Less than a week after opposition mobilizations turned violent, Ecuador’s opposition labor unions announced that the march they started Wednesday afternoon in the capital could turn into a “real” general strike, paralyzing the country’s economy, if the government does not give up its proposal of constitutional amendments.
The announcement comes after opposition groups called for a strike that, according to the government, was only able to mobilize several thousand protesters.
The march will be converted into a national general strike “if President Rafael Correa do not order to close the file on the constitutional amendments,” President of the United Front of Workers (FUT) Pablo Serrano told El Comercio. The union also warned the government on Tuesday that it will participate in negotiations until Labor Minister Carlos Marx Carrasco resigns.
The march started outside the facilities of the Institute of Social Security in the capital Quito.
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Correa characterized the violent mobilizations last Thursday, aimed at destabilizing his government, as “a failure,” inviting the opposition to remain peaceful and to use democratic mechanisms to question his policies. The opposition leaders claimed the violence was due to infiltrators, and that they blocked the roads to provoke a work stoppage in a peaceful way, although video and photo evidence suggests otherwise, depicting opposition leaders charging at police with a metal barricade.
The Congress is expected to vote on a package of 16 amendments to the 2008 Constitution in December, including the proposed amendment of presidential term limits. Looking forward to the 2017 presidential election, analysts say that opposition sectors hope that the governing coalition Alianza Pais will not be able to find a candidate to replace Correa.
The people of Saraguro, in the Southern state of Loja, also remained mobilized against the government, protesting against a court order on Tuesday to give 30 days of preventive detention to 26 people who were arrested last week in violent confrontations with the police.
Meanwhile in the Southeastern province of Morona Santiago, a group of Indigenous Achuar people have protested for the third consecutive day in front of the the governor’s building, responding to the call by the opposition-aligned indigenous confederation CONAIE.
The Indigenous group’s main complaint regards the federal decision to suspend the environmental license, preventing the province from continuing the work on the Taisha road.
Earlier in June, the Ministry of Environment imposed sanctions against the provincial government of Morona Santiago, revoking its environmental license and imposing a US$70,800 fine over environmental damages caused during the Macuma-Taisha road project.