Reflections on the Constituent Assembly
If there is a textbook example of how neo-liberalism can destroy a country. it is Ecuador. Over the last decade five presidents have attempted to stabilise the economy and ease the restless masses. But the economic crisis just deepens. In January of 2000 the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador and other groups called for a mobilisation of the country’s indigenous population to protest the dollarisation of the economy, the policies of privatisation and other aspects of neo-liberalism. Tens of thousands took to the streets of the capital, Quito, and were joined by many workers and even disgruntled members of the military. The protest became an uprising and the government of Eduardo Mahuad was overthrown and replaced by a three-man revolutionary committee. The popular government lasted a little more than a day but brought to the world stage the gravity of the consequences of the policies imposed by the US and its hit-men in the IMF/World Bank.
Today president Rafael Correa, who defines himself as a socialist, is attempting to continue that revolution by carrying out his campaign promise to celebrate a Constitutional Assembly in order to create a new republic in which the working masses would have more representation and a greater share of the wealth. In last year’s elections Correa easily defeated his opponent, the richest man in the country, but is now encountering resistance by Ecuador’s ruling elite to his project of empowering the masses. But that elite apparently is not aware that the Constituent Assembly may just be the last opportunity for peaceful change that the country’s poor and working people will grant them.
We revolutionaries are clear that the class struggle will be reflected within the Native, Sovereign and Popular Constituent Assembly, where the lackeys of imperialism and the big financial, exporting, industrial and commercial bourgeoisie on the one hand; and the proletariat, the working classes and the exploited, on the other hand will try to make use of a new Political Constitution, starting from completely antagonistic premises.
The representatives of the ruling classes will go to the Assembly under the slogan of perpetuating the status quo, and thus continuing to enjoying the illegal and immoral wealth that they have now. They will defend sacrosanct private property tooth and nail; they will try to continue totally controlling the means of production. On the other hand, we the representatives of the working classes will take up this new challenge understanding that it is part of the social process that Ecuador is experiencing; where the idea of radical, urgent and necessary change is catching on more and more in the hearts and minds of the masses who, although they do not yet see the revolution as the only way out of the crisis, they understand that things are not going well as they are.
The simple fact that in the forums, plazas, markets, streets, buses, etc., there is an awareness of what happens every day on the national scene is a political blow for the bourgeoisie. Precisely popular participation in political life, this increase in the interest of our peoples in this discussion gives us an opportunity of spreading the proposals of the revolutionary left.
We do not blindly believe in the Constituent Assembly, since it will be convoked according to the existing legal norms, whose reason for existence is to guarantee the permanence of the rich in power; but that does not frighten us and again we will contend with the bourgeoisie and all its apparatus of power and corruption.
The Assembly is not everything, the structural problems (poverty, corruption, ignorance, illness, delinquency, alcoholism, migration, violence, discrimination, destruction of the ecosystem) are natural products of the capitalist system that rules in our society; they will continue to exist.
We revolutionaries should be sure of what we can do, acting correctly, to accelerate the process of social and national liberation; therefore it is opportune to reaffirm now the proposals that we have, related to all the spheres of life (economic, social, political, cultural, educational, gender, environmental, etc.) to transform Ecuador.
In effect, Plan A of the bourgeoisie is to play with legalisms, constitutional interpretations, manoeuvres and proposals among all their political parties as they are doing now; but we do not doubt for a moment that Nebot, Gutierrez and Noboa, are willing to set in motion Plan B, which consists in economic destabilisation, boycott of public services, manipulation of various sectors that are close to them and disinformation campaigns, with the aim of creating chaos and blaming this on the changes that are coming. To preserve their power, the ruling classes know no limits; therefore we should be prepared, when the time comes, to confront them in whatever battleground is necessary, leading the peoples of Ecuador in the decisive battles, which will define true social and national emancipation.
February 12, 2007
Translated from the Spanish by George Gruenthal
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