Ecuador: THE MONROE DOCTRINE IS ALIVE AND WELL December 23, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Ecuador Politics, History, Government, Culture, Ecuador Writing, Ecuador: The Monroe Doctrine is Alive and Well.
Tags: antonio vargas, arteaga, bucaram, CONAIE, democracy, ecuador coup, ecuador goverhment, Ecuador history, ecuador uprising, ecuadror, general mendoza, gustavo noboa, Latin America, mahuad, monroe doctrine, peter romero, pre, roger hollander
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(This is an analytic letter I wrote several months after the fact, with my interpretation of the significance of the events of January 2000.)
Subj: Fwd: Ecuador Bulletin 4
Date: 9/21/00 7:21:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time
In true Biblical fashion, before the cock crowed thrice, was the betrayal. Antonio Vargas, leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, made the mistake of taking the military at its word.
We went to bed Friday night with the military supporting a popular regime, and we awoke Saturday morning with the military in bed with its customary concubine (a U.S. approved Congress and President).
We have to interpolate, because what happens of importance happens behind closed doors. Clearly, a new Ecuador, governed by a coalition of Indigenous (nearly half the population) peoples and one of the few judicial representatives not tainted with corruption and nepotism, was not acceptable to the existing power structure or its United States of America sponsor. Peter Romero, the State Department’s Latin-American overseer, was giving interviews during the uprising to the effect that severe economic and political sanctions would result from a rupture of the sacred constitutional order. Need I add that constitutional order and democracy are sacred only when they serve the geopolitical interests of the United States government? Otherwise – and there are too many examples to list here – quite expendable.
Three hours into the “rule of the junta” General Mendoza withdrew the support of the armed forces thus ensuring its collapse. I was critical of the inclusion of a General in the ruling group in the first place because it made it vulnerable to the criticism of being a military dictatorship. The armed forces in support of (but not a member of) a popular based governing group, committed to creating new institutions backed up by popular referenda, to me was a viable option.
Of course, neither Mendoza nor the military command ever intended to support a popular regime. The ill-fated junta was a ploy to diffuse the uprising and it worked superbly. Confused and disillusioned on the morning of the 22nd (Saturday), the protesters were easily dislodged from the Congress, Judicial and Presidential buildings. That same morning the Congress met, considered that the presidency had been “abandoned,” and installed the Vice President, Gustavo Noboa as the new” constitutional” president. Noboa lost no time in assuring the continuation of the economic policies of former president Mahuad that had lead to the massive protests in the first place.
Analysis: Although it has been hidden with all the clever rhetoric about the constitutional succession (i.e., the vice-president succeeding the president) which avoids a rupture of the constitutional order, this simply is not the case. Had Mahuad resigned, everything would have been squeaky clean. But he refused thereby forcing the military to depose him. This constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order, and no amount of whitewashing can change that fact. The hypocrisy of the U.S. government and its Quislings, the Ecuadorian political class and the Ecuadorian military, is transparent.
They are willing to gloss over the military’s deposing of a “democratically elected” president who has become a liability – in effect sacrificing him to calm the waters – as long as the replacement is acceptable, i.e., will not really rock the boat.
In 1997, when a two day general strike prompted the military to abandon then President Bucaram, they did not complain (the U.S. only mildly) about this rupture, nor did these same staunch defenders of the constitution cry out against the violation of the order of succession at that time (the then Vice President was a woman, Rosalía Arteaga, so the machista Congress appointed its own leader as the Interim President, who held the fort until Mahuad was elected in 1998).
In short, what matters to the US government and the Ecuadorian political/military class is not the constitution but who has the power. To those of us who supported and support the notion of overthrowing an elected government it is incumbent upon us to demonstrate (and that is not so difficult to do here given the level of blatancy) the utter corruptness of the so-called democratic process. In a country where there is a pathetically incompetent public education system (good private schools, though, for the elites), a totally inadequate public health system, and massive poverty, “democratic” institutions in the context of capitalist exploitation are largely a farce. Because there are virtually no checks and balances, members of the government administration (from the president on down), Congress and the judiciary are virtually free to loot the public purse. The judiciary is almost entirely politicized, judges are appointed by the ruling political party, and the major parties make deals with one another to convict and un-convict as power changes hands (one example, to gain the support in Congress of Bucaram for the economic package, Mahuad clearly had to promise PRE – Bucaram’s party – that the legal way would be cleared for Bucaram to return from his “exile” in Panama — his third exile, by the way).
As well the extremes that the Ecuadorian “democracy” will go to achieve its ends extend all the way to murder. Last year, a popular leftist Congressman was shot to death within a few blocks of the Congress. The crime remains unsolved. It should also be pointed out that Ecuador’s military elites, as just about in all of Latin America, save Cuba, are trained and indoctrinated in the infamous School of the Americas, which used to be in Panama but has moved to North Carolina. President Monroe is no doubt smiling in his grave.
This ends the current chapter but not the story. Nothing of substance has changed at the government level that will affect the levels of corruption, unemployment, inflation and poverty which cannot be ignored. Although the opposition lacks cohesion and a unified philosophy, protests are continuing across the country. The Indigenous leaders are saying that they will give the new government one month to show its colors before considering another serious uprising.