Ecuador’s campaign for president and National Assembly seats ends tonight but supporters of women’s, gay and environmental rights say the candidates mostly ignored their issues.
“The fact that the candidates dodge major questions is no surprise and we’ve become accustomed to it,” says Quito sociologist and activist Natalia Sierra. “They are looking for votes and are afraid that addressing controversial issues will hurt their chances. Of the three leading presidential candidates, only Yaku Perez has been honest enough to state his positions and to support recognizing the rights of women and the LGBTI community.”
The campaign officially ends at midnight Thursday, starting the three-day “quiet” period preceding Sunday’s vote. The leading candidates, Andres Arauz, Guillermo Lasso and Perez, closed their campaigns with motor caravans through Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil on Wednesday with more planned for Thursday.
Sierra sees political contradictions in the positions of several of the candidates. “Arauz and the Correistas claim to be leftists but their positions in regard to women and gays is right wing with little difference between those of Lasso. We know Arauz’s positions because we know Correa’s, and he called our movement ‘frivolous and silly’,” she says.
She added that Arauz and Lasso are also in agreement in their opposition to abortion. “They both take their orders from the Pope,” she says.
Virginia Gómez de la Torre, director of Foundation for the Defense of Women, agrees with Sierra. “It is ironic that much of Ecuador’s left is actually reactionary and neo-liberal in their stance on issues that affect women. All we get from them are platitudes and clichés. No one except Yaku seems interested in taking a strong position against femicide and the abuse of girls.”
Environmental organizations are also dissatisfied with the presidential campaign. “Of the major candidates, only Perez pledged to protect the environment by stopping mining and reversing the oil trade,” says Klever Calle of the Yasunidos, the country’s leading environmental organization. “Of course, we know where the the Correistas stand on the environment – they are for rape and pillage. They committed fraud when they disallowed more than half the signatures for the referendum to stop Yasuni oil production and protect the national park.”
He adds: “One thing you can be sure of is that Ecuador’s environmentalists will not vote for Arauz.”