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Political battle brews over the authority of the elected Citizens Participation Council

Ecuador’s attorney general’s office says that it is beginning an investigation of members of the recently elected Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control (Cpccs). The action follows a vote by the Cpccs to review judicial appointments made by its predecessor council, the transitional Cpccs, that ended its service in June.

Ecuador Attorney General Diana Salazar

Specifically, the investigation is aimed at Cpccs members José Tuárez, Rosa Chalá, Victoria Desintonio and Walter Gómez who voted in favor of the review.

Attorney General Diana Salazar said Thursday that the new Cpccs, elected in March, cannot review the work of the transitional Cpccs, which was established by the February 2018 public referendum. “The transition council was given extraordinary powers by the people of Ecuador to investigate and review previous public appointments for corruption and incompetence. It was made clear that the new council does not have the authority to review the work and appointments of the transitional Cpccs. This has been established by the Constitutional Court.”

Salazar’s investigation is based in part on complaints filed by National Assembly members Jeannine Cruz, Raúl Tello and Geovanni Atarihuana who claim that the Cpccs is overstepping its mandate.

According to former federal prosecutor Raúl Heridia, the conflict between the new and old Cpccs is political. “Some members of the council elected in the last election have sympathies for former president [Rafael] Correa and believe the work of the transitional council was aimed primarily at removing judges and other officials appointed during Correa’s administration,” he says. “The current government obviously holds the upper hand in this conflict.”

14 thoughts on “Political battle brews over the authority of the elected Citizens Participation Council

  1. Unreal.

    Partisan judicial appointments, especially for the highest levels, is the surest way of making a “democracy” defective and put at risk the very freedoms nations gloriously declare themselves founded to protect. So much for “impartial” justice.

    As well, an elected judiciary is just as bad. There is nothing sacrosanct about a popular vote in all things, especially when the position filled is far beyond the the ability of the voter to understand (or care much about for that matter!). Referendums are the WORST examples of passing the buck. We elect self-proclaimed experts to manage the country so we can go about our business and then they throw it back at us, most often accompanied by exhausting hype. It is easy to see why referendums too often lead to self-inflicted disaster.

    1. So what disasters do you see in Switzerland, where referendums about almost everything play a very important role?

      1. I don’t know Johan. I spent time there, even lived for a few months in the cute little canton of Zug..but you have to born in Switzerland to truly understand it. I was there long enough to see that Switzerland is an exception to so many rules. Do you think their referendum system could be successfully applied to any other country?

        The logical progression of a referendum system is to do away with expert representatives for government. The electorate could merely resolve every question with Iphone, mobile and ATM votes daily. But I don’t think that could make the trains run on time. (wryly)

        1. I would agree that a representative democracy can only ’work’ to the extent it’s populous and elected officials are -let’s say- educated. The big flaw in it ….. only land owners can vote might make some sense to the founding fathers considerations USA – they were at the time generally considered the educated and perhaps progressive class .

          1. But Edge, since the age of mass communication began, electorates have progressively (now flagrantly) abandoned the rationale method of choosing leaders. Talent for government is irrelevant. They are chosen for reasons having nothing to do with what we are choosing them for. Track record, experience, and education in the field are no longer of interest to voters. We would NEVER hire people that way (or even use it to buy a toaster oven.
            So our electoral processes have become inane. Slogans rather than position papers and policy (that admittedly the electorate doesn’t have the time or patience to understand). That’s like buying something vital and complex with an instruction book that has only blank pages save for the phrase “it will make you feel great again”. I prefer to know where to install the batteries and what it does.

            So we end up with what logic shows we deserve. Lousy government and people passionately fixated by meaningless labels. Dividing people is the easiet way to enslave them. Look at America..or England.

    2. I’m seeing disadvantages of elected judiciary because they will often make court decisions based on being re elected rather than good ole common sense and what is right.
      And then I see disadvantages of appointing judges especially if the government chooses partisan political ones.
      The successful countries (especially the ones that dont allow bribes) are the ones that appoint them based on merit and not their political strip.

