Another controversial law was passed (April 14th 2015)
With 91 votes in favor, the National Assembly passed the controversial Labor Fairness and Recognition of Domestic Work Law. The document raised a number of questions from various sectors of society because, they believe, some of its articles could endanger social security in Ecuador, among them the abolition of the State’s obligation to finance 40% of members’ benefits for the payment of pensions. This, according to the regime’s opposition, will jeopardize the social system in a few years time. One of the approved items mandates the affiliation of 1.5 million housewives. Another sets a limit to workers’ profits.
Poverty decreases, according to the government (April 13th, 2015)
The poverty rate measured on the basis of consumption and unsatisfied basic needs has decreased, according to information provided by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC). The entity has stated that consumption poverty fell by 32.6% between 2006 and 2014, affecting a total of 1.3 million people. José Rosero, director of INEC, explained that the consumption poverty indicator takes into account potential savings, loans, family support, etc. that enable a family to keep consuming regardless of whether it loses its source of income.
A citizen oversight entity was born (April 12th 2015)
A Citizen Observatory was established in Quito to oversee three agencies: the National Electoral Council (CNE), the Contentious Electoral Tribunal and the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control. The new group was founded on the basis of two constitutional mandates of 2008, which establish citizen oversight of the actions of electoral and social control entities. Fausto Camacho, a former member of the CNE who was disqualified from the current bidding process, is the coordinator of the observatory, which also includes former presidents and former members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and former provincial tribunals. They have been joined by social activists.
Obama and Correa disagree in Panama (April 9th 2015)
The VII Summit of the Americas, held in Panama City, produced an exchange of views between US president, Barack Obama and Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa. The two leaders gave speeches at the plenary session of the continental meeting and their differences focused on two issues, especially: Washington’s interference in the region’s affairs and the situation of the press. About this second subject Correa said: “I think we all agree that a good press is vital for true democracy, but we must also agree that a bad press is deadly for the same democracy and the Latin American press is bad, very bad”. To which Obama responded: “Perhaps President Correa has more confidence than I do in distinguishing between good press and bad press. There are a whole bunch of press that I think is bad, mainly because it criticizes me, but they continue to speak out in the United States because I don’t have confidence in a system in which one person is making that determination. I think that if we believe in democracy it means that everybody has the chance to speak out and offer their opinions, and stand up for what they believe is right”.
Ruling against military officers (April 9th 2015)
Sixty-three members of the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE) were convicted of the crime of suspension of a public service. The Prosecution stated that they could face 8 to 12 years in prison. The ruling was issued by the First Criminal Court of Pichincha, as part of the case that investigated the suspension of operations at Mariscal Sucre airport during the police uprising of September 30th, 2010. The Court found another eight officers not guilty, although the Prosecution filed charges against all 71 defendants. Four members of the FAE failed to stand trial and are fugitives from justice.
Journalist on the ropes (31 March 2015)
The Criminal Division of the National Court of Justice (CNJ) rescheduled its ruling on the judicial review requested by the journalist from the city of Loja, Fredi Aponte, against a five-year prison sentence for the alleged crime of fraudulent bankruptcy. The journalist was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay USD 54,000 in compensation for alleged moral damage, after saying that the Mayor of Loja, Bolívar Castillo, appropriated some public lands.
Another faux pas on Twitter by the president (30 March 2015)
President Rafael Correa received hundreds of criticisms in the social network Twitter after his comments about Easter (the most important week of the year for Catholics). The president published a series of tweets: “…the same hands that clapped receiving Jesus as king, demanded his crucifixion because …he believed himself to be king!… Manipulated by the public opinion makers, the high priests, did not hesitate to demand the release of the criminal and the death of the innocent…”. The reaction in the social network was immediate and large. The users even created the hashtag #AlabadoSeasMashi (#allPraiseToYouMashi) to ridicule his statements. “Forgive us our trespasses as we send flowers to those who trespass against us…”, wrote one Twitter user, referring to the recent threats against user ‘Crudo Ecuador’.
