Government assures IMF it will honor agreement; Prison lawyers want Glas back behind bars; UN blasts Correa-era press freedom violations
Finance Minister Pablo Arosemena assured the International Monetary Fund Wednesday that President Guillermo Lasso will veto National Assembly legislation that would repeal tax reforms and other economic measures instituted in 2021. The reforms were part of a loan agreement with the IMF.
Lasso ordered the reforms by emergency decree, called the Organic Law for Economic Development and Fiscal Sustainability, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The reforms included a hike in tax rates and provisions to reduce the budget deficit.
In a press statement, Arosemena said the Assembly’s bill would not go into effect. “Obviously, if we were to follow the demands of the Assembly, it would be an economic bomb that would cause the loss of more than a billion dollars to the current budget and much more in the future,” he said. “For the good of the country and for our promise to the IMF, this will not happen.”
Arosemena said that Lasso would veto the National Assembly bill within the 30 days allowed by law.
Government lawyers want Glas returned to prison
Ecuador’s prison authority, the Comprehensive Service for Prisoners (SNAI), is demanding that a judge’s order freeing former vice president Jorge Glas from prison be revoked. On Monday, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas Judge Emerson Curipallo ordered Glas released from a Quito penitentiary claiming Glas’ human rights have been violated.
Glas is serving sentences of six and eight years for receiving bribes form the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and for illicit association.
SNAI attorneys say that Glas has received the treatment “granted to all prisoners and should be required to serve his term like other inmates.” Under Curipallo’s reasoning, the attorneys say, all 35,000 Ecuador prisoners could be released. “Do we want murders, rapists and thieves to be put back on the streets?” the lawyers asked in their court filing to reverse Curipallo’s decision.
Referendum questions will be on February ballot
The National Electoral Council said Thursday that President Guillermo Lasso’s popular referendum will be included in the February 5 regional elections. “After consideration of all options, we have decided to combine the questions of the president’s consultation with the sectional elections,” the CNE said in a statement. “It is unfeasible, based on costs, to hold a separate election.”
Diana Atamaint, CNE president, also announced that the eight questions of the referendum would appear on a single ballot. She said the suggestion that each question appear on a separate ballot would create “unreasonable confusion and paperwork” for vote counters.
The questions on the referendum include measures in bolster law enforcement, reduced the authority of the Citizen Participation Council and protect water resources.
UN blasts Ecuador for press freedom violations
The United Nations says that Ecuador is guilty of human rights violations against journalists and publishers of the Guayaquil newspaper El Universo and is demanding the government make reparations. The violations were committed during the administration of former president Rafael Correa, the UN says.
The UN Human Rights Committee demand stems from a complaint filed in 2016 by Carlos Eduardo Pérez, César Enrique Pérez and Carlos Nicolás Pérez, shareholders of El Universo, following threats and lawsuits filed against the newspaper by Correa. The newspaper was a frequent critic of government policies and published articles Correa objected to.
In a statement, the Committee said the state must guarantee “an effective and legally enforceable financial reparation for the verified violations that occurred under dictatorial press freedom restrictions enacted during the Correa presidency.”