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Montevideo, April 1st 2023 - 23:53 UTC



Ecuador's president takes a gamble with a multi-item referendum

Sunday, February 5th 2023 - 09:31 UTC
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Lasso needs to revalidate his credentials through an electoral victory. Otherwise, his days as President will be steeply uphill Lasso needs to revalidate his credentials through an electoral victory. Otherwise, his days as President will be steeply uphill

The Ecuadorian Government of President Guillermo Lasso will seek Sunday to revamp an administration with waning popularity through a referendum whereby the citizenry is to allegedly set the guidelines for the future steps of the conservative head of state.

People will have to vote on eight separate questions answerable by either YES or NO, which are the following:

1. Extradition of Ecuadorians is prohibited for all crimes, including those related to transnational organized crime such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, and smuggling of migrants. Do you agree with allowing the extradition of Ecuadorians who have committed crimes related to transnational organized crime, through processes that respect rights and guarantees, amending the Constitution in accordance with Annex 1?

2. Currently, the Judiciary Council selects, evaluates, promotes, trains, and sanctions prosecutors. Do you agree with guaranteeing the autonomy of the Attorney General's Office, so that it may select, evaluate, promote, train, and sanction the public servants that form part of it through a Prosecutorial Council, amending the Constitution in accordance with Annex 2?

3. Currently, the National Assembly is made up of 137 assembly members and it is estimated that, with the 2022 population census, this number will increase to approximately 152 assembly members. Do you agree with reducing the number of assembly members and that they are elected according to the following criteria: 1 assembly member per province and 1 additional provincial assembly member for every 250,000 inhabitants; 2 national assembly members for every million inhabitants; and 1 assembly member for every 500,000 inhabitants residing abroad, amending the Constitution according to Annex 3?

4. There are currently 272 political movements in Ecuador. Do you agree with requiring political movements to have a minimum number of affiliates equivalent to 1.5% of the electoral registry of their jurisdiction and mandating them to keep a registry of their members periodically audited by the National Electoral Council, amending the Constitution according to Annex 4?

5. The Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (CPCCS) is a public entity that currently has the power to appoint 77 authorities. Do you agree with eliminating the power to appoint authorities that the CPCCS has and implementing public processes that guarantee citizen participation, meritocracy, and public scrutiny so that the National Assembly will be the one to appoint through these procedures the authorities currently elected by the CPCCS by amending the Constitution according to Annex 5?

6. The CPCCS is a public entity that is currently elected by universal suffrage. Do you agree with modifying the appointment process of the members of the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control, so that they are elected through a process that guarantees citizen participation, meritocracy, [and] public scrutiny, carried out by the National Assembly, amending the Constitution in accordance with Annex 6?

7. The Constitution excludes water protection areas from the National System of Protected Areas. Do you agree with the incorporation of a water protection subsystem to the National System of Protected Areas, amending the Constitution according to Annex 7?

8. The Constitution does not provide for the compensation of those who support the generation of environmental services. Do you agree that individuals, communities, peoples, and nationalities may be beneficiaries of compensations duly regularized by the State, for their support to the generation of environmental services, amending the Constitution according to Annex 8?

With this democratic tool, Lasso plans to measure his approval after 18 months at the helm of a crime-torn country. He is one of the few heads of state in the continent not aligned with the left, the other two being Paraguay and Uruguay. Lasso is taking advantage of the municipal elections to hold the referendum simultaneously.

Last year's 4,550 crimes place Ecuador as one of the most violent countries in Latin America with a rate of 25 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Sunday's public consultation has been heralded as a solution to these problems.

Political analyst Pedro Donoso told El País that the referendum has been marketed as a solution to the problem of insecurity. So if Lasso wins the referendum and violence remains unchanged it will be a short-lived victory. “Months ago, Lasso announced the end of the pandemic in Ecuador and in December the indicators of contagion soared. He announced the withdrawal of the Schengen visa and it was not possible, he announced a Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and it did not happen,” Donoso explained.

At any rate, some of the reforms will take between one to two years to implement and by that time Lasso's term will be over, Donoso also explained.

There are currently 222 Ecuadorians with Interpol red notices wanted in 17 countries for crimes related to drug trafficking, crimes against children, money laundering, arms trafficking, and explosives.

Although the extradition clause proposed by Lasso's administration is limited to those proven to be linked to transnational organized crime, even that is linked to some degree to “poverty and unemployment, and the referendum will not solve it,” Donoso said.

According to Lasso, “by reducing the number of legislators, we will also increase control, vigilance, and demands on them”. However, reducing the political representation would concentrate representation in parties such as former President Rafael Correa's Revolución Ciudadana.

Meanwhile, Lasso's government has been accused by indigenous groups of failing to comply with agreements made in the past and therefore urged people to vote against Lasso's proposals.

The native groups said the President has failed to comply with 90 % of the 218 agreements reached at dialogue tables last October after protests paralyzed the country in the previous months. In Sunday's referendum, eight initiatives stemming from the dialogue tables will be voted on.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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