Three members of President Rafael Correa´s Pais party have resigned in opposition to his plan to hold a voter referendum aimed at reforming the justice system. Several other members of the president´s party have indicated that they may not support the referendum.
The defections, along with the resignation of two minor cabinet ministers over the plebiscite, will make it more difficult for Correa to gather the 63 votes needed to push his agenda through the 124-member legislature.
In addition to legislative review, the proposed referendum is currently undergoing a judicial review to see if it passes constitutional muster.
Correa proposed a set of constitutional changes last month that he said would improve the way judges are chosen but which critics argued were really aimed at tightening his grip on the country's institutions. The president claims that judges are responsible for rising levels of petty crime because they are not enforcing existing laws.
In addition to judicial reform, the referendum includes other questions including whether or not to outlaw bull fighting and whether the press should answer to government oversight.
"In the exercise of power, we must be willing to recognize limits," Congresswoman Maria Paula Romo said on Friday, announcing her resignation from Pais. Two other members quit the block in the last week of January.
CONAIE, the Ecuador´s largest and most influential indigenous organization announced in mid-January that it would oppose the referendum.
GOVERNMENT BEGINS CRACK-DOWN ON PIRATED DVDs AND CDs
The Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property (IEPI) announced that the agency has seized more than 110 000 counterfeit DVDs and CDs, mostly in Guayaquil.
The IEPI says the seizures will spread throughout the country in an effort to protect intellectual property rights. ¨The sales of counterfeit disks causes great harm to the legitimate owners of property and we intend to honor our international commitment to control the problem.”
Ecuador has made other attempts over the years to curb sales of illegal discs with minimal success. It is estimated by business groups that the sale of counterfeit discs employ more than 25,000 people in the country.
ECUADOR MAKES PLANS TO ADOPT DIGITAL TV TECHNOLOGY
An Ecuadorian government committee is studying the implications of moving from analog to Japanese/Brazilian digital television technology, a process that will take about 10 years, Superintendent of Telecommunications Fabian Jaramillo said.
Jaramillo said it is only a matter of time when the transition takes place. “We must make the change to keep up with improvements in technology. The decision will be about what system we eventually adopt.¨ He also said that the move to a digital format means that people would have to remove antennas from their roofs of the houses because they would saturate the digital signal. In addition, Ecuadorians will have to buy TV sets with the new technology or purchase decoders to read the digital signal.
The most sophisticated decoders would cost between 40 and 50 USD, while the basic decoders would be between 20 and 30 USD, although there is a possibility of manufacturing them in the country and two Ecuadorian companies are interested.
According to Jaramillo, the first cities to have the new technology will be Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Manta.
GOVERNMENT PLANS TO REDUCE SOME IMPORTS TO IMPROVE GDP
Ecuador´s government plans to cut imports of car parts, cellular telephones and household electronic devices, among others goods, in an effort to reduce the country's trade deficit, according to Minister of Production, Nathalie Cely, said Wednesday.
The government expects to cut imports by between $500 million and $650 million and to reduce the trade deficit from the current 12% to 8% of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2014.
Cely said at a press conference Jan. 28 that there will not be restrictions for imports of primary or capital goods.