Retired military officers plan to protest the government’s decision to take money from retirement fund
Angry about last week’s government decision to take $41 million from a military retirement fund, retired military commanders say the will protest tomorrow in Quito. Organizers say that members of 20 national military organizations representing 30,000 retired personnel will participate.
Last week, the Department of Defense announced it would deduct the money following the announcement by the Attorney’s General’s office that it was investigating a 2010 land deal in Guayaquil. The AG said that the military sold land to Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry for $48 million when the property was officially appraised at $7.3 million.
On Friday, President Rafael Correa fired the country’s joint chiefs of staff after the investigation was announced, appointing a new military command. “This is money taken from the people of Ecuador, it does not belong to the military fund,” he said. “The evidence is strong that the money was taken fraudulently in the land sale.” Correa also announced a review of the military pension program, which he says pays “outrageously high” retirement salaries to top military officers.
The retired officers said that the the sale was legal and that they plan to go to court to keep the $41 million. “We have a legal and moral obligation to defend the the Social Security fund of the Armed Forces,” said Gen. Luis Garzón, the fired head of the joint chiefs. “The money rightfully belongs to members of the armed forces and their families.”
Retired military officers are also upset at legal proceedings against former officers accused of human rights violations, including torture, murder and disappearances in the 1980s. Some are demanding that full amnesty be granted to all those accused in several cases currently in the court system.