Secom threatens Fundamedios (27 March 2015)
The National Communications Secretariat (Secom) threatened Fundamedios with legal actions for using its logo in a design that was part of a tweet that outlined the most recent entry in Roberto Aguilar’s blog titled: “Rafael Correa, author of Don Quixote”. Secom warned Fundamedios that it may not pursue matters of a political nature and demanded that the image should be withdrawn immediately threatening to take legal actions. Fundamedios rejected this direct threat caused by the use of the logo of a public institution arguing that Secom is abusing its authority by acting as if it were the owner of the logo of a public body.
IAPA supports La Hora (24 March 2015)
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed solidarity with the Ecuadorian newspaper La Hora for its “resistance” to the fine imposed by the Government which, it believes, “restricts press freedom” in the country. The Superintendence of Information and Communication (Supercom) considered that La Hora broke the law and fined it when it displayed a paid notice by an opposition leader as an advertisement when, according to Supercom, it should have been classified as an opinion piece. “We unconditionally support La Hora’s decision to confront and resist an authoritarian and discriminatory decision by the government, which is backed by a law whose application restricts press freedom, imposes censorship and generates self-censorship”, said Gustavo Mohme, president of IAPA.
Controversy surrounding the CIA (23 March 2015)
President Rafael Correa, through his Twitter account, stated that the news agency AFP lied regarding a press release about the 19 March mobilization. In the article AFP states that the president asserted that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had infiltrated the demonstration. “They are people who have nothing to lose, people who even want us to stop them, etcetera, so they can appear as victims. They are people who have nothing to lose, they are the kamikazes, the Taliban, even the right, because they are doing a favor to the right, there is infiltration of the CIA, etcetera, to wear down our government, to take away our joy…”, Correa said in his Saturday program following the march.
A twist in the Assange case (22 March 2015)
The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, will accept that the Swedish prosecutor take his statement in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the two cases of sexual offence attributed to him, as long as certain conditions are met. “I always said they could come if they wanted to talk. That offer was always on the table. I am very happy that the prosecutor accepted”, declared Assange during a teleconference from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he is still taking refuge. The founder of Wikileaks, the site responsible for the leak of thousands of secret US documents, participated in a side event of the UN Human Rights Council, organized precisely by the Ecuadorian misión.
More protests on the agenda (March 3, 2015)
Social movements are getting ready a series of demonstrations throughout the country to be held during March. The calendar begins with the Peoples’ Summit scheduled for 5 and 6 March, when plans have been made to strengthen a joint agenda of mobilizations. Marches through the streets of Quito have also been planned to protest against issues such as reforms to the Labor Code, alleged violations of Human Rights and even to reject the possibility that the Conie is removed from its headquarters. Then on 19 March, a national march that will bring together indigenous peoples, workers, teachers, doctors, merchants, etc., is being planned. And finally, the Rural Social Security System has announced a mobilization on 26 March.
A new anti-smuggling system (March 3, 2015)
The large numbers of smuggled goods in Ecuador pressured the government to begin a series of joint operations involving the Police, Armed Forces and National Customs Service (Senae), which will now include an incentives plan. Namely, any goods entering the country without valid documents will be auctioned and 50% of the proceeds will be used to encourage those who physically carry out the arrests. 25% will go to the intelligence team and the remaining 25% will be used to create a fund to compensate those who provide information on smuggling.
A different plan for sexuality (February 28, 2015)
The government changed direction regarding the prevention of teenage pregnancy. With a decree, the Intersectoral Strategy for Teen Pregnancy Family Planning (Enipla) was eliminated and replaced by the Ecuador Family Plan. According to the Administration, Enipla made mistakes by setting aside values and the importance of the family in public policies. The new plan will be led by Mónica Hernández, who is not well regarded by those who are in favor of abortion and gay marriage due to her alleged conservative position on sexuality.
