EspañolLegislators from President Rafael Correa’s PAIS Alliance have promoted a series of constitutional “amendments” to eliminate term limits for all publicly elected officials, including the president.
And yet ruling-party legislator Soledad Buendía announced in an interview on August 25 that PAIS Alliance is not seeking to enable the indefinite reelection of the president. Yes, you read that right.
“It is important to note that we are not proposing nor debating indefinite [presidential] reelection.… This constitutional amendment would increase freedom for our citizens,” Buendía said at the start of the interview.
“[The amendments] would eliminate restrictions on elections and on being elected. We aren’t looking for indefinite reelection at all … that is a politically motivated misrepresentation of our goal.”
Adding insult to injury, she argued that the term limits currently enshrined in the Ecuadorian Constitution discriminate against Rafael Correa and the citizens who want to vote for him once again in the upcoming 2017 elections.
Until a few weeks ago, the ruling party’s political discourse was the same tired story, over and over again. The government could not stop talking about the supposed coup organized by the “obstinate right,” the “new Cold War” being waged against progressive leaders in Latin America, and the “offensive inequality” that prevails in our region.
However, Buendía managed to flip the script, and flat out deny reality.
In psychology, denial is defined as a primitive defense mechanism that a person might use in response to moments of adversity, when one simply does not wish to accept facts that contradict certain expectations.
And the fact is, things are going from bad to worse for the Correa administration in Ecuador. Oil prices continue to fall, and the protests that rose up against the president a few months ago have not let up.
The immense popularity Correa enjoyed throughout the majority of his term has ended: about 55 percent of Ecuadorians disapprove of the president, and 50 percent no longer trust him.
The Ecuadorian people do not want indefinite reelection, or at the very least, they do not want it without a vote. Polls show 80 percent of the public wants the matter taken to a referendum. Furthermore, 54 percent of Ecuadorians now disapprove of the National Assembly, where the ruling party holds 100 of the 135 seats.
During her interview, Buendía emphasized the need for liberty and its importance within a democratic system. But what short of liberty was the congresswoman referring to? How does the PAIS Alliance define “liberty” and “democracy?”
The government is clearly distorting these concepts. Democracy has certain fundamental pillars, such as the division of powers, the rule of law, and the alternation of power. This isn’t a matter of “left” or “right,” nor is it some “bourgeoisie theory,” as President Correa recently called it. It’s worth noting that Correa himself referred to reelection as “absurd” as recently as 2013.
History has already shown that if power is not limited, there is nothing to prevent a ruler from becoming a tyrant. Latin America has plenty of examples of regional politicians looking to perpetuate their grips on power.
The “liberty” Buendía speaks of, removing term limits, only benefits the PAIS Alliance. It’s a notorious word game the proponents of the Citizen Revolution like to play: legislators use so-called discrimination to justify reforms to the Constitution that would exclusively favor President Correa.
This new “liberty” would therefore allow Correa to continue his reign over the country. This for a man who has already been in power for eight years, taken control of all branches of government, harassed the media and opposition journalists, and manipulated the judicial system to serve his will.
Buendía must know that this isn’t freedom, nor is is democratic. Indefinite reelection in Ecuador would mean the destruction of an already weakened institutional framework, paving the way for an all-out dictatorship.
Fortunately, despite their euphemisms and changing of rules as they go along, this “revolution” is nearing its end.
In 2017, Ecuadorians must choose a new path that will allow the country to move forward with real freedom, and abandon this socialist model that has brought so much damage to our country.
When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” — Thomas Jefferson