Ecuador’s May Day parades were mostly peaceful as thousands of marchers throughout the country marched in support of workers’ rights. Although protests against government policies were a prominent theme, they covered a wide range of issues and were relatively muted compared to previous May Days.
Common protest issues were government corruption, International Monetary Fund loan conditions, proposed changes to labor laws and the financial condition of the country’s Social Security system (IESS). In addition, at the Quito parade, sizeable contingents of marchers demanded an end to government layoffs and better working conditions for taxi drivers and sex workers.
In both Quito and Cuenca, many marchers carried signs and chanted in favor of former president Rafael Correa although others hoisted signs showing him behind bars in jail fatigues, standing besides his vice presdident, Jorge Glas, currently serving a prison term for corruption. There appeared almost no support for President Lenin Moreno. In Quito, hundreds of marchers chanted, “Ni Correa, ni Morneno,” (Neither Correa or Moreno).
In speeches following the parades, labor leaders warned that new labor laws being formulated by the government will reduce the rights of workers. In Quito, Popular Front President Nelson Erazo urged workers to remain in the streets. “The labor law revisions are being done to satisfy the demands for IMF loans along with the enforcement of other conditions that rob workers of their hard-earned status,” he said. “Moreno’s neoliberal policies will ruin Ecuador if we do not mobilize to stop them.”
Erazo also attacked the president for not restoring the financial health of the Social Security system. “Correa robbed IESS of billions of dollars and Moreno promised to return the money but he has not. This is the money of the workers of Ecuador and we demand that the system be fixed now. We have faithfully paid in and deserve to receive pensions for our hard work.”
Erazo also attacked Moreno for cutting government payroll. “Once again, he has failed to deliver on his promise to fix Rafael Correa’s corruption and, instead, is settling accounts on the backs of workers.”