IACHR urges Ecuadorian Government to show respect (February 25, 2015)
The political satire website Crudo Ecuador was closed by its administrator after he received anonymous threats against his and his family’s integrity. The administrator received a bouquet of flowers with an ironic message about his memes. This provoked international condemnation. Even the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) made a statement urging the Ecuadorian government to consider the consequences that stigmatizing declarations made by government officials could have in the lives and integrity of people .
Lower wages for civil servants (February 24, 2015)
As a strategy to obtain resources to hire doctors, the government has ordered a pay cut, starting in March this year, for higher-ranking public officials, except in the areas of Health, Education, Justice, Armed Forces and National Police. This measure, according to Labor Minister Carlos Marx Carrasco, will affect approximately 6,500 civil servants. The reduction will be of 10% for the president, 9% for the vice-president, 8% for ministers, 7% for vice-ministers, 6% for undersecretaries and 5% for coordinators.
4G network arrives at Ecuador after negotiation (February 3 2015)
The Ministry of Telecommunications closed its negotiations with cellphone operators Claro and Movistar for the allocation of the 4G spectrum, which will earn the State about USD 330 million. According to the authorities, Movistar will pay USD 150 million for the frequency while Claro will pay USD 180 million. The concession contracts will expire in 2023.
Ecuador advertised during the Super Bowl (February 1, 2015)
The final football game of the season in the USA, a spectacle that this year attracted 114.4 million viewers in that country, was the setting to advertise tourism in Ecuador. The cost of broadcasting the advertisement All I Need is Ecuador for 30 seconds during the game was USD 4.5 million. This strategy generated a widespread debate in and outside the country, due to the fact that it may have been an unnecessary expense at a time when the government itself has described 2015 as financially challenging. Despite this the authorities have stated that tourism is expected to increase by 5%, which will more than cover the cost of the advert.
Ecuador rejects the Inter-American System of Human Rights (January 28, 2015)
In Costa Rica, on taking over the leadership at the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Ecuadorian President prevented this body from endorsing a statement supporting the Inter-American Human Rights System, arguing that the USA has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights. He called on the region to unite and constitute a Latin American Court of Human Rights.
The wounds of 30-S are still open (January 26, 2015)
The publication of a book by the former chief of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, Ernesto González, in which he claims that President Rafael Correa was not kidnapped – as stated in the official account of the day – but held during the police uprising of September 30, 2010, fueled the tension. In response to this, the president downplayed the content of the book and again blamed the media, during celebrations on the anniversary of the Cenepa War, as being responsible for the misinformation that day.
A ‘war’ breaks out in the networks (January 24, 2015)
The controversy caused by a meme published in the Facebook page Crudo Ecuador, which made President Rafael Correa feel insulted, took on the tinge of virtual ‘war’ after the president’s announcement of the creation of the Twitter account Somos +. The President justified the launch of this account citing ‘a smear campaign in the social networks’. He also noted that he will discover who is behind these accounts and that he will apply the law to prevent the alleged campaign from continuing.
Discomfort with Andean partners (January 20, 2015)
Following the Ecuadorian government’s decision to impose, since January 5, a tariff of 21% to Colombian imports and 7% to Peruvian imports, representatives of the three countries met in Quito to analyze possible solutions. The regime defended its right to set these tariffs based on its lack of a monetary policy that would allow it to confront economic fluctuations. Finally, Ecuador agreed to review the tariffs.
Eight years of Rafael Correa in power (January 15, 2015)
Rafael Correa’s government completed its eighth year at the helm of the country. The celebrations reached their peak in the premises of the Yachay City of Knowledge, the research center inaugurated in 2014 in northern Ecuador. Correa came into office for the first time on January 15, 2007. Subsequently, in 2009, he was the winner of early elections after the adoption of a new constitution. In 2013 he won his second election, which will keep him in power until 2017.