Monday, June 27 marked 15 days since the beginning of the national strike in Ecuador against the right-wing government of President Guillermo Lasso and his neoliberal economic policies. Since June 13, hundreds of thousands of people have been organizing protests and roadblocks across the country with a set of 10 demands that support the working class in the face of rising inflation and cost of living. On Monday, under the banner of “There are 10 demands, not 10 cents”, members of various peasant, Indigenous and Afro-descendant organizations held a massive march in capital Quito to mark 15 days of the national strike and reinforce their social demands. The demands include: reduction and freeze of fuel prices; employment opportunities and labor guarantees...
An alliance of Indigenous organizations in Ecuador have held daily demonstrations after sharp increases in the costs for fuel and food. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) began their general strike actions on June 13 after huge price hikes crippled the capacity of rural and urban communities to access transportation and food for their households. In response to the demonstrations and an assortment of other forms of resistance, President Guillermo Lasso has declared a state of emergency in several provinces of the South American state. The order reads in part that: "To declare a state of exception due to serious internal commotion in the provinces of Azuay (south), Imbabura (north), Sucumbios (east) and Orellana (east).”
The Ecuadorian people, with the indigenous and peasant movement at the forefront, have taken to the streets to express their resistance to the adverse impacts of the extreme neoliberal policies implemented by the government of banker Guillermo Lasso. The peaceful nationwide mobilization is demanding from the government response to critical aspects that affect the people in their daily lives, such as the lack of employment and labor rights, a moratorium and renegotiation of personal and family debts, fair prices for peasant production, control of basic prices and an end to speculation, fuel prices, respect for collective rights, no privatization of strategic sectors and public patrimony, funds for healthcare, limits to mining and oil extraction, education for all and effective security and protection policies.
On the 10th day of the national strike in Ecuador, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Leonidas Iza, presented four conditions to the government of Guillermo Lasso before entering negotiations. The most significant condition was the end of police repression and cancellation of the nationwide state of exception. The indigenous leader also requested assurances that the government would not impose new decrees during the national strike, an end to attacks on demonstrators, respect for the humanitarian protection zones. Government response to requests In response, Ecuador’s Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, said that the government would not give in to the requests made by the Indigenous movements as conditions to end the national strike, which began on June 13. In addition, Carrillo announced the administration’s decision to implement a night curfew in an attempt to reduce demonstrations.
On Tuesday, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENAIE) denounced the death of an Indigenous protester as a result of police brutality in the city of Puyo, in the province of Pastaza. "The hands of the National Police and the Guillermo Lasso administration are stained with the blood of our brother who was vilely murdered with a shot at close range," the CONFENIAE said and released images in which Byron Guatatuca can be seen dying on the ground. . The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) denounced that the repression has increased since President Lasso decreed the State of Exception to try to end the national strike, which has already completed 9 consecutive days.
Hundreds of demonstrators continued to enter Ecuador's capital on Monday during the eighth day of a mobilization against the government called by the indigenous movement, while the blockade of roads connecting the city of Quito (north) with the north and south of the country is maintained, Images published on social networks show people walking on the road or in buckets of pick-up trucks in their eagerness to mobilize. In the afternoon, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) reported the arrival of indigenous people from the south of the country, who are currently near the Machachi canton (center), bordering the province of Pichincha, whose capital is Quito.
On Friday, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) President Leonidas Iza ratified that his organization will maintain the national strike as long as President Guillermo Lasso does not repeal his neoliberal policies and measures. He also announced that more Indigenous communities will undertake a march from the province of Cotopaxi to Quito City in the next 48 hours, for which his organization is making arrangements to guarantee some food for the thousands of protesters. In response to what Lasso said during a national television channel on Thursday night, Iza recalled that Ecuadorian social organizations have expressed their demands on several occasions and tried to find solutions to them through dialogue processes. The government, however, has not listened to the citizens.
The government’s attempt to quell protests by sweeping up alleged leaders not only failed, it backfired. News of the arrest of Leonidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), mobilized thousands of people to the Latacunga prison where he was taken and prompted a sea of condemnation of the government from a broad range of organizations, human rights groups and prominent figures. Lawmakers of the **left-wing Revolución Ciudadana were among those who denounced Lasso’s politically-motivated arrest and persecution of the indigenous leader. Iza’s 24 hours in custody ended when a judge accepted his request for alternative measures while the prosecutor initiates an investigation into the ‘paralysis of public services’ due to the national strike.
