Although some leaders of the indigenous movement are urging Yaku Pérez supporters to vote nulo, or no, in the presidential runoff between Andrés Araúz and Guillermo Lasso,, Perez himself says they should be free to vote however they choose. The leadership of Pachakutik Party say they will make a formal recommendation about the April 11 runoff on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Indigenous leaders of both the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (Conaie) and Pachakutik are angered by the government decision not to recount votes in the race between Pérez and Lasso to determine Arauz’s challenger and consider the runoff fraudulent. Leaders of Conaie recommended a no vote last week, saying indigenous people should support neither of contenders. Others, however, including Perez, have doubts about calling for the no vote.
In the final election count, Perez lost to Lasso by less than 40,000 votes and demanded a recount of 27,000 voting stations.
Max Hidalgo, leader of Pachakutik Pichincha, says he will support a no vote at this week’s national Pachakutik meeting. “The election was a sham so how can you vote for either candidate in the runoff?” he asks. “We do not trust the National Electoral Council since there was a fraud in the first round. We believe that Perez should be facing Arauz in the runoff, not Lasso.”
He continued: “How can we support Arauz, whose master, Rafael Correa, put 671 of our people on trial. And how can we support the banker Lasso whose cronies persecute us with outrageous interest rates on our debts.
Hernan Morales, former Pachakutik committee member, says the voting decision conflict reflects divisions in the indigenous movement. “There are differences of style and ideology among the leaders that have existed for years,” he says. “Conaie leadership are self-proclaimed Indo-American communists while many in the party, including Perez, are leftists who oppose communism.” He added that there is still anger among more moderate indigenous leaders about the October 2019 protests, which were led by Leonidas Iza and Jaime Vargas, both part of the communist movement.
According to Morales, most Perez supporters will not vote no. “When they are casting their ballots in April, many of those who supported Yaku will decide that a no vote is a wasted vote no matter what the leadership recommends.”