Assembly votes for military assistance against crime; Inflation is lowest in South America; Farmers strike for fertilizer; Peru protests strand Ecuadorians

Dec 16, 2022 | 8 comments

The National Assembly has overwhelming approved President Guillermo Lasso’s proposal to allow the country’s armed forces to assist police in the fight against organized crime. The 118 to 2 vote orders the formation of a constitutional revision commission to change the constitution to allow the use of the military in some law enforcement functions.

Assemblywoman Isabel Enríquez said the commission recognizes the urgency of its order and will work as quickly as possible to bring a proposal back to the full Assembly. “Circumstances tell us we must make this change but it will be necessary to put limits on the assistance that the armed forces provide police agencies,” she said. “The army is not equipped or trained to handle most law enforcement activities and the changes to the constitution must be narrowly focused.”

The National Assembly voted Thursday night to form a commission to rewrite the constitution to allow the armed forces to assist police combat crime.

In addition to Enríquez, the Constitutional Reform Commission includes Assembly members Esteban Torres, Fernando Cedeño, Marlon Cadena, Ricardo Vanegas, Blanca Sacancela and Briana Villao.

Protests strand Ecuadorians in Peru
As many as a hundred Ecuadorians have been stranded in Peru due to protests blocking airports and roads. The Foreign Ministry says that Ecuadorian travelers are not in danger but are unable to leave the country because of protests following the impeachment and arrest of former president Pedro Castillo.

According to a Ministry spokeswoman, at least 20 Ecuadorians are waiting at the Cusco airport for flights back to Ecuador while another 15 are stranded at the Arequipa and Andahuaylas airports. “Although some flights have departed these airports, most air service has been suspended and there are hundreds waiting for flights to Lima and other cities,” she said. “In addition, we are receiving messages from other Ecuadorians who say they cannot leave Peru due to roadblocks.”

Farmers strike today for fertilizer
Richard Intriago, president of the Peasant Movement of Ecuador, will hold mobilizations in 10 provinces on Friday, December 16, to protest what he says are broken promises to deliver fertilizer to small farmers.

Intriago says his members can’t wait any longer. “We are told that the fertilizer would be delivered following negotiations with the campesino and indigenous groups,” he said. “Without it, we are not able to grow healthy crops and make a living.”

He adds that 500,000 farm families need 10 million liters of fertilizer by early January when the planting season begins. “These are the farmers who feed Ecuador so this is not simply a matter of assistance to farmers. It affects the entire country.”

Although the protests will be widespread, Intriago says the focus will be in Guayas Province.

‘Basic basket’ prices show ‘modest’ rise; Inflation rate is lowest in the region
The cost of Ecuador’s “basic family basket” rose from $756.51 to $761.14 between October to November, the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses reported Wednesday. According to the government, the family basket represents the cost of goods and services required by a family of five to remain above the poverty level.

“Given the inflationary pressure experienced throughout the region and the world, this modest increase is good news for Ecuadorian families,” the Institute said in a statement. “Overall inflation through the first 11 months of 2022 is 3.64%, which is a reduction from the 4.02% October rate.”

The Institute added that Ecuador’s inflation rate is the lowest among South American countries and second lowest among all Latin American countries.