      1. That’s how the Constitution indicates it is supposed to be done in Ecuador, but in the case of the current CC, they were appointed by JC Trujillo and his unelected transitional CPCCS after he unilaterally removed the entire previous court (a power not granted to him by the Constitution or the referendum). None of the current judges were even in the top 10 out of 28 candidates on the written and oral exams. The current CPCCS was recently elected even though the handpicked transitional CNE tried to nullify the election by telling everyone to cast a null vote and then took nearly two months to announce the official results to allow them to get to work. They are doing the job they were elected to do as clearly spelled out in the Constitution. The Assembly and the Attorney General (also appointed by the transitional council despite having the lowest score of all the candidates on the written and oral exams) are trying to block them because they know many of the actions of the transitional council were illegal. If these nefarious actions are successful, we can officially declare democracy and rule of law dead in Ecuador. The sad thing is there are so many people cheering for that very outcome.

        1. We’ll see if there’s a judicial review on the recent Amazon oil lease denial…which is probably what this is really about…

      2. Goes further than that dear (you have still not answered whether you are male or female). Frankly, partisan appointments to the judiciary are far worse than elected judges. But there is no fool-proof method to choose a members of a body that must stand independently of the government on the one hand and immune to the lack of knowledge of the electorate on the other.

        Other countries handle it by setting up ad hoc committees of appointees from judicial councils, the national Bar and other interest groups. These bodies CAN pick appointees with the qualifications to know what they are doing. They come up with short lists (3 per position) from which a leader can officially choose. Of course, there are procedures where judges can be moved for incompetence, corruptions, bias…
        But these methods (and any other) only work for sure if the culture of nation allows that. For example, a culture with a history of judicial impartiality will see that reflected no matter what system they use. For example, Canada had a PM who decided to stack our Supreme Court with judges with the political views he had, completely against tradition. He then passed laws or contested existing ones he did not like. His losses at that Court are now the stuff of legends. Each judge he chose became impartial on appointment. That was a tradition he could not alter.

        Doesn’t work that way in many countries. Their partisan courts are merely extensions of the party in power, eliminating the primary protection of the electorate against an erosion of their rights and debasement of their goals of their system of government.

    3. The law clearly specifies that the judges are supposed to be selected based on a selection process consisting of written and oral exams, education and years of experience. That process was never carried out to select the current court. The transitional CPCCS selected and appointed them by name. The really telling part is that the CPCCS does not have the power to appoint CC judges. That is the exclusive purview of the Judiciary Council. In other words, there is nothing legal about the current court, which is why they issued the unconstitutional order to lock in place all actions taken by the unelected, handpicked, illegal transitional council.

      1. Jason. Forgive me for cutting to the chase. The “law” is not working.

        I read the Ecuadorian Constitution some years ago. I do not recall details (thank you for your ongoing assistance in that area) but I remember being very impressed with most of it, and admiring of some features I have not seen before in such documents.

        I could merely say “Back to the drawing board”. But the issue is likely much more fundamental than that. History shows, time and again, that one cannot adopt/impose an advanced democratic template on a society who has never known anything but corruption since the Spanish arrived. An analogy would be declaring constitutionally, that “all men are created equal” on a culture/economy that has masses of racially chosen slaves. Without a major 50 year effort for a culture/values change, backed by education for generations, nothing really comes of it but horror, sometimes for centuries.

        Ecuador has no history of honest government or a honest judiciary. It will take time. (fingers crossed)

        1. There’s no need to go back to the drawing board. We just need to go back to appointing judges and officials the way the law stipulates . . . you know, the way it was done for the past 12 years before the transitional council stepped in and granted itself “extraordinary powers” to completely bypass the Constitution. The reason the right hates the CPCCS so much is because it ensured that the legal process was followed. That barred so many of the lifelong politicians from simply appointing people in return for loyalty. Their lackeys couldn’t win in a free and transparent selection process so long as the CPCCS was standing as gatekeeper.
          The CPCCS was enshrined in the 2008 Constitution specifically to end patronage and it worked fine until we got a government that decided it could do whatever it wants while the press ran interference for them. Every appointment made by the transitional council after August 2018 should be nullified (because that’s when their legal mandate granted in the referendum ran out even though they granted themselves an extension) and every appointment that did not adhere to the meritos and opposition process as required by law should be thrown out (nearly all of them). That includes the entire constitutional court (the CPCCS doesn’t even have the power to appoint them), the Attorney General (she got the lowest score of all the candidates for that position and didn’t even meet the minimum experience requirements … so they simply changed them) and the Contralor (he appointed himself to the position without any selection process taking place and the transitional council simply ordered that he remain since he was so helpful in refusing to prosecute their lackeys).
          Those three key positions are the ones providing cover for all the other illegalities currently taking it place. The Attorney General refuses to open an investigation on the INA Papers despite mountains of documentary evidence, meanwhile she jails anyone Moreno considers an opponent indefinitely and without charges while they “investigate” (remember Ola Bini?). They even publicly threatened to remove judges who do not rule in their favor, most recently demanding that the Judiciary Council fire the majority of the judges on the National Court of Justice because they ordered the release from pretrial detention of someone who previously worked in the Correa administration because the Attorney General failed to demonstrate why he should be jailed before trial. The President’s own chief of staff has been outed in multiple scandals for millions of dollars, but as long as they control the Contralor and AG offices, he’s safe from prosecution. So much of what they’ve been doing over the past two years is blatantly unconstitutional, but as long as they have a handpicked Constitutional Court refusing to hear suits brought against them, they can do whatever they want. This was all by design and key to that design was getting control of the CPCCS so that they could appoint these people to these positions even though they didn’t meet the qualifications.
          This won’t last forever. Like every time neoliberalism is foisted on a nation that didn’t vote for it, this government will eventually be forced to step down. They know it and the IMF knows it. They’re only trying to stay in there long enough to pillage the infrastructure by stealing billions in assets through privatization and to bog down any future government in so much debt that they won’t have any resources to work with. It’s the same old neoliberal playbook, undermine democracy by buying off lackeys, then get those lackeys to sign contracts obligating the nation to pay. They haven’t had to change it because it still works. All you need is a few individuals in key positions willing to sell out their country and a compliant press that refuses to report what’s happening.

  2. “The transition council was given extraordinary powers by the people of
    Ecuador to investigate and review previous public appointments for
    corruption and incompetence. It was made clear that the new council does
    not have the authority to review the work and appointments of the
    transitional Cpccs. This has been established by the Constitutional
    Court.”

    Nothing in the referendum that installed Moreno’s handpicked unelected transitional council mentioned anything about “extraordinary powers”. The referendum clearly stated that the council had the power to review appointments made by the previous CPCCS. The CPCCS did not nor does it have the power to remove or appoint judges to the Constitutional Court, but that didn’t stop them from illegally removing the entire court without even citing the grounds for removal and then appointing their own handpicked judges. Of the current judges on the court, NONE of them were in the top 10 of the 28 candidates on the written or oral exams, but the transitional council awarded its own points for merits it refused to disclose and even removed some education and experience requirements specified in the law when their some of their chosen candidates weren’t qualified.

    So it stands to reason that the court would then issue a ruling, a ruling made despite no case ever being presented asking for one, claiming that the current ELECTED council cannot even so much as review the actions of the previous UNELECTED council. The CPCCS is a coequal branch of government enshrined in the Constitution to oversee the actions of the other three branches. The idea that the legislature and the handpicked Fiscal (who scored 10/20 on the written and oral exams, the lowest score of all the candidates) have teamed up to block a branch of government from carrying out its Constitutionally mandated duties is just the latest in the example of the third-world circus they have turned the country into.

  3. “Some members of the council elected in the last election have
    sympathies for former president [Rafael] Correa and believe the work of
    the transitional council was aimed primarily at removing judges and
    other officials appointed during Correa’s administration,”

    Maybe because in many of the transitional council’s rulings, the only grounds they cited for removing an official was “because he’s a correista”. Or maybe it’s because of Trujillo’s repeated public pronouncements that the transitional council was elected to purge the government of all correistas.

    Maybe?

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