Instead of standing by his austerity policies, President Moreno uses violence and makes a run for it. Unfortunately, this is a tradition in South America.
Ecuadorians protest against Moreno’s austerity policies in the capital Quito Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/reuters
There they are again, the images that make a South American country look like a banana republic: A government doing the opposite of what it promises in the election campaign. Discontent results in mass protests. A president sends in bludgeoning security forces, imposes a curfew, flees the capital – and rambles about a coup attempt with foreign help.
What can currently be observed in Ecuador unfortunately has a long tradition in South America. Like Argentina most recently, the Andean country is feeling the hard break from leftist redistribution to neoliberal austerity policies. Because Ecuador’s President LenIn Moreno wants a billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he has agreed to far-reaching reforms.
And these reforms affect – who else? – especially the poorer indigenous population strata, which Moreno’s predecessor Correa had massively relieved. But now, among other things, subsidies for discounted gasoline are to be eliminated. President Moreno announced this last week, triggering the protests in the first place.
The political opponent is always to blame for the chaos – the pattern is familiar in Latin America.
It is obvious that Ecuadorians do not want to pay for their government’s neoliberal austerity policies. But President Moreno’s evasion of responsibility for the first death and the 70 or so injured by police violence is not. Instead, without batting an eye, he blames his predecessor in office-and his aligned accomplice Venezuela-for the turmoil. Always blaming the political opponent for the chaos, this reflex inevitably leads to a spiral of violence, with ever more violent and bloody protests. See Venezuela or Nicaragua.
It would be better if Moreno stood by his reforms politically and honestly called them what they are: a redistribution policy from the bottom up.