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(en) Ecuadorian Congress fears for political life

From "el desaparecido" <desaparecido@gmx.de>
Date Tue, 15 Feb 2000 17:17:30 -0500

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> From:	cflores@hoy.net (Accion Ecologica)

- Indigenous leaders run off the road, survive 100 ft drop into 

The Ecuadorian Congress is on the run. The indigenous movement's 
proposal for a plebiscite on the validity of the Congress, amongst 
other things, and one which is likely to receive overwhelming popular
support, has most of the parties and Congressional members fearing 
for their political, and perhaps economic, future. At the same time, 
Indigenous leaders Antonio Vargas and Ricardo Ulcuango, the
president and vice-president of CONAIE, almost lost their lives when 
the car in which they were travelling was forced off the road by an 
unidentified vehicle which had been following them. Vargas and
 Ulcuango were plunged down a 100 ft ravine and into a river, but 
fortunately were able to free themselves before they were submerged. 
Vargas escaped unhurt while Ulcuango is suffering from a broken
collar bone. The event was barely publicised in the media, and as of 
yet no one has claimed responsibility for the attempt on their 

The day after the "accident", on Saturday the 12th, the plebiscite 
was finalised during a day long session of the National People's 
Parliament in Quito. The consultation will contain questions about 
whether the Congre ss should be dissolved, judges sacked and the 
Judicial System restructured, the dolarisation program rejected and  
the country closed to U.S. military bases. The statements are likely 
to receive whelming support. 

Inside the Congress itself, the issue has been discussed in closed 
session, but little has resulted from the efforts of the members to 
find a way out of their personal predicament. The parties and
the economic groups are desperately trying to disqualify the 
plebiscite as unconstitutional, and therefore deny the indigenous and 
popular movements any official support in the realisation of the 
popular  poll. However,  political and legal precedents do not 
appear to be on their side.

A poll was recently been held on autonomy for the Province of Guayas, 
home of the more right wing elements in the country, but the 
secession of a province from the rest of the country is plainly 
unconstitutional. This poll was heavily promoted by the Social 
Christian Party who saw it as a life line to boost their drooping 
popularity, and also by the mayor of Guayaquil, Leon Febres Cordero. 
The latter is an ex president who during his period in office 
surrounded the supreme court with tanks, as he didn't like the slate 
of congressionally nominated Supreme Court Judges

It also appears that the Electoral Tribunal, which is responsible for 
carrying out plebiscites, does not have the mandate to approve or 
reject questions, and the Constitutional Tribunal can only 
qualify applicability after the results are known. While on the 
question of the cessation of Congress the plebiscite itself will not 
have a constitutional basis, that is to say that there is presently
nothing in the constitution which would allow for sending the 
Congress packing, the results will carry enormous political weight, 
and will put the present political system and the government in 

And, according to Salvador Quishpe the acting president of the 
People's Parliament, if the Electoral Tribunal attempts to disqualify 
the plebiscite as illegal, the People's Parliament will be forced to 
pronounce on the future of the Electoral Tribunal.

Gerard Coffey
 pronock. nouals. e lnco 
pul th
overgrees.e candhe pul

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