Español Civil-society organizations, labor unions, and indigenous groups will march throughout Ecuador on Thursday, March 19, as a show of unity against the presidency of Rafael Correa.
On Wednesday, March 11, representatives of the United Workers Front (FUT) called a national “day of resistance” against the “onslaught of a homogenizing model,” which they claimed “seeks to eliminate workers’ and social organizations’ rights and achievements” in the country.
The FUT emphasized it would be a peaceful demonstration, not seeking to “overthrow the president” but to fight for their rights and job stability, and reject a new system of onerous tariffs imposed by the government.
Other groups such as the Popular Front, the Retirees Front, the National Union of Teachers (UNE), and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) confirmed their attendance at the demonstrations.
A Common Cause
Despite its beginnings as a protest by leftist and indigenous groups, students, members of the opposition, and ordinary citizens soon took the opportunity to express their anger with Correa’s Citizen Revolution.
Using the hashtags #19M and #RR, social media users listed the reasons why they’re marching on March 19, with the new “safeguards” on 32 percent of the country’s imports generating particular discontent.
— robot ultramoderno (@jotacelira) March 10, 2015
“Such a tremendous tax package they put to us. No one can turn away to this #TaxHoliday #19M”
— David Rosero (@davidroserow) March 9, 2015
“The crisis should be payed by Correa’s newly rich, not by the people! Yet another reason for the national mobilization of #19M #Ecuador.”
Others highlighted alleged government heavy-handedness in the face of dissent, and raised fears over Ecuador becoming “another Venezuela.”
El verdadero milagro ecuatoriano será librarnos de este incapaz, antes de que nos termine de convertir en Venezuela.#19M
— Yo Mandante (@Yo_Mandante) March 14, 2015
“The real Ecuadorian miracle will be to get rid of this incompetent, before he ends up converting us into Venezuela #19M.”
Si crees que es normal que funcionarios respondan a ciudadanos en redes sociales con insultos, calumnias y amenazas, no salgas el #19M
— Diana Amores Moreno ? (@Diana_Amores) March 16, 2015
“If you think it’s normal for officials to respond to citizens with insults, slander, and threats on social networks, don’t go out on #19M.”
Many Twitter users similarly stressed the importance of the march in terms of free speech, democracy, and freedom.
Buenos días Libertad !!
Hoy marcharemos por ti.
— John Town (@JohnTown_) March 19, 2015
“Wake up Ecuador! #19M. Good morning liberty! Today we will march for you.”
Invito a las mentes liberales a salir a la calle (Shyris o arco del Ejido) mañana #19M
Justamente porque debe haber otras voces.
— J. F. Carpio (@jfcarpio) March 19, 2015
“I invite liberal minds to go out tomorrow #19M. Precisely because there must be other voices.”
On Monday, March 16, Correa condemned Thursday’s forthcoming demonstrations during a meeting with representatives of indigenous movements. According to Correa, his administration has a strong record on defending indigenous and workers’ interests.
“It makes no sense that these worker leaders march against the government that’s done the most for the working class,” he said, similarly criticizing the “alleged indigenous leaders” who organized the national mobilization.
National daily El Comercio reported on Wednesday afternoon the arrival of 15 buses in Quito from across the country. The vehicles were ferrying hundreds of Correa’s supporters to the capital, who began a “citizen vigilance” in support of Correa.
About 40 people set up tents and spent the night outside the presidential palace in solidarity with the president. Several argued that Thursday’s march is designed by Correa’s political opponents to generate uncertainty, instigate violence, and ultimately undermine Correa’s government.
In the same vein, government legislator Rodrigo Collahuazo denounced the manifestation as part of “a national and international strategy” aiming to destabilize democratic governments in the region.
Marcela Aguiñaga, director of the ruling PAIS Alliance party in the province of Guayas and Vice President of the Ecuadorian National Assembly, branded the march an “opportunist union” of various sectors of the opposition.
“Basically, what it reflects is that multiple groups are opportunistically joining in the old way of doing politics, and supporting traditional opposition leaders. They’re not looking to defend rights of freedoms,” she argued.
Aguiñaga anticipated that Correa’s supporters would hold mass “mobilizations for the revolution” throughout Guayas province.
The demonstrations are expected to begin at 3 p.m. local time in 14 cities across the country, including Guayaquil, Portoviejo, Ambato, Machala, and Loja.