Letter: Celebrating the Ecuador’s Citizens Revolution

9:40 am - February 17th 2013

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Ecuadorians go to the polls today to elect their President (17 February 2013).

Ecuador is today being transformed by radical social and economic reforms known as the Citizens Revolution. Led by President Rafael Correa this process is tackling the deep crisis caused by years of extreme neo-liberal policies forced on Ecuador under the Washington Consensus.

President Correa first came to office in 2007 in the aftermath of huge economic, social and political turbulence in Ecuador. Seven different Presidents were replaced in a decade. A massive banking collapse caused income per head to fall by one-third. Unemployment rocketed and one in ten Ecuadorians was forced to emigrate to escape the crisis.

Today, in contrast, the Citizens Revolution offers Ecuador a new development model that has already delivered major achievements. A tripling of social investment in just five years has significantly boosted economic growth and meant that Ecuador never entered recession despite the global slowdown. One million Ecuadorian households have been lifted out of poverty and 450,000 children have been taken out of child labour.

The right to decent work means that unemployment has almost halved and is now at its lowest ever levels, the minimum wage has doubled and outsourcing has been made illegal. The huge increases in social spending are guaranteeing free education, including at university level, free healthcare and better public services for all.

These tremendous advances are all the more impressive given that they have taken place against the backdrop of the global economic crisis.

At the same time a new constitution, backed by popular referendum, now guarantees human rights and equality for the once-excluded as well as granting rights to nature. Ecuador is also at the forefront of ground-breaking environmental measures.

In achieving all of this in South America’s third poorest country, the Correa government has had to challenge the previous elites that dominated Ecuador for decades. Sovereignty over the country’s oil and other natural resources has been recovered from the hands of multinationals. Ecuador has repudiated the punishing debt owed to international financial institutions that meant three times as much was being spent on debt repayment than on social services. Tax collection from the very wealthy has increased in order to fund social projects and Ecuador has shut down the USA military base in the country.

Fierce opposition to all of this has come from the old elite and its international allies. A coup d’état was even attempted in 2010. Fears of external intervention to affect the likely outcome of the coming election have been recently expressed by President Correa. At the same time media misrepresentations about Ecuador have increased, with much of this disinformation stemming from those opposed to Ecuador’s progressive new direction.

The Presidential election will be the 8th free and fair nation-wide electoral process in the past 6 years. There are seven candidates but polls indicate that the main contest is between President Rafael Correa and Guillermo Lasso, a former head of one of Ecuador’s largest banks. Correa is polling firmly in the lