Saturday, April 23, 2005

Events in Ecuador

Even as someone who thinks he was following recent Ecuadorian politics (my girlfriend came from there), the departure of President Lucio Gutierrez came as a suprise.

Perhaps a suprise because we (outside the country) got such bad (and repetitive) repporting. Even in the age if internet, sometimes even the most basic bits of information can't be sucked from google news: After Guitierrez back-tracked on the Supreme Court issue, what did these marchers want? Are they from the left or right? Was the Constituion violated in his removal?

We do know the OAS has not legitimized the new leader - the ex Vice-President Alfredo Palacio. We know Guitierrez is holed up in the Brzillian Embassy seeking exile, while people in the streets are demanding he stay. Why not stay and assist in the strengthening of the rule of law (after the Supreme Court matter gets straightended out - that was a difficult problem that Guitierrez probably did not handle well. In fact I'm not sure he handled much well. As Castro said the fall "was forseeable."

But the Constitutional issues should not be skirted by anyone, including the United States, who call for an immediate (non-Constitutional) election. The 62 votes to strip the Presidency were obstencibly for the death of 2 people in the protests (the one I know of was 60 and died of a heart attack), as well as the Supreme Court move. But he had already relinquished control on that issue to the Congress. I would fight for Guitierrez's right to return if he cared enough to fight when push came to shove. He seems happy to go to Brazil.

Palacio seems to be to the left of Guitierrez, for Guitierrez's other sins were in in his dealing with the IMF and social welfare issues. For this reason the entire political class seems also to be on alert and the situation is volitile. We will wait to see.


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