Ecuador’s National Union of Educators (UNE), the country’s largest teachers’ union, has announced a nationwide protest for Thursday against the government decision revoking its right to represent teachers. UNE says the decision was politically motivated.
The Education Ministry removed the union’s non-profit status last week, claiming that it failed to disclose full information about its leadership.
UNE president Rosana called the government’s decision “political revenge,” saying that the 65-year-old organization is the only legitimate representation of teachers in Ecuador. “We are planning a large-scale protest of educators and workers for August 25. We will send a strong message to the government that we will not allow this union to be closed,” she said in a press conference Saturday.
The UNE has opposed most government education policies during President Rafael Correa’s administration, including a requirement for teacher competency tests, implementation of new school-year schedules, and establishment of larger, centralized schools to replace small community schools. The government calls the UNE a “radical leftist” organization that has promoted antagonism between teachers and the government and rejected modernizing the educational system.
UNE attorney Ciro Guzman called the government’s dissolution of the union an “act of arrogance” and said that it will continue to function and represent teachers. “We will not simply go away based on a simple resolution. From a legal point of view, the government’s process remains incomplete and from a constitutional point of view, they cannot eliminate our right of free association and free speech,” he said.
According to Rosana, the largest protests are being organized in Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil.