as the economic agent of imperialism and obliged another government to commit political suicide, as occurred with Macri, in Argentina.
For this reason, the main union federation, Union General de Trabajadores del Ecuador (UGTE), called a national strike which took place on 3 October. There was a massive response by the population which did not wait. Hundreds of thousands came onto the streets to protest against the neo-liberal government of Lenin Moreno. The protests are not only against the increase in petrol prices but against the entire neo-liberal “Paquetazo” that they want to impose. Following clashed with the police and army some soldiers even joined the demonstrations.
Once again, another neo-liberal government of the right-wing has entered a crisis because they are trying to make the workers and poorest pay for the crisis created by the employers and the richest in society. The masses are giving a powerful response rejecting these policies.
The crisis developing through Latin America
In Haiti, at the moment, there is a generalized revolt demanding the resignation of the president. In Peru, there is a generalized political crisis which has resulted in the President closing down the Congress and it is unclear how this will develop. Following terrible primary election results, President Macri, in Argentina, is days away from facing a powerful defeat, as a result of the economic disaster and explosion of terrible poverty. Macri failed to reverse this situation, and it is probable that the opposition candidate, Fernández, will win in the first round.
Practically all Latin American right-wing governments face a deep crisis. Brazil and Chile complete the picture.
The entire prognosis put forward a few years ago about the “turn to the right” that they supposed would continue throughout the continent, have now been changed into the opposite. To govern today has become a nightmare for all the neo-liberal right-wing governments.
The working class of Latin America is not prepared to continue paying for the plates broken by the governments of the neo-liberal right. The next period is opening big struggles on the continent by the working class, as we are already seeing.
This will open enormous possibilities in the majority of Latin American countries to build a revolutionary socialist alternative. This is the only way to end the capitalist nightmare and to build a democratic socialist society of the workers and poor of the continent.