Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa ratified military cooperation agreements between Ecuador and the United States on February 15. The agreements regarding joint operations to combat illegal maritime activity and the status of US troops in the country were signed by Noboa’s predecessor, Guillermo Lasso, in September 2023. They were ratified by the young president after a ruling by the Constitutional Court on January 23, 2024 that the agreements do not have to go through the legislature. The approval of the agreements comes in the second month of the “internal armed conflict” declared by Noboa on January 8, 2024 following a spike in violent crime by drug trafficking groups in the country.
Ecuador is experiencing a wave of organized crime violence that is linked to structural problems. It is the product of a complex context divided between the increase in poverty, new drug routes worldwide and the emergence of a local narco-bourgeoisie. Amid all this, a global crisis of neoliberal capitalism, and consequently, the decomposition and rupture of the social pact between classes, peoples and hegemonic blocks. In this context, the Government of Daniel Noboa has decided to confront the wave of drug crime that is drowning Ecuador through the declaration of internal armed conflict. In other words, war against the poor, forcibly financed by the poor, supported by the middle class, and certain sectors that have been trapped by the Government’s punitive discourse.
The commander of the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), General Laura Richardson, stated that the United States has a “five-year plan” in terms of security for Ecuador. “There are several things that we have done very recently with Ecuador,” General Richardson said in an interview with the Ecuadorian media Primicius on Tuesday, January 23. “For example, we have the Security Assistance Roadmap, called ESAR, with Ecuador. There is only one other country in the region with which we have signed this roadmap.” According to Richardson, the ESAR is a five-year plan that outlines “cooperation in security matters,” and it includes a binational working group to facilitate the exchange “between the Pentagon and Ecuador.”
When Rafael Correa entered Ecuador’s presidency in 2007, the nation faced an opportunity and a challenge. Ecuador’s economy depended on oil, and global crude prices were near a record high. Much of the oil was extracted by foreign companies, however, so as prices surged more wealth began flowing overseas. More than a third of Ecuadorians were living in poverty, and Correa had come to power as a leftist promising “radical, profound and quick changes to the current model of so much exploitation, of so much injustice.” Soon after taking office, Correa increased a recently enacted windfall tax on oil companies. The idea was to use the tax as leverage to extract better terms from the companies, and this fight against foreign firms quickly became a high-profile pillar of Correa’s broader campaign to assert the nation’s sovereignty.
History repeats itself. For centuries, the United States has sought ways to intervene in Latin America to strengthen its military presence and dominance in the region whenever a country is in crisis. And it is happening again. The current security crisis in Ecuador is presented as an opportunity for the United States to deepen its military presence in the Andean country. Under the guise of “contributing together to a safer and more stable region,” Washington announced on January 12 that it was sending the head of the Southern Command, General Laura Richardson, and other senior counter-narcotics and diplomatic officials to Ecuador to discuss with the government of President Daniel Noboa how to combat organized crime.
The systematic violence which has immersed Ecuador is the product of a process of deliberate destructuring of the rule of law derived from policies implemented by the last three neoliberal governments, warned Jorge Paladines, an academic at the Central University of Ecuador and a professor of law and political science, in an interview with Sputnik. That, today, Ecuador is in a situation of internal armed conflict, that the country has been plunged into a state of emergency, and that a live television program was interrupted by armed men, is not the result of spontaneity or chance.
People across the world were shocked to see a drug gang waving rifles and grenades in the TC Television studios in Guayaquil, and the scene was perhaps the cinematic peak of successive days of explosions, riots, lootings, shootings, car explosions, and widespread panic that has paralyzed the country. However, the shocking and unprecedented episode on the public channel in Guayaquil—and the events that preceded and followed it—are just the latest chapter in a spiral of organized violence that has lasted for about five years and that has metastasized in the last two. It is the sad metamorphosis of a country that went from being the second safest in Latin America to becoming the most violent, with a homicide rate that has grown almost 800% since 2019.
