Above photo: Guillermo Lasso.
Ecuador is on the way to an impeachment trial against its neo liberal president, Guillermo Lasso. This Wednesday, the Constitutional Court listened to the voice of parliamentarians, workers, Indigenous people, and many other citizens of Ecuador and admitted, in part, the demand for an impeachment trial of the banker turned president, Lasso, for the alleged crime of embezzlement.
Ecuador’s National Assembly overcame the first filter of the Legislative Administration Council (CAL), formed by seven assembly members, who are mostly from the opposition parties. CAL approved the impeachment request and sent the document to the Constitutional Court.
This is an unprecedented event for Ecuador. To date, there is no record of any impeachment trial against a president since its approval in the 2008 Constitution. The only time the Constitutional Court had an impeachment trial in its hands was in 2017 against former Vice President Jorge Glas, but he had already been sentenced and put in prison, so the political censure did not succeed.
The news was long-awaited among the Ecuadorian people. “This trial is a symbol for a desperate and hopeless country, for the thousands of unemployed and the millions of Ecuadorians who stopped believing in democracy,” expressed Andean parliamentarian Virgilio Hernandez.
“The fact that the Court has given way to the process against the ruler proves that there was always motivation, justification and support to raise it. Now the process has just begun. May the law, the aspirations of the people, and the Constitution triumph,” Congresswoman Paola Cabezas wrote.
The right-wing banker is accused of being politically responsible for an alleged corruption scheme in public companies, in which his brother-in-law, businessman Danilo Carrera, organized. And this is not the first time he has been involved in a political scandal of major proportions.
In June 2022, Lasso managed to avoid an impeachment process unleashed during widespread protests led by the country’s Indigenous movements due to the economic crisis and the high cost of living.
Recently, Lasso tried to portray himself as a victim. During the Ibero-American Summit held in the Dominican Republic last week, he emphatically denied his involvement in the events he is accused of and denounced – as he did last year – that a “coup d’état is being plotted, but this time it is a parliamentary coup planned by leftist sectors of the “Correismo” (followers of former president Rafael Correa) and the right-wing Social Christian Party.”
The Court Approved the Impeachment… What’s Next?
To remove the president from office, the impeachment request must get 92 out of 137 representatives’ votes. According to experts, the Lasso’s opponents are not far from getting them. However, the Constitution gives Lasso one option left before he is sentenced: he can dissolve the assembly by decreeing the so-called Muerte Cruzada.
The Ecuadorian Constitution grants this possibility to the president at any time within the first three years of government, and he may do so under three grounds. The first one is that the Assembly has assumed powers that do not correspond to it; the second one is due to a serious crisis or internal commotion; and the third one is the obstruction of a development plan proposed by the president.
If the president does invoke the Muerte Cruzada he will not be able to finish his term of office until 2025. The Electoral Council will have to immediately call for elections and will govern with executive decrees for six months until new authorities are appointed.
Although it remains to be seen what will happen, the possible removal of Lasso revives the hopes of the poor and dispossessed of a shattered country. Bankers and oligarchs usually get administrators to run countries for them but this time one of their own has taken charge and if he does go down it will be a bitter bill for the corporate world to swallow. At this point it can be said that there is some determination and momentum for that to happen. Cabezas added, “Ecuador trusts that the truth will come out, and justice will be done.”