Usually a showcase of traditional costumed dancers, marching bands, and community floats, Saturday’s Azuay Province anniversary parade turned into an anti-Correa protest.
Although the dancers, bands and floats were on hand in the parade that marched through the historic district and continued down Av. Solano in New Town, Azuay Prefect Paúl Carrasco carried out his promise to make make the event a protest against the policies of President Rafael Correa.
Not everyone was happy about the politicalization of the parade. Two taxi drivers who said they are supporters of Correa, said their cooperatives had ordered them to march, carrying signs opposing the national government. “Our coop said we had to march or we would be fined $40,” said one driver. “I wish I could carry a sign for the president. People watching don’t know that many of us are not really part of a protest.”
Parade watchers had mixed views, some saying they wished the parade was the usual showcase of talent from all parts of the province while others said it was an ideal opportunity to show opposition to Correa. “The prefect is an opponent of the president and many of the people of Azuay stand with him,” said Jorge Serrano who watched the parade from Parque Calderon.
Carrasco, who shouted “Out, Correa, out,” during the procession, later accused the government of preventing protesters from outside of Cuenca from joining the parade. He claimed police stopped buses carrying opponents of Correa outside of town for political reasons. Police said that many of the chartered buses did not have valid documentation.
With the protest, Cuenca joined protests in Guayaquil and Quito in opposing Correa. The Guayaquil event reportedly included 375,000 in attendance but Correa said on Saturday that the number was a vast exaggeration, suggesting the real number was less than 100,000. “The original estimate was made by Nebot’s government so it is not reliable,” he said. Guayaquile Mayor Jaime Nebot organized the rally.