Ten die in Guayaquil gunfight; Employment rates improve; Big crowds expected for May Day marches; Arguments mark indigenous Pachakutik election
Ten people were killed Saturday night in Guayaquil in what police say was a gunfight between rival gangs. Unlike the attack on a fishing dock last month in Esmeraldas that left nine workers day, police say all the dead in Guayaquil were gang members.
According to survivors of the violence on Calle Gómez Rendón in southwest of Guayaquil, the fight involved “unresolved grievances” between two unnamed gangs. “Among the reasons described to us was that one gang was moving into the Posorja port terminal used for drug transport. The terminal was previously controlled by the other gang,” a police captain said. “Other factors were personal, about wives and girlfriends of some of the gang members.”
According to the police report, most of the victims were watching a televised football game in a bar at about 8:45 p.m. when van filled with shooters drove by and opened fire.
Police Commander Willian Villarroel said the killers used both long rifles and handguns in the attack, with some getting out of the van to fire through the bar window. “Besides the gunfire, the assailants threw explosives into the bar, forcing some of the victims out onto the sidewalk.”
Villarroel said that five of the deceased had criminal records. “Based on everything we know, this was the result of a turf war between gangs.”
Big crowds expected for May Day parades
Today’s International Labor Day parades come with an agenda, according to United Workers Front President Marcela Arellano. “We all want Lasso out, either by resignation or impeachment,” he said. Labor Day — or May Day — parades will be held in dozens of towns and cities, the largest in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.
“This is not the typical labor day march,” Arellano says. “We live in a crisis, in difficult times, and the workers of Ecuador are demanding changes in the government, starting with the president,” he said. “We support impeachment but also believe the National Assembly is part of the problem. We need new leadership at all levels.”
According to Arellano, public safety is the biggest issue facing Ecuador. “All workers demand better security for themselves and their families. After that, we demand new laws protecting the rights of workers and the rehabilitation of the Social Security pension and health systems.”
Unemployment, under-employment rates drop
According to the National Survey of Employment, Ecuador’s employment picture showed improvement from a year ago. The survey indicated that the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% from 4.8% in March 2022. The under-employment rate also improved, with 34.6% of the population earning the basic salary of $450 compared to 32.7% in 2022.
“The employment figures show some recovery, and this means that the economy is better than it was a year ago but is still far less than desirable,” said Luis Tobar, economics professor at Cuenca’s Salesian Polytechnic University.
Tobar added that informal employment is Ecuador’s biggest problem. The official March 2023 figures show informality increasing 2.7%, from 51% to 53.7%. “This is good because it indicates more people are working but it is bad since they are not paying taxes and are not members the Social Security system.
He added that official estimates are far below the actual informal labor numbers. “Most non-government figures put informality between 60% and 70%.”
Pachakutik election sparks fight
Arguments broke out following the election of a new indigenous Pachakutik political party coordinator Saturday night in Puyo. Guillermo Churuchumbi, the candidate supported by Conaie President Leonidas Iza, won the election with 354 of the 955 votes cast at the convention.
Some members demanded a new vote, accusing Churuchumbi and Iza of being “puppets of Correismo.” Chants broke out in the audience of “Fuera Correa” and “Correa No.”
Defeated candidate Jorge Herrera insisted there be a run-off since Churuchumbi won with the support of only a third of voters. “We need consensus, not division,” he said. “There is a minority element among us who would join Pachakutik with our enemy Rafael Correa and we reject this absolutely.”
Speaking to the audience, Iza denied a link with Correa and his supporters. “There are no Correistas here,” he said. “We remember how the Correa government treated indigenous people. Churuchumbi and I are not a Correistas.”
On Sunday, Marcelo Tipán, president of the Pachakutik Electoral Tribunal, said there would be no new election. “Guillermo Churuchumbi is our new party coordinator and I call on all Pachakutik members to support him.”