by Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog
Ecuador, the fight against IMF austerity measures is far from over. Just a few hours after my article was published on Sunday, 13 October, Ecuador – and the IMF’s Killing Spree – https://www.globalresearch.ca/, President Lenin Moreno declared the infamous Decree 883 as canceled, i.e. the astronomical price increases for fuel were reversed, the (police) state of emergency and curfew were called off. He wanted to put an end to the 11 days of police and military violence-induced protests that beset mainly Quito.
The police, supported by the army carried out repression during the protests, like they have not been seen in Ecuador’s recent history, claiming at least 7 death, about 1,340 injured and more than 1,100 arrested. The streets of Quito were an absolute chaos; destruction, fire, tear gas, smoke.
Other austerity measures included, shrinking government spending, laying off 23,000 state employees, privatization of social services and infrastructure – and more – all linked to the IMF loan of US$ 4.2 billion, were also “canceled”. At least, so it looked and sounded at the outset.
This apparent victory was achieved largely thanks to the indigenous movement, the Conaie (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) – an umbrella organization of indigenous groups across Ecuador. They have relentlessly fought for their rights and against the ferocious abrogation of all the social benefits they acquired – finally – during the years of Rafael Correa’s socialist government – which served, and still serves, an example for much of Latin America.
Not the indigenous groups, or anybody else of the Ecuadorian people – were consulted about the IMF loan. The basic IMF deal was already brokered in January 2019, when Lenin Moreno met Madame Lagarde, at that time still head of the IMF at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. There were just some “minor issues” that Moreno had to resolve before he could sign this horrendous debt onto Ecuador’s books.
One of the “issues” was a request by the US via its extended arm, the IMF – to expel Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, to bring him closer to extradition to the US, where he may face the death penalty, or Guantanamo, for having said and published the truth about the atrocious war crimes committed by the United States. And neo-Nazi, Moreno, complied.
Just a few days after British police dragged Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the 4.2-billion-dollar loan / debt deal was signed. No coincidence. Assange was holed-up by self-imposed asylum, for almost seven years, for justified fear of being “renditioned” to the US or another torturing US ally.
Now, when all the austerity measures were to be cancelled, by nullifying Decree 883, why did Moreno assemble a team of advisers to work out a new decree? Who are the advisers? People from the IMF, from the US Treasury – or simply “Fifth Columnists”, trained and funded earlier by NED (National Endowment for Democracy)? – Why isn’t the decree and with it all IMF-imposed austerity measures simply canceled? Full stop?
In any case, Sunday night, Conaie reported that a commission was set up to “draft the decree that replaces it 883 – that this does not end until the agreement is fully implemented”.
Who is part of this commission and what will be the conditions of the new decree, is not known, so far. However, Conaie may want to include in the new decree that the entire IMF loan of US$ 4.2 billion should be cancelled. Because if it is not, the IMF will not let go, will come back in one form or another form to grab Ecuador’s resources. That is the US doctrine, never depart from a goal – and it is extended through the IMF – which converts its financial handle on a country into modern warfare – stealing accumulated social capital and natural resources by strictly enforced austerity programs – causing famine, disease, desperation, and death. See recentz examples, Greece, Ukraine, Argentina.
And what will happen to the protest leaders? The front men and women of a revolution that shook the country for eleven days? Many of the leaders, and others, are incarcerated as political prisoners and should be let free.
A new decree to replace the old one, Decree 883, smells very much like a rat; like a new deception is being prepared and the apparent “victory” is just a make-believe for the moment – to reinstate order in Quito and the country. Instead of crushing Ecuadorians with a bulldozer, i.e. the Decree 883 that attempted to shove all the IMF austerity measures down the throat of the Ecuadorians at once, it may come piecemeal, little by little, so the immediate impact will be less noticeable and eventually the sour bites are sliding better down the throat – so Moreno may expect. This would not be the first time that a Government weasels its way out of protests: Stop the “killer measures” for now, and reintroduce them later, slowly in a different format.
Conaie’s leaders are concerned about this. They have said so. They would like to know what the new decree contains, and want to have a say in its drafting, before they definitely call off their protests. – What they really want, is the resignation of Lenin Moreno. That’s what they should aim for, because this man has already proven several times in only two years of presidency that he is a liar, cannot be trusted, and sells the people and their natural resources for the benefit of a small Ecuadorian elite and their foreign partners corporations. Even if he were to cave in now, he will come back, if allowed to stay in power, to neoliberalize the country. That’s his compact. That’s the premise under which he has been made president.
And, what nobody talked about, nor have I seen any reports in either mainstream or progressive news – what will happen with the US$ 4.2 billion IMF loan? – Why is it not cancelled? Ecuador doesn’t need it. With a debt – GDP ratio of 40%, there is definitely no need whatsoever to call for the IMF’s “help”. As proportion of GDP, Ecuador’s debt is only two thirds of that of Germany.
Instead of foreign loans, Ecuador’s Government could call in the outstanding debt of about US$ 4.5 billion from fines, interest and other overdue feefrom corporations and Ecuadorian oligarchs – so they could recapitalize their treasury with own, interest free money. But instead, Moreno “forgave” the debt of the oligarchs, when contracting the IMF loan. That in itself is telling a lot. President Moreno used to be Correa’s Vice President, run on the same Platform, the center-left PAIS Alliance, turned tables less than a year into his presidency and betrayed his compatriots miserably.
Canceling an IMF loan is relatively easy. There is no law that would prevent Ecuador from withdrawing from the IMF deal, at no penalty. This has happened many times before. You need the courage and the right politicians with the right mentality – a people’s friendly attitude – and the country would be rid of this debt and rid of the dictate of the IMF.
Conaie may consider insisting on two objectives before calling off the protests and moving back to their lands: One, canceling the IMF loan of US$ 4.2 billion, and two, suspending the Parliament and President Moreno of his functions; calling-in a caretaker government and planning new elections within 3 months; elections, in which Rafael Correa might again run for President.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; Greanville Post; Defend Democracy Press, TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.