WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE ON THE AMERICAS
ISSUE #529, MARCH 19, 2000
NEW PROTESTS PICK UP STEAM IN ECUADOR
Dozens of people took part in a "march of empty pots against
hunger and dollarization" on Mar. 15 in Quito, called by
Ecuadoran unions grouped in the Patriotic Front (FP).
Participants marched banging on pots and pans, and set up a soup kitchen
for hungry people in the capital's main plaza to draw attention to the
effects of the government's neoliberal economic policies. FP president Luis
Villacis warned that the march was only the beginning of a series of
protests against such policies, especially the plan to replace Ecuador's
currency with the US dollar. Villacis said that a "grassroots uprising"
will begin on Mar. 21, followed by neighborhood protests against service
rate hikes on Mar. 23, demonstrations by teachers on Mar. 30, and a
national general strike and other protests on as-yet undetermined dates in
April. [Hoy (NY) 3/16/00 from EFE; El Telegrafo (Guayaquil) 3/16/00; La
Hora (Quito) 3/16/00]
The Mar. 21 uprising is being organized by the Confederation of Indigenous
Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and the Coordinating Committee of Social
Movements (CMS). [ET 3/16/00] CONAIE indicated on Mar. 16 that it is about
to break off its fragile dialogue with the government. Salvador Quishpe,
president of Ecuarunari, one of the main member groups in CONAIE, said that
one million signatures have already been collected on a petition that would
force a referendum on the dollarization. [CNN en Espanol 3/16/00 with info
The petition--sponsored by the National Parliament of Ecuadoran People,
which includes CONAIE, CMS and other sectors--also deals with questions
concerning an amnesty for military personnel who supported an indigenous
uprising in January [see Update #521]; new elections for Congress and the
replacement of Supreme Court judges; the unfreezing of bank accounts;
nonpayment of the foreign debt; a ban on privatizations in key sectors; and
on foreign military bases, among other issues. [Copy of petition]
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Enlighten your in-box. http://www.topica.com/t/15