Ecuador at the Threshold of a Referendum Amid Crises

Ecuador at the Threshold of a Referendum Amid Crises
Fecha de publicación: 
21 April 2024
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Just 24 hours left of Saturday for Ecuador to go to the polls for a popular consultation and referendum amid a new state of emergency due to the energy crisis, insecurity and the diplomatic conflict with Mexico.

Blackouts have been the protagonists of the week that just ended. On Saturday, on the verge of the consultative process, the Government announced that the outages will decrease and that on Sunday voting day, there will be no blackouts.

The energy crisis led President Daniel Noboa to charge 22 officials of the sector with sabotage, including the former Minister Andrea Arrobo, as Noboa thought such accusation would harm her in the consultation, a key procedure for the political future of the president.

The Communication Secretary of the Presidency Roberto Izurieta asserted in an interview that “the floodgates were opened” and “they let the water flow” from the Mazar reservoir, one of the largest and foremost in the country, something that according to several experts is technically impossible.

In that context of lack of electricity generation, which causes losses of around USD$ 20 million to the productive sector, Noboa decided to call off the working day on Thursday and Friday, although many private sector companies did not take advantage of the measure.

Finally, on Friday, Noboa decreed a new state of exception that will last 60 days; thus, he ordered the military to guard the hydroelectric power plants, a measure that is aligned with his theory of sabotage.

Despite stating internal armed conflict, which allows the presence of the Armed Forces in the streets and prisons, insecurity has also marked these days in Ecuador.

On Tuesday, Jose Sanchez, from the municipality Camilo Ponce, province of Azuay, was murdered, and on Friday Jorge Maldonado, from the canton Portovelo, El Oro province, two incidents in three days, evidencing the political violence in the country.

Likewise, the Government was condemned this week by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for invading the Mexican Embassy in Quito to arrest former Vice President Jorge Glas, who was there as an asylum seeker and is now on hunger strike in a maximum security prison.

In response, Venezuela closed its consulates in Ecuador; and Honduras called its chargé d’affaires for consultations, while the International Court of Justice set for April 30 and May 1 the hearings to listen to the sides after Mexico’s complaint for the assault on its diplomatic headquarters.

The aforementioned happens at the threshold of the popular consultation in which the young president is gambling his political future, with which he intends to measure his real possibilities for his eventual re-election in 2025.

Most of the questions are about security, but Noboa tries to promote changes that threaten domestic sovereignty, with international arbitration, and labor precariousness, with work for hours, social and political movements affirm that are opposed to the consultation.

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