Luisa Lozano Quizhpe and Amable Angamarca Morocho have been sentenced to four years in prison. Both were accused of disrupting public services after allegedly closing a main road in Saraguro, a community located in the province of Loja in southern Ecuador. Their arrest took place on August 17, 2015, amid a national strike against Rafael Correa’s Government.
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“The violence began on August 17 after President Correa’s weekly public address, in which he called to open roads with any use of force. Thousands of military and police arrived with absolute violence. Over the microphone we called for dialogue, but to no avail. They started throwing tear gas and climbing over the women who were at the front,” recounted Karina Montero, a 30-year-old member of the political coordination body, the Assembly of the Peoples of the South. She also described how, during the crackdown on August 17, 2015, seven police officers beat a pregnant woman with truncheons, dragging her about 30 meters and spraying her with pepper gas. “We shouted that she was pregnant, to leave her. This frightened them and she was able to escape. The police responded by saying “So, we will put you in jail!”
Among the women who defended their pregnant companion was Luisa Lozano, a 39-year old public school janitor and a mother of four children aged between 5 and 19.
For her action, Luisa has been sentenced to four years in prison by the administration of justice in Loja, whose judges accepted the prosecution’s arguments that both Luisa and broadcaster Amable Angamarca obstructed public services. As the only evidence against Lozano, the prosecution presented a video of her in front of some stones that blocked the road.
Ten months after her arrest, Luisa travelled to Quito to denounce what she calls an outrage of justice by Correa-ism. She is not the only one who thinks so. Following the judgment in the Saraguro case, the Public Defender Ernesto Pazmiño denounced the punishment as disproportionate, saying he was “concerned” by the “unfair” sentence. He compared Lozano’s four-year prison term for stopping traffic with the one-year sentence for money laundering in the Fifagate case, or the three-month term issued to the former sports minister for embezzlement. Pazmiño went on to state that the Saraguro judgement demonstrates that not all are equal before the law in Ecuador and that justice acts most severely against the poorest.