Friday, January 25, 2008

Ecuador: Massive rally marks Correa's first anniversary

On January 19, 100,000 people marched in Ecuador's largest city, Guayaquil, to celebrate the one year anniversary of Rafael Correa's presidency and his "citizen's revolution".

Correa, a self-declared socialist and close ally of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, was inaugurated on January 15 last year, promising to revolutionise his society by eliminating poverty and initiating a constituent assembly to rewrite the country's constitution and allow more direct popular participation.

Since then, Correa has increased the average wage, doubled social benefits and begun renegotiating contracts with the multinational oil companies that dominate the country's main industry.

Correa's party, Country Alliance, has a large majority in the assembly, which is due to finish its work mid-year, to be followed by fresh elections.

On January 24, the right-wing Social Christian Party staged a large anti-Correa protest in its stronghold of Guayaquil, headed by Jaime Nebot, the city's popular mayor.

At the start of the year, the national indigenous federation, CONAIE — one of Ecuador's most significant social organisations representing the indigenous people that make up 40% of the population — elected Marlon Santi, a campaigner against the oil industry in the Ecuadorian Amazon, as its president.

While CONAIE are supportive of Correa's social justice rhetoric and policies so far, they remain sceptical and are preparing for a year of struggle to ensure that Correa keeps his word.

 First published in Green Left Weekly, January 25, 2008

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