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Dissatisfied Protesters in Ecuador Fear President is Turning Towards Dictatorship

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Issue: 26 Section: International News Geography: Latin America Ecuador Topics: social movements

February 28, 2005

Dissatisfied Protesters in Ecuador Fear President is Turning Towards Dictatorship

Protests on January 26th and February 16th brought thousands of Ecuadorians to the streets of the capital Quito to express their dissatisfaction with government policies and to call for the resignation of President Lucio Gutierrez.

Two years ago, Gutierrez came to power on a promise to transfer power and wealth from Ecuador's "corrupt oligarchy" to the country's poor masses. Many compared his populist rhetoric to that of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, yet as Duroyan Furtl of Green Left Weekly has pointed out, his actions in office have differed greatly from those of the Venezuelan president.

Unlike Chavez, Gutierrez has pursued American-friendly policies, such as support for the US Plan Colombia and the Iraq war, and he has recently received praise from IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato for his government's economic austerity policies.

There is now a fear that Gutierrez is taking measures that are steering the country towards dictatorial rule. A December decision by the Ecuadorian Congress to follow through with a Gutierrez request to fire 27 of Ecuador's 31 Supreme Court judges was seen as a heavy handed tactic to punish judges that attempted to impeach the President for misuse of public funds.

The Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission of Human Rights Leandro Despouy called the action a "grave interference by the executive and legislative into the judicial sphere and hence a violation of the independence of the judiciary."

» Reuters: Thousands protest against Ecuador's president

» Znet: Ecuador: Gutierrez Under Threat

» UN News Centre: Concerned for juridical independence in Ecuador, UN legal expert seeks early visit

» IMF: IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato's Statement at the Conclusion of his Visit to Ecuador

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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