From the early hours of Monday, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) began a national strike against the government of Guillermo Lasso by blocking highways in provinces such as Pastaza, Napo, and Guayas. CONAIE President Leonidas Iza said that the social mobilization, which will continue for an indefinite period of time, emerges as a result of the reluctance of the Lasso administration to continue the dialogue process, the last meeting of which took place on November 10, 2021. Since then, Indigenous communities and farmers have been requested the reduction of fuel prices, the renegotiation of debts, the reduction of interest rates, fair prices for agricultural producers, job creation, and respect for labor rights.
The much-awaited trial of Swedish software developer and digital rights activist Ola Bini resumed in Ecuador on Monday, May 16. The current leg of the trial against Bini is continuing with the proceedings from an earlier three-day session that was held in January this year. The ongoing session will be on till Friday, May 20 and is expected to conclude the trial portion of the proceedings. The trial began after more than five hours of delay as the translator assigned for Bini arrived late to the court due to a reported misunderstanding. Bini has been charged with one count of illegal, non-consensual access to a computer or communications system, which carries a jail sentence of anywhere between three to five years. He was arrested in April 2019 by the Ecuadorian police in a process marred by major procedural lapses.
More than 100 environmental and human rights groups on Tuesday sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to pardon Steven Donziger, the attorney under house arrest for refusing to hand over privileged client information in a high-profile environmental case. In the letter, the groups decry the prosecution of Donziger—who has been jailed in his home and federal prison since 2019—as "retaliation for his work in defense of the rights of Indigenous peoples in Ecuador who were victims of Chevron Corporation's oil dumping." Donziger represented tens of thousands of Ecuadorian farmers and Indigenous people in a class-action lawsuit against Chevron that resulted in a multibillion-dollar judgment—which the fossil fuel giant has never paid—for its subsidiary Texaco's dumping of more than 16 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into rivers and pits in the Amazon rainforest.
Last week, one of the most important digital rights cases took place in Quito, Ecuador. Ola Bini, a software designer who makes tools for activists to protect their privacy, was arrested at the Quito airport in April, 2019 just hours after Julian Assange was taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Bini has been detained in Quito for almost three years. His prosecution has been fraught with irregularities. Clearing the FOG speaks with Veridiana Alimonti, a human rights lawyer and the Associate Director for Latin American Policy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, about the case, its connections to the Julian Assange case and the broader assault on our digital freedom.
The trial against Ola Bini, Swedish software developer and digital rights activist, is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, January 19, and continue for three days. The long-awaited trial comes after multiple delays, recusal of judges, documented harassment and surveillance of Bini, and constant shifting of charges from the prosecution leading to serious allegations of political interference in the case. In the meanwhile, digital rights advocacy groups and progressive media outlets are pushing for the Ecuadorian authorities to ensure a fair trial, that is not only free from political interference, but also made in “accordance with the law and expert technical criteria.” A group of observers, representing Regional Foundation for Human Rights Advisory (INREDH) and Observatory of Rights and Justice (ODJ), along with a coalition of rights groups and journalists from independent media outlets, will be attending the trial, to make sure that Bini is guaranteed his right to a fair trial.
For over two years EFF has been following the case of Swedish computer security expert Ola Bini, who was arrested in April, 2019, in Ecuador, following Julian Assange's ejection from that country’s London Embassy. Bini’s pre-trial hearing, which was suspended and rescheduled at least five times during 2020, was concluded on June 29, 2021. Despite the cloud that has hung over the case—political ramifications have seemed to drive the allegations, and Bini has been subjected to numerous due process and human rights violations—we are hopeful that the security expert will be afforded a transparent and fair trial and that due process will prevail. Ola Bini is known globally as a computer security expert; he is someone who builds secure tools and contributes to free software projects.
On October 18, 2021, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency for 60 days. This declaration led to the constitutional rights of Ecuadorian nationals being suspended and heavily armed troops flooding the streets in Ecuador. The immediate reason for the declaration was the murder of an 11-year-old boy named Sebastián Obando, who was killed in a crossfire between “an armed robber and a police officer” on October 17 at a cafeteria and ice cream parlor in the Centenario neighborhood in Guayaquil. The boy, who was shot three times, was shot in the heart, right arm and his back, said his father Tomás Obando. Lasso’s declaration of emergency built on the public outcry relating to this murder.