Claiming that they have been left out of government planning for proposed tax and labor legislation, national labor, teacher, indigenous and student unions have announced nationwide protests for Wednesday, September 15.
The protests, led by the United Workers Front (FUT), National Union of Educators (UNE), the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) and the Popular Front of University Students, are planned for major cities, with the largest in Quito, according to Ángel Sánchez, FUT president.
“We have been promised a place at the table to develop new proposals to revitalize the country but the promise has been broken,” he says. He claims the “New Opportunities” legislation that President Guillermo Lasso plans to send to the National Assembly this week contains “neo-liberal proposals that leave Ecuador’s workers and poor population behind.”
“Once again, we demand an immediate freeze on fuel prices, payment of the debt to the Social Security system and a strengthening of protections for workers,” Sánchez said. “So far, our demands have been ignored.”
In a statement, the UNE said it will join the protest to demand a minimum salary for teachers guaranteed in a 2020 law passed by the National Assembly. “The Constitutional Court has confirmed our right to the provisions of the law but the government has refused to comply,” In addition to Wednesday’s protest, the UNE promises “progressively more intense mobilizations” until its demands are met.
Conaie President Leonidas Iza said he supports the demands of the protest and will organize mobilizations in indigenous communities throughout the country. “We must stand against the lies that the Lasso government is spreading about the indigenous movement and its policies of favoring the rich at the expense of the poor and rural people.”
Iza insisted that Lasso’s election does not provide carte blanche to institute “neo-liberal” economic policies in the country. “There are more unemployed and underemployed people in Ecuador than those who voted for him,” Iza said. “The vast majority of the people do not agree with his proposals and he will discover this if he goes to a national referendum.”
Sánchez promised a “much larger” turnout for Wednesday’s protest than for the August 13 mobilization. “People were scared of the pandemic at that time but the virus is finally going away and we are turning our attention to the economic and social issues that are affecting our lives.” Organizers of the August 13 protest in Quito expected 50,000 participants but only 7,000 or 8,000 turned out.