President Rafael Correa said on Saturday that he will not allow roads and public services to be closed during next month’s national strike by government opponents.
“I support free speech and right of people to march but we will not allow our roads to be closed or the services of the government to be suspended,” Correa said in his weekly sabitina address to the nation, held in Santa Rosa, in El Oro Province.
The pledge puts the government on a possible collision course with protesters who say they intend to shut down traffic in and out of Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca during the strike. called for August. 13.
The president again called his opposition “illegitimate” and said the way to political change is through the ballot box, not by disrupting the country’s daily operations. “They won only three percent of the vote in the last election,” Correa said, referring to indigenous and labor groups that have called the strike. “Since they do not have the support of the people, they have decided to cause chaos. They can march, they can have their speeches, but we will not let them harm the democracy.”
Correa also defended the national intelligence service, which has been accused of spying on opposition law makers and others. The charges stem from emails released by Wikileaks and other groups, of communications between government officials worldwide, including Ecuador, with the Italian company, The Hacking Team.
“What country in the world does not require intelligence,” Correa asked. “It is a legitimate law enforcement function of the government to collect information on drug traffickers, money launderers and other criminals. This is what we are doing and will continue to do to protect our country. All our intelligence gathering is done in strict adherence to the Constitution and standards of human rights.”
In 2009, the intelligences of the military, police, and other government agencies were consolidated into a new agency, SENAIN, and put in civilian hands, Correa said.