The man who led the indigenous Pachakutik movement to a leadership position in Ecuador’s National Assembly for the first time is leaving the party. Yaku Pérez announced Wednesday in Cuenca that he is resigning from Pachakutik in protest of its decision to align itself with President-elect Guillermo Lasso and his conservative Creo (I Believe) party.
“My disagreement is with the deal the party made with Creo and the oligarchy,” said, Pérez, who polled almost 20 percent of the vote in February’s presidential election. “Its agenda is one of neoliberalism that has ruled Ecuador for decades and which will continue with natural resources extractivism and the criminalization of social protest.”
Pérez said his resignation was “probably inevitable” since he also opposed earlier negotiations that would have aligned Pachakutik with the Correista Unes party. “I oppose all enemies of the indigenous people, no matter their politics.”
Pérez said he holds no animosity toward Pachakutik members in the National Assembly and is pleased to see the movement’s Guadalupe Llori as the Assembly presidency. “I understand, however, that there was a price to pay for winning that position. I also understand there are sacrifices that must be made to gain power within the political arena but, for me, there are limits to what can be given away.”
In addition to his rejection of the Pachakutik deal with Lasso, Pérez admitted that he was “simply tired” of politics. “I need a break and want to return to my work in defense of clean water and against mining,” adding that some of that work will involve social resistance to mining and oil projects. “I hope my party does not support the extractive practices to continue but, if they do, I will be part of the civil disobedience against it.”
As Azuay Province prefect, Pérez led movements to stop mining, winning a key court case upholding a public vote opposing mining in Girón, south of Cuenca.
Pérez’s strong showing in the presidential election helped Pachakutik win 26 seats in the National Assembly, making it the second largest voting bloc. In previous elections, the party had won more than five seats on only one occasion.