Imagine a developing country where a 43-year-old economist with a PhD from the University of Illinois, who is relatively unknown as a politician, runs for president and wins. Despite the preceding decades of corruption and institutional rot, he puts together a competent government and gets the economic policy right. The numbers tell much of the story: in the 10 years of his presidency, poverty fell by 41 percent; income per person grew at more than twice the rate of the previous 25 years; and public investment and government expenditure on health services doubled as a share of the economy.
On August 20, Ecuadorians went to the polls to elect a new president just over two years since the previous presidential elections of 2021. Luisa González of the Citizens’ Revolution party topped the poll with 33%. But since no candidate achieved the necessary threshold to win in the first round, the election will now be decided via a run-off election in October. She will face political newcomer Daniel Noboa of the center-right National Democratic Action Party, who surprised political observers by placing second in a crowded field with 24% of votes counted. González’s party was founded by former firebrand socialist president Rafael Correa after his original party, Country Alliance, became sullied by his successor Lenin Moreno.
Luisa González, of the Movimiento Revolución Ciudadana party, on Sunday took a lead in the first round of Ecuador’s presidential and legislative elections, which have been marred by political assassinations as the Andean nation struggles with a wave of violence that has brought homicide rates, under the Lasso administration, to record levels. Gonzalez is set to face the surprise second-place finisher Daniel Noboa in a run-off election in October, according to the National Electoral Council of Ecuador (CNE), as neither candidate won more than 50% of the ballot.
Once upon a time, Ecuador was considered an island of peace. Once upon a time, we were one of the safest countries in the continent. Once upon a time, the prisons worked, the Ministry of Justice functioned, and we felt that we had a government and a leader. A time when we saw our taxes turned into infrastructure, roads, hospitals, schools, and parks; there were fewer beggars in the streets and more children in schools. How did a country as beautiful as Ecuador become hell? Until recently, the hope of better winds for our nation made emigrants return with the promise of a brighter destiny, after the ferocious robbery of the bank crisis of 1999, which led to the exodus of thousands of Ecuadorians plunged into despair and poverty.
Washington, DC — A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research examines key indicators for Ecuador’s economy and finds that significant gains of the 2007–2017 period have been erased by subsequent governments that returned to the International Monetary Fund and slashed spending. As a result, poverty and economic inequality have increased, as have crime, insecurity, and worsened health outcomes. “The data make it clear: things have gotten much worse in Ecuador since 2017, with the return to the IMF and to destructive austerity,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said.
Fernando Villavicencio, who with the Guardian’s Luke Harding and Dan Collyns fabricated the notorious Guardian front page lie that Paul Manafort and Julian Assange held pro-Trump meetings in the Ecuadorean Embassy, has been shot dead in Ecuador. The appalling lie, which the Guardian’s $700,000 a year editor has refused to retract or remove, despite criticism even from the Washington Post which named Villavicencio as the fabricator, was aimed to give support to Clinton’s flagging “Russiagate” invention, which was crumbling fast.
Less than a month after a surprise designation as the presidential candidate of the Citizens’ Revolution, polls show Luisa González as the favorite to win the elections in Ecuador, far ahead of her closest opponent. Her candidacy’s strong point lies in being endorsed by the Citizens’ Revolution (RC) movement, led by former President Rafael Correa. This movement has won three consecutive presidential elections: firstly with Correa from 2007 to 2017, followed by Lenín Moreno’s term from 2017 to 2021. It was only in the 2021 presidential elections that the movement faced defeat in the runoff against current President Guillermo Lasso.
Last week right-wing Ecuadorian president Guillermo Lasso dissolved the national assembly. In stark contrast to their response to a similar move by the leftist president of Peru five months ago, Ottawa effectively supported the measure. As he was on the cusp of being impeached over corruption allegations Lasso dissolved the national assembly. He called on military leaders to endorse his initiative, sent police to take over Congress and cut internet connections to the legislature. The constitutional provision Lasso cited to dissolve the national assembly has never been employed before and it allows the president to rule by decree for six months (though elections need to be held within three months).