Several National Assembly members are pushing legislation that would allow police greater use of force in combating crime, including authorization to shoot to kill. “If law enforcement officers have to shoot criminals to protect the public, they have my full support,” says Esteban Torres, leader of the Social Christian Party. He claims his position is shared by most of the Social Christian Assembly delegation.
Under current law, Esteban and others claim police are restricted in the use of force, with the rights of alleged law-breakers put ahead of law enforcement. “There are police officers who are serving prison terms for killing convicted criminals,” Torres says. “It is crazy to put considerations for those who break the law ahead of those who enforce it. It is time to make a change.”
Torres and the Social Christian position is at odds with those of Assembly members of the Correista Union of Hope party as well as most of the indigenous Pachekutic movement who worry that greater police power will be used against indigenous protesters. The Social Christians have been allies of the Correistas in opposing much of President Guillermo Lasso’s legislative agenda.
Torres says some of Lasso’s proposals to strengthen law enforcement that were rejected by the Assembly in September should be reconsidered. “I would go beyond those and advocate even more authority for the police,” he says, adding that Lasso has failed in presenting a coordinated plan to strengthen law enforcement. “Emergency declarations solve nothing. There must be organic changes in how the country confronts crime.”
Fenocin sets November 15 strike date
The National Confederation of Peasant, Indigenous and Negro Organizations (Fenocin) says it has not changed its plan to mobilize against the government and says it will block coastal highways beginning November 15 if its demands are not met.
Fenocin President Gary Espinoza said the strike could be averted if the government cancels debts of the poor Ecuadorians. “We are talking to them and they say they will honor the agreement they made during the negotiations but they have not done it yet,” he says. “By participating in the negotiations, we did not renounce our right to resistance and we stand ready to make good on our plans if the government does not keep its promises.”
During the 90-day talks following the June indigenous strike, the government said it would cancel some debts up to $3,000 but said was waiting for a “comprehensive, overall” agreement with indigenous organizations before enacting any agreement.
On Monday, Government Minister Francisco Jiménez said he was confident that a strike could be avoided and believes an “arrangement will be reached” with Fenocin.
Business leaders in Guayas, Manabi and Esmerladas Provinces met with Jiménez over the weekend to to push the government to find a solution to the impasse and said it should use force to keep roads clear if the strike proceeds. “The business and productive sector was badly hurt by the June strike and has still not recovered,” he said. “We hope an agreement can be reached. On the other hand, we cannot allow a minority group to violently impose its will on the country if its demands are not met.”
Peru quake felt in Cuenca, southern Ecuador
A strong 5.6 magnitude earthquake, centered near Piura, Peru, was felt in Cuenca and much of the rest of southern Ecuador Tuesday night. The Geophysical Institute said that that quake was felt in Azuay, Canar, El Oro, Guayas, Loja and Zamora Chinchipe Provinces.
Early reports from Piura say the quake collapsed dozens of structures in the northern coast region of Peru and was responsible for several injuries.