On the Popular Rebellion in Ecuador

This article is an unofficial translation from Frente de Defensa de las Luchas del Pueblo del Ecuador.

By Javier De Paz

The proletariat and people of Ecuador recognize and value all the signs of solidarity issued by the international proletariat and oppressed peoples of the world to the struggles undertaken by the Ecuadorian people against imperialism, the IMF, and the repressive comprador regime of Lenin Moreno. Comrades from Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Galicia, Germany, France, among others, sent their notes of support to this important rebellion of the masses.

We’ve just witnessed some of the most combative and violent days of struggle that have taken place in the country in the last 50 years.

The Moreno regime, faithful to the IMF mandates, issued a series of measures that threatened workers by eliminating labor regulations, decreasing wages, and one in particular, decree 883, that increased fuel prices; a measure that exacerbated the mood of the masses that turned into an open and violent fight for repeal.

Contrary to the mechanisms of misinformation that Moreno’s regime set up with the bourgeois landowner press, this struggle was not undertaken solely by the indigenous movement. It began with a transit strike and the support of the masses who decidedly fought against repression. After the concession of the transit workers, the popular struggle became a true rebellion that progressively stoked to turn the countryside, major roadways, and surrounding cities into true war scenes.

Before the effervescence of the masses throughout the country, the indigenous movement was incorporated into the siege of the cities, and actions were enhanced, unleashing a combative struggle that determines the taking of strategic sectors of the economy: road axis, oil extraction wells, neutralization of large companies exporting flowers, viaducts cell phones, televisions, etc. In particular, in the city of Quito, the struggle aims to violently take the most emblematic buildings of the bourgeois-landowner democracy: the Assembly and the Carondelet Palace.

There is no certain death toll on the side of the masses but it is estimated that there may have been up to 12 victims. According to official sources, there have been over 1500 injured, 7 of which had irreparable eye injuries (after police aimed their weapons directly at the heads of protesters and fired non-lethal ammunition); over 1300 arrested, 26 police stations destroyed, and 2 armored vehicles burned. The reactionary forces did not have a single fatal casualty but well over 400 police officers were injured.

Throughout the country, the masses violently took over 6 districts, those of El Cañar and Chimborazo having the most impact by the quality of the action.

The building of the State Comptroller General burned down. Contrary to what the government maintains that this action was carried out by hordes of brokers to destroy evidence, it was actually a mass action, the objective being that it was a more vulnerable location since the repressive forces did not want to give it the same security coverage as the Assembly which is only 50 meters away from it.

After the events of October 12, the most combative day of struggle, an agreement was reached between Moreno’s regime and a delegation of the indigenous movement on October 13.

In an attempt to save face, it was necessary for the presence of a clearly kind and compliant UN delegate of the Moreno regime and a representative of the Episcopal Conference to mediate the dialogue. The results are public knowledge. Moreno retracted the measures and repealed decree 883, ending the popular uprising.

However, it is important to point out some relevant aspects of this whole process.

  • Throughout the development of the popular rebellion there was massive participation of the masses. Peasants, students, workers from different sectors, and indigenous people participated combatively. The role of the indigenous movement was supplementary, the greatest quota of struggle was put forth by the peasantry and workers who had the support of revolutionary combatants in their decisive actions.
  • There was no single political direction throughout the whole process. It must be admitted, and certain progressive and serious organizations, like the People’s Defense Front and all of its organizations, recognize that the masses overflowed all kinds of political leadership. Unions remain in the hands of revisionism. However, important actions of the rebellion in Imbabura, Nap, Chimborazo, and Pichincha, had correct political and ideological direction to such an extent that it was precisely in La Esperanza, Imbabura, where the masses under proletarian leadership fought with more determination and courage against enemy troops compared to the rest of the country. Not different in Quito, where mass actions linked to severe war actions were under the direction of communists.
  • The national strike on October 9 called by trade union and popular organizations folded the mobilization without establishing a turning point in the correlation of forces because of their conditioning by the government and the repressive apparatus of the state to limit the mobilization into a peaceful act with little to no belligerence. This meant that the final objective of taking over the Plaza de la Independencia was relegated to the Plaza de Santo Domingo, undermining or constraining the popular offensive that fought for the capture of the presidential palace.
  • October 10 was another very combative and notable day as groups of popular combatants used urban guerrilla fighting tactics and strategies. They managed to hit hard blows to the reactionary forces in the city of Quito, causing them the greatest number of wounded. On this occasion, the rebellion expresses the class struggle in a more meaningful way that allowed the tension of the people’s fighting capacity under military occupation. Meanwhile, the peasant masses managed to close the main roads of the city, isolate the capital of the country, and significantly restricted the supply of food and fuel to cities such as Guayaquil and Cuenca.
  • Important groups of indigenous people who were gradually arriving in Quito from the north, south, and east of the country, joined the demonstrations and focused their actions in the areas of the Assembly, leaving the concentration of students, workers, and other masses to attempt to bend the fortifications of police and military in the city center.
  • The contribution of the natives to this rebellion was of utmost importance. However, it should be noted that although it is true that at certain times they fought firmly and with true revolutionary spirit (especially the youth who did not comply with the willingness to conduct peaceful demonstrations by their leaders), they also had within their ranks protesters and leaders who stopped and sometimes neutralized those who did not belong to their groups and those who used revolutionary violence as a form of struggle. In fact, some indigenous people were actively stopping popular forces from attacking a member of the reactionary press.
  • The accusation of being “infiltrators” made real divisions among young people, popular fighters, trade unionists, and the general masses who wanted to stir up the rebellion decisively and violently.
  • The presence of indigenous protesters was used by the Moreno regime to isolate the poor peasantry, the workers, the members of combative unions, and conscientious students, eliminating the relative proletarian leadership that the current struggle had. Not only that, the regime applied a counter information strategy that managed to stigmatize the movements and popular organizations in the struggle that did not belong to CONAIE and other indigenous organizations as “correístas” (agents of former President Rafael Correa), gang members, and vandals.
  • Already at the negotiating table, the indigenous leaders had another weakness: they let themselves be dragged into a negotiation that, although repealed decree 883, which basically compromised the rise of fuels, left other types of anti-popular and reactionary measures intact, such as the reform of the Labor Code, ignoring labor regulations, reduction of salaries, and mass layoffs.
  • A warning by the Communist Party of Ecuador – Red Sun materialized. On October 11, Yacu Pérez, top leader of the Equarunari, an organization that folded the mobilizations, took advantage of the great rebellious stage to launch his promotional video as a presidential candidate in the next elections. Not unlike the emblematic leaders of the indigenous people who, after October 13, repeatedly sustained the need to give electoral prominence in 2021 to their political party Pachakutik (a political party that claims to not be “left or right,” and whose historical leaders, such as Lourdes Tibán were moved as a binomial to the candidacy of Lasso and Enrique Ayala, the revisionist leaders of the PSE (Socialist Party of Ecuador). Other leaders such as Auki Tituaña, have maintained agreements with Nebot, Gutierrez and the most reactionary sectors of the country). The petty bourgeois reformism enters the electoral maelstrom using dead combatants as political reform.

In short, the decree that raised the price of fuels was repealed, and between the indigenous leadership, the Moreno regime, the UN representative, and the Catholic Church, they are drafting a new decree that is supposed to focus the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy to the wealthiest sectors of the country. The results of that decree are still to be seen because neither the UN, much less the church, will guarantee the rights of the people.

On the other hand, in order to collect outstanding debts that the comprador bourgeoisie has with the bureaucratic bourgeoisie exposed in the correlate, the regime undertook a “witch-hunt,” arresting every leader or former leader of the “citizen revolution” and imprisoning them on the pretext of having incited violence, organized strikes, attacking national security, rebellion, terrorism, and illicit associations. That is to say, the inter-bourgeois contradictions are maintained and have used, in one way or another, the popular rebellion as a way to try and resolve them.

The correlate apparently has been beaten to death, and that’s fine because they also wanted to fish in “troubled waters” during the popular rebellion. The Correa regime and all the measures it took against the popular organizations and mobilizations, the criminalization of the people’s organizations, the reform of the Criminal Code by the COIP and the penalties imposed on the people’s struggle drawn in rebellion, illicit association, terrorism, among others, now they return to them like a boomerang. Their measures and laws that underpinned the corporatization of society today which hangs over their head like the sword of Damocles that is preparing to liquidate them definitively.

An unexplored topic are the statements made by former Secretary General of the Socialist Party of Ecuador, Enrique Ayala, who pointed out the need for the regime to not negotiate with the indigenous people and sustain itself with economic measures in defense of bourgeois-landowner democracy and Moreno’s permanence in government. Such misery!

The balance of the regime is that it did not lose, that although decree 883 was repealed, the “democracy” was saved, a coup d’état orchestrated by Correa’s hosts was neutralized. And to a large extent, he is right, he did not lose, because he is still tied to the letter of intent with the IMF; because anti-worker, anti-popular and pro-imperialist economic measures remain latent. It still retains Minister Romo and Jarrín as the most fascist nerve inside the repressive apparatus.

Moreno also showed that he was satisfied with the actions of the police, a true repressive and murderous mob that showed its true anti-masses face and is always ready to defend the old democratic order at any cost. He was critical of the Armed Forces, from whom he expects, he said, know how to assume more radical positions without regard to those who threaten the safety of the citizens. Moreno ended up unleashing a greater fascist reaction from the repressive apparatus of the state, particularly the army, hence he dismissed the commander of the armed forces and the army to be replaced by individuals with more repressive tendencies.

We would not like to say that it has been a costless victory of the masses that was obtained on October 13, however, the tasks and demands of the proletariat, peasantry, and other exploited masses of the country are still pending. Decree 883 was repealed and yet we did not gain much. On the contrary, the enemies of the people, opportunism, petty-bourgeois natives, and certain sectors of revisionism have emerged or been strengthened.

In any case, the correct ideological line, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Gonzalo Thought has been invigorated in the face of struggle. This not only activated and deployed the struggle of alienated unions with the historical requirements of the working class to be the ideological guide, the fundamental class in the revolt, it was within the limitations of its quantitative development and in places where class awareness level has been raised and enhanced with MLM-GT. In fact, the poor peasantry became the main force that generated the objective conditions for the siege of the cities and that is reflected in the neutralization of 1228 closed roads (as claimed by the regime) and all that it represents. It complies with the figure of being the main force which strangles the near cities from the countryside. Nothing, absolutely nothing could have been advanced in this struggle without the participation of the peasantry.

We have much to do. The lessons are multiple. The sole condition of indigenous participation does not guarantee to be on the side of the proletariat. The only condition is to truly support the revolutionary transformation of the country.

We have much to do and we are doing it. We will prepare a new day of struggle raised from the labor movement on October 30 to strike a new blow to Moreno; fight because the labor code reforms have not materialized, fight because work is not regulated.

There is much to do, especially to understand that this type of struggle, although it is true it pays for the necessary experience and accumulated struggles for the class and the people, they do not stop enrolling in a democratic context that basically concerns the class the holds power: the big bourgeois and big landowners. New Democracy is another, different one, that has a revolutionary base, sustained by the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, and consequently, we must fight to destroy the old power.

There is much to do, we must consolidate the ideological and political vanguard within the trade union movement, better establish a worker-peasant alliance, but most importantly, MUST BE MORE FIRM IN THE FIGHT AGAINST REVISIONISM AND OPPORTUNISM. The facts endorse it and history says so, REVISIONISM IS THE MAIN DANGER FOR THE REVOLUTION!

Once again, a red combative salute to the international proletariat that manifested itself and carried out actions of solidarity with the proletariat of Ecuador in this moment of revolutionary tension.