Referendum questions are ready but government won’t say what they are; Judge in Correa defamation case suspended; Transsexual vendor murdered
Government Minister Francisco Jiménez said Monday that the questions for a popular referendum have mostly been determined but did not say what they are. “We have decided on 10 questions but may add two more,” he said in a radio interview. “We will announce them when they are ready to be submitted to the Constitutional Court, which should be within a matter of days.”
According to political leaders and analysts, the content of the referendum could have a major impact on the political climate of the country for the next two years.
“Even the so-called insiders don’t know what the president intends with this,” says Miguel Iglesias, former National Assembly member. “Will he be bold and try to reverse actions of the Assembly or will he be timid and present narrowly worded questions that will not upset the status quo? Will he challenge the Correistas or walk away from the fight?”
Current National Assemblyman Fernando Villavicencio says he hopes Lasso takes a strong stand against the Correistas. “The country is a mess today and my hope is that the referendum will help clean this up,” he says. “Lately, President [Guillmero] Lasso has been essentially missing in action, going with the flow and ignoring the problems.”
According to Jiménez, most of the proposed questions involve constitutional changes. “We will propose making improvements to the public policy process and reduce the confusion,” he said. “We want a pronouncement from the people on the issues we believe are most important to them, such as law enforcement, corruption and the smooth operation of government functions. There have been breakdowns in the legislative process that impede progress and this must be overcome.”
Depending on the questions, Iglesias says that Lasso should enjoy success in the referendum. “People are scared of the crime, especially on the coast, and angry that more has not been done about it. They are angry that the Assembly did not grant police the right to use more force to confront lawlessness. They are also angry that the government did not do more to clear the roadblocks during the Conaie strike in June. My question is, will the consultation allow people to vote to improve law enforcement capability? I guess we will know soon.”
Following a review by the Constitutional Court, a decision will be made about the referendum date, Jiménez said.
Judge in 2012 El Universo case suspended
Ecuador’s National Judicial Council of the Judiciary has suspended Judge Juan Aurelio Paredes for “judicial negligence” for his ruling in 2012 case against the Guayaquil newspaper El Universo. Paredes ruled in favor of former president Rafael Correa against the newspaper’s editor, Emilio Palacios, claiming an editorial written by Palacios defamed Correa. Parades awarded Correa $40 million in compensation, although the judgement was never paid.
The Council said that Paredes ignored the constitutional right to free speech in his ruling and bowed to political pressure and intimidation from the government.
Transsexual market vendor murdered in Ambato
Jessica Martinez, an Afro-Ecuadorian transgender activist, was murdered Saturday at her market stall in Ambato. According to friends, her reports of threats on her life had been ignored by police and market administrators.
A fellow vendor said she was unsure if Martinez was killed because of her race or sexual orientation but acknowledged that she was threatened on a daily basis. “People came around demanding that she pay insurance money to stay alive,” the vendor said. “She told the police many times but they just laughed and said she deserved what was coming. It is outrageous how she was treated and how she was ignored. We have filed a petition demanding to know why she wasn’t protected. She was a good person.”
The prosecutor’s office in Ambato said it has opened and investigation to find the murderer and will evaluate the response of the National Police to Martinez’s requests for help.