Two days before a scheduled convention by the faction of Alianza País (AP) loyal to former president Rafael Correa, the group still does not have a place to meet. On Thursday, the Esmeraldas Chamber of Commerce denied the AP group use of its meeting facilities at the city’s fairgrounds.
“This is political persecution,” said Paola Cabezas, convention coordinator, who threatened emergency legal action to force access to the facility. “We have 1,500 supporters coming to town on Sunday and we need a place to convene.”
Cabezas said the convention is also considering using a hostal south of Emeraldas but would prefer the larger fairgrounds location.
In addition to securing a location, the convention may face a problem of getting its participants to and from the meeting site. The Esmeraldas Transporters Front, which includes bus and taxi companies, said its members may refuse to provide services to convention participants. The front has pledged its loyalty to President Lenin Moreno and says it considers the convention headed by Correa “illegitimate.” Lupo Quiñónez, president of one Esmeraldas bus cooperative said his drivers would not pick up Correa supporters. “Why would we aid an effort to illegally remove President Moreno from his own party?”
One of the convention’s objectives, according to Correa, is to expel Moreno from membership in the AP.
The convention encountered yet another set-back Thursday when the National Electoral Council (CNE) denied a request to send a delegate to the meeting. Traditionally, a CNE representative has attended political conventions to sanction the actions that they take.
“At this point, we consider the convention to be illegal,” said CNE Vice President Ana Marcela Paredes. “The Court of Criminal Guarantees is reviewing actions taken by the leadership of AP at an early meeting and until this is resolved we are unable to certify actions taken at another meeting,” she added.