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(en) France, UCL AL #347 - International, Ecuador: The so-called war against drug trafficking is a war against the people (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Fri, 5 Apr 2024 09:51:53 +0300

In Ecuador, the government claims to be waging war on drug trafficking. But by targeting impoverished and racialized populations, the State is in reality creating a crime of poverty which results in thousands of imprisonments to the detriment of human rights. By legalizing the carrying of weapons, increasing repressive means and building "mega-prisons", Ecuador has launched a war against the people. ---- "¡No son terroristas! ¡No, we are terrorists!» "They are not terrorists! We are not terrorists!», chant the committees of families of incarcerated people who have organized several gatherings in different cities in Ecuador since January 9. This slogan resonates in the streets while videos of prisoners humiliated and crushed by military forces circulate on social networks, generating the approval of thousands of Internet users.

This reminds us of two essential points. First, the "internal armed conflict" declared by President Daniel Noboa is not a war against drugs, it is a war waged against impoverished and racialized populations, labeled "terrorists" by a government that has arrested more than 7,200 people and killed 8 others in a month. Secondly, the Manichean reading of events that we are led into makes us lose our humanity.

The strategy of fear
Relayed from all sides, the discourse of "the war on drugs" seems to be unanimous, particularly in the media. On one side, a victim State, overwhelmed, on the other, mafias and sprawling armed groups which attack territories and institutions. The enemy becomes diffuse, impalpable, so much so that everyone becomes suspect.

This official reading of events prevents any understanding and depoliticizes the phenomenon by crushing the possibility of identifying the concrete actors and those responsible for the violence perpetrated. The various scandals demonstrating the links between the State and drug trafficking are glaring, while money laundering is carried out under the responsibility of the banks. But neither the State nor the banks are implicated in this "war on drugs".

While the militarization and para-militarization of the country advances and decrees to liberalize the economy rain down, fear turns against community ties, against the capacity for collective action and against the other in general. And when the possibilities for collective construction for life are broken and the feeling of danger is permanent, repressive policies are trivialized and state violence becomes common sense[1].

The families of people deprived of their liberty are demanding justice and reparation in Ecuador's prisons.
Committee of Families for Justice in Cárceles
Mega-prisons where the mafia thrives
However, it must be remembered that the "war on drugs" strategy has been applied since the 1980s and 1990s under the leadership of the United States. Trade agreements favorable to exports are concluded by Ecuador in exchange for the promise to fight against drug trafficking and to promote the North American military presence in the region[2]. The war on drugs therefore revolves around two axes: a neoliberalized economy which increases inequalities and mass impoverishment; and the massive and racial criminalization of populations excluded from the system of legal capital accumulation. Indeed, the populations targeted by the penal and punitive systems are the vast majority of people of Afro-descendants, Montubias, and of indigenous descent[3].

The presidency of Rafael Correa (2007-2017) was then marked by a "punitive boom". The incarcerated population triples in less than ten years, with the construction of giant prison complexes in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga. The criminalization of poverty crimes, well beyond micro-drug trafficking, is facilitated by the development of police technologies and new punitive institutions[4]. It is in these new mega-prisons that the mafias are being built, with significant responsibility for the State and the police[5]. This period is also marked by the advance of neoliberalism, particularly with the increase in extractivism in the Amazon.

More than 600 deaths in prison since 2021

The official return of neoliberalism in 2019 marks the multiplication of states of emergency, first during the 2019 social movement led by CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), then during the pandemic, and finally during the social movement of 2022, reinforcing the punitive system, as well as the stigmatization of racialized and impoverished populations, designated as a source of danger and labeled as terrorists during the mobilizations.

The governments of Lenín Moreno and Guillermo Lasso orchestrate the return of agreements with the IMF and the United States. Several massacres are taking place in prisons, with more than 600 incarcerated people having died since 2021, while the government legalizes the carrying of weapons and encourages the population to "self-defense". The war taking place in Ecuador is a neoliberal war directed against indigenous territories and impoverished urban spaces and their inhabitants. In Europe, in France, it is urgent to get rid of the epic narrative of third world countries with weak institutions, invaded by violence and the mafias of Pablo Escobar from the Netflix series.

In order not to lose our humanity, we must listen to those who find themselves in the crossfire of military and paramilitary organizations and who are suffering the invasion of their places of life: the powerful in this war are at the top. We are not facing a State that is too weak but rather an exacerbated punitive, racist, classist and patriarchal State.

As the Manifesto Against War[6]says: "We speak out against war as a government strategy that is intensifying today in Ecuador, but which has already cost the lives of thousands of people in countries in the region. like Mexico and Colombia, and which is expressed through genocide in countries like Palestine. Our demand is regional and global: We want peace with social justice for the whole world!»

Typhaine (UCL Finistère) and Gaëlle Le Gauyer

To validate

[1]Dawn Marie Paley, Guerra Neoliberal, Desaparición y búsqueda en el norte de México, 2014.

[2]Lisset Coba Mejía, Sitiadas: la criminalización de las pobres en Ecuador, 2015.

[3]Andrea Aguirre, Incivil y criminal: Quito como escenario de construction statetal de la delincuencia entre los decades 1960 y 1980, 2019.

[4]Aguirre, Léon, Ribadeneira, Sistema penitenciario y población penalizada pendante la Revolución Ciudadana (2007-2017), 2020.

[5]Jorge Nuñez, Muros: Voces anticarcelarias del Ecuador, 2022.

[6]Manifesto against the war in Ecuador, Latin America and the world, Change.org.

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