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Ruling party at risk of disintegrating
Luis Ángel Saavedra
11/20/2017
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The leadership of Alianza PAIS party decided to dismiss Lenín Moreno as president of that organization.

The once strong governing movement Alianza PAIS is about to sink if its national leaders insist on supporting those who ruled for 10 years with former President Rafael Correa, while its base members and provincial leaders are increasingly aligned with the new style of the current President Lenín Moreno and his permanent invitation to dialogue.

What began with a tug-of-war in the speeches of the two Alianza PAIS top leaders, Correa and Moreno, soon became an irreconcilable fracture that has forced the militants of this political tent to define their support for one or the other.

The legal situation of Jorge Glas, vice-president elected with Moreno, accelerated the seism, as he became the image of corruption that supposedly had reigned under the Correa regime, which held the presidency from 2007 to 2017. In August, Moreno revoked all the vice-presidency functions from Glas.

Glas was arrested on Oct. 2 and has been summoned to trial, accused of leading an illegal association that demanded bribes in several contracts with the state, through his uncle Ricardo Rivera, who, without having any official role in Correa’s government, was in charge of state business transactions with the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and other Chinese companies, with whom large infrastructure and oil exploitation projects were contracted.

The cracks in Alianza PAIS provoked the eagerness to seize control of this political movement, which was presided over by Moreno, while the two vice-presidents, Glas and Ricardo Patiño, remain faithful defenders of Correa.

On Oct. 30, nine Alianza PAIS national board members removed Moreno from the presidency of the political organization and appointed Patiño as the new top leader of this movement. Assemblywoman Gabriela Rivadeneira, the party’s national secretary, said that the dismissal was for not attending the meetings of the national board of directors on more than three occasions and for “carrying out activities that go against the organic unity of the movement.” This Alianza PAIS faction also sent a case file to the party’s Ethics Commission to analyze the possibility of expelling Moreno from its ranks.

Conflicts over allegations of corruption
This decision was not accepted by José Serrano, president of the National Assembly, who described it as illegal. The Alianza PAIS Court of Ethics is now calling on those who removed Moreno from his post to explain the reasons that led them to assume roles that were not theirs, let alone to proceed with a dismissal without a trial, as Moreno was not even notified that his dismissal would be addressed at a meeting of the National Directorate.

Patiño, on the other hand, is reporting a persecution against those who disagree with the government’s policies, for which they would be using the National Audit Office, and gives as an example the glosa — wrongful civil responsibility that establishes an economic damage against the state — imposed by this entity against assemblywoman Marcela Aguiñaga for a US$41 million excessive payment in the purchase of land from the Social Security Institute of the Armed Forces (ISSFA) when she was Minister of Environment (2007-2012).

The accusations of Patiño are reminiscent of Correa’s actions, since the use of glosas by the National Audit Office against opposition politicians was the best tool used to enforce the silence of those who opposed his policies, as in the case of Salvador Quishpe, indigenous Prefect of Zamora Chinchipe, or the case of Tarquino Cajamarca, Mayor of Limón Indantza, where large mining projects are being carried out.

“They’re giving them a taste of their own medicine,” says Cajamarca, who now acts as a lawyer for the people displaced by mining projects.

The most conspicuous scenario of this confrontation is the National Assembly, where the assembly members of the ruling party have begun to define their positions, leaving aside the assertions that the Alianza PAIS legislative bloc was firmly united, as it had shown by refusing to support a request for political prosecution of Glas.

“The National Assembly must wait for justice to do its job and not intervene,” was the slogan behind which the assembly members of the ruling party protected themselves not to deal with the opposition’s request.

When the pro-government breakdown was evident, the opposition once again tried to prosecute Glas and presented a new request on Nov. 8 to the legislature’s secretariat, backed by 65 signatures, including the signature of Alianza PAIS assemblywoman Marcia Arregui, from the central province of Los Ríos.

“I am indebted to my province, to the people that elected me, and the people say that Jorge Glas must be judged,” Arregui argued in defending her position and for having moved away from the instruction to keep up appearances by pretending unity.

Pro-government assemblymen in their own labyrinth
The new plea for a political trial forced the Alianza PAIS delegates to meet urgently on the same day to seek a consensus position, which was not possible and chose to make a statement of support for Moreno, without mentioning the political trial of Glas. The letter of support was signed by 47 assembly members with 19 abstaining. The latest development was that Soledad Buendía and Viviana Bonilla, assembly members close to Correa, also signed the letter in support of the president.

The letter in support of the government, circulated by Serrano as president of the National Assembly, also announced its support for Moreno’s call, made on Sept. 18, for a popular consultation with seven questions, including the indefinite non-reelection, which, if approved, would truncate all the aspirations of the Correa sector to have its leader back in power.

Other questions raised by the Executive include issues related to suppressing political rights for those guilty of corruption, restricting metal mining and the non-applicability of the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against children and adolescents. The questions were submitted to the Constitutional Court, which must pronounce without a specified period of time, and then the procedure will pass to the National Electoral Council (CNE), which must make the official call for the consultation.

Daniel Mendoza, also an Alianza PAIS assemblyman, in public statements manifested that support for the popular consultation also implied a call to vote affirmatively on the seven questions. This triggered Buendía’s furious reaction.

“Mr. Mendoza is a liar. I challenge him. I’m fed up with him always speaking on behalf of the bloc,” she said. “Mr. Mendoza does not represent the bloc.” Buendía clarified that her support is for the consultation because the people have the right to be consulted, but not for the content of the questions. Bonilla, for her part, simply stated that it was time to close the gaps that had occurred in Alianza PAIS.

Having the euphoric statements on both sides calmed down, the only thing that was clear from the meeting of the Alianza PAIS assembly members was that they disagreed.

“We have agreed that we can disagree,” Mendoza said, destroying definitely the version of unity that had maintained the bloc.

While most Alianza PAIS militants are defining the sector with which they will align in the future, others remain in expectation and prefer not to speak out. Assemblyman Jorge Yunda, for example, does not make his position clear, since in Correa’s government he consolidated a large network of radio and television frequencies despite the frequencies audit report that took place in that same government, and he fears that the current government will look back at how this large consortium of media outlets was consolidated. —Latinamerica Press.


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President receives backing from former constituent assembly members for holding the popular consultation. /Presidency of the Republic of Ecuador
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