IMF: Hands off Ecuador
A Solidarity Statement from the International Committee of the DSA ahead of the February 7, 2021, Elections
On February 7, 2021, Ecuador will hold elections for both its president and its national legislative body, with 137 positions to be decided for the National Assembly. Despite attempts by right-wing forces to discount many votes, particularly in the diaspora, the upcoming elections could represent a shift away from the abysmal failures of neoliberalism in Ecuador. Such a shift will be critical to determining the direction of the country, and the continent, as it seeks to overcome the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and a very steep economic recession exacerbated by the pandemic. A recent study has found that a majority of Ecuadorians have fallen into poverty as a result of the twin pandemics: political misleadership and COVID.
A key issue in the election are the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans that the current neoliberal administration of Lenín Moreno negotiated with Western capitalist banks that force austerity on an already beleaguered people. Under the guise of humanitarian help with the raging pandemic, the IMF forced through loans to the tune of $6,500,000,000 just before the close of 2020. As is customary, the IMF stipulates austerity and the government sale of gasoline and diesel domestically at world market prices instead of at a discount. The loan also requires that the management of the Central Bank of Ecuador be removed from government control and the installation of a private governing board. Another loan agreement for up to $3,500,000,000 from the U.S. Development Corporation requires the government to privatize a major oil refinery and parts of the country’s electrical grid, and to exclude China from its telecommunications development.
IMF loans are a classic tactic of neocolonial control and an all too familiar story of economic exploitation of the Global South by capitalist powers. The austerity policies encouraged by the IMF leech money away from crucial social programs thus eroding the standard of living in oppressed nations. IMF loans facilitate the transfer of wealth away from the region and into the pockets of Western capital. It is the rich who benefit and the working class who pay the price.
On the matter of the Ecuadorian election, DSA IC reiterates its commitment to free and fair elections. The memories of the Bolivian coup are fresh in our minds; we must be on alert for possible attempts to delay or manipulate the vote. The establishment’s lawfare efforts to eliminate the most popular left party and its four-year campaign to discredit, repress, imprison, and exile its leaders, including former President Rafael Correa, give ample reason for concern. On December 17, 2020, thirteen members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing, “our profound concern regarding the deteriorating situation of human rights and democracy in the Republic of Ecuador.” Many polls have Andres Arauz, the UNES candidate in the lead. Alarmed at the potential loss of more ground in the continental struggle for power between an independent left-wing anti-imperialist movement and oligarchs beholden to U.S. interests, there are strong reasons to be concerned about potential for the right-wing establishments to resort to illegal election meddling.
The Progressive International and other progressive and left international forces are sending delegations of observers to ensure that the vote and the counting is free, fair, and accurate. We express our solidarity with these international election observers and call upon all to be on guard to secure the democratic process in Ecuador.
Democratic Socialists of America IC expresses solidarity with the workers, peasants, and indigenous communities struggling against the forces of capital. We condemn any coercive tactics by neocolonial countries and their local lackeys to further interfere in the Ecuadorian democratic process. We defend the sovereignty of Ecuador and its independence from predatory loans. We broadly support platforms of the Ecuadorian left in support of the prioritization of social programs over IMF loan payments and support our Ecuadorian comrades in the struggle against austerity and privatization. The fate of the Ecuadorian economy must be in the hands of the Ecuadorian people.