Ecuador and Toribio: it won’t be easy, but…

Someone whose presence is missed on this blog noted that the Fertl article from Green Left Weekly is some good context on Ecuador. The latest on Ecuador from IPS: the new boss, Alfredo Palacio, says he’s planning to complete the term of Lucio Gutierrez, even though the protesters demand that he hold elections in 4 months. He plans to build a government of national unity that will govern until January 2007. Palacios is also going to keep the FTA negotiations with the US on track. And keep Ecuador a military base for the US. Meet the new boss, etc.

On Toribio. I am still working on the many reports coming in. Colombia Indymedia is a good source and ACIN’s own website, if you can read Spanish (ACIN is linked on the right). But what is important to know, most important, is that the people of Toribio have demands: In the short term, they want all the armed actors out and the demilitarization of their region. In the long term, they want a negotiated solution to the conflict. To that end they are holding a forum tomorrow (Friday April 22) in the main city of Northern Cauca, Santander de Quilichao. Right in the middle of it all. It’s just another example of their humbling resolve and resilience. Years ago, my friend Arquimedes Vitonas (who is currently the mayor of Toribio but wasn’t at the time) told me that “To us, the idea of accompaniment is sacred — being with someone or being there for someone on a personal level but also on a community or political level.”

Well, I’d want them to know that they are accompanied now. If there’s a lot of accompaniment it could make a difference at this crucial time. More soon.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

3 thoughts on “Ecuador and Toribio: it won’t be easy, but…”

  1. I am currently travelling in
    I am currently travelling in Colombia and have just left the Cauca region. It is obviously very unsafe there at the moment. The anxiety is evident on the face of every soldier currently lining every fifty metres of the highway between Popayan and Cali. The situation is obviously getting very serious. Justin, I think the best way to “accompany” the movement in Cauca is to do exactly what you are doing, telling their story.

    Anyway, I have just finished reading Hector Mondragon’s article and can’t help but speculate that Uribe’s current attack is a strategic move to “dismantle by displacement” the obviously vibrant indigenous social movement in Cauca.

    Although not a generally well-informed bunch, travellers do, however, tend to know where to travel and where not to travel, through word-of-mouth reports.

    If we “gringos” know where Farc is, the Colombian military must also. Any attack on the guerrilla is only a matter of political convenience.

    Therefore, I think the timing of the confrontation with the Farc, relatively shortly after cauqueños in Toribio voted by 98% against the FTA, is quite convenient for a government at war with social movements. It just demonstrates what this war is really about.

  2. Hey all,
    Fertl’s article on

    Hey all,

    Fertl’s article on Ecuador gives some good context, but I’d also suggest that people read the following article by Jesus A. Rivas of ( Rivas, who was both in Caracas in April 2002 and in Quito in April 2005, draws some interesting comparisons and contrasts between the two situations.

    While it seemed initially that Palacios may have been playing to the popular agenda, provoking fears in some markets as a result (see:, today his government received the seal of approval from the US government and the EU.

    Notably, Palacio vowed today to observe ALL of Ecuador’s current obligations to the ‘international community’ and explicitly included the US military presence in Manta within the ambit of those comments (the statements can be viewed on the Reuters Video website, although I’m not able to copy the URL for some reason). As Rivas also notes, the new government has also stayed the course on Free Trade negotiations with the USA.

    Some social sectors and movements have seen the recent uprising as a move by the Guayaquil based Social Christian Party (PSC) – that ruled Ecuador with an iron fist in the 1980s (an era viewed by many activists as the worst in the country’s recent history in terms of human-rights and neoliberal austerity under the deceptive slogan of ‘pan y techo’) – to seize power and re-establish its hegemony.

    Mobilizations in the country are still continuing although there seem to be some serious splits between the different social movements on what the next steps should be and the proper attitude to take with respect to the new government. It’s pretty hard to get a picture of what’s going on from the outside so if people have closer contacts on the ground it’d be great to hear from them.

    There is not only the split between the elites – that is to say the split between the more institutional parties (like the PSC and Izquierda Democratica on one side) and the populist parties on the other (Gutierez’s and Baccaram’s electoral vehicles as well as Noboa’s PRIAN), which are reflected not only in parliament but in the divisions among some on the streets – but also there exist splits within social movements and grassroots community based organizations not represented in the formal institutions of the Ecuadorian state and not tied to either wing of the country’s elite.

    I’m curious to know more about the positions being taken by the various indigenous movements in the country (Pachakutik, ECUARUNARI, CONAIE, FENOCIN, Shinallatak, etc.) and the various left formations (including anarchist, Marxist-Leninist, Trotskyist and other formations). If any readers of this blog are more familiar with that dynamic I’d really like to hear your analysis.

    I’ve tried to look at the websites of many of the social movements/grassroots parties I’m familiar with, but found little in terms of analysis(other than among the PCMLE/MPD crowd, which seem to be concerned with criticism of their decision to vote on the dismissal of the Supreme Court and a few articles on the ECUARUNARI site, celebrating Gutierez’s ouster).

    Maybe someone closer to these movements and the popular currents throughout the country could give a brief run-down of what activists in any or all of those circles are saying these days? What’s the mood among the people? What are people in the popular sectors saying? What’s the situation outside of the major urban centres of Guayaquil and Quito like?


  3. Kole, my own contacts, while
    Kole, my own contacts, while not especially close, suggest that it was indigenous force and the indigenous movement that brought Lucio down – as they have been threatening to, and had the capacity to do, for years. Indeed, Latin American leftists have been predicting this for a year and a half – Stedile predicted it when he was in Toronto in 2003, I heard it repeatedly when I was in Colombia in 2004. Indeed what I heard then was this – the movement can overthrow Gutierrez any time it wants, but what then? The alternative to put it in its place is not ready. I’ll take a look at the piece you suggest, but your presentation of it sounds uncompelling. The parallels that exist are extremely superficial, as were those between Bolivia’s ouster of the gringo and the Venezuela coup in 2002.

Comments are closed.