Under the banner "the government lies, the budget cut remains" students from public and private universities gathered in Ecuador's Central University to march towards the National Assembly, demanding modification to the 2019 budget, which includes a US$145 million cut to higher education.
"Today we are marching from the Central University to the National Assembly to demand that legislators present observations to the 2019 budget sent by the executive. Tomorrow is the last day for the Assembly to present observations to the budget, after that, if there are no modifications, the budget would pass as it was submitted," Gabriel Otero, a law student at the Central University and student organizer told teleSUR.
After students protested on Nov. 19, President Lenin Moreno met with university directors and announced he would reverse the proposed budget cut. However, student leaders argue the reversal was no longer up to Moreno because the budget had already been presented to the Assembly.
After the executive branch submitted the 2019 budget proposal to the National Assembly, it was no longer capable of amending it. Any change, including a reversal in budget cuts for higher education, will only be possible if the Assembly presents observations to the budget.
If the Assembly approves observations to the budget, the executive branch will have 10 days to shuffle numbers and re-allocate the US$145 million to higher education.
Protests are not the only actions students are taking. "A groups of students, professor and citizens presented precautionary measures against the budget due to its possible infringement on the right to education," Otero said.
"We are saying to the Assembly, if you approve this you are infringing rights. They must see how to avoid this," he said.
He also warned that the student movement will take this case to the Constitutional Court if the Assembly approves the budget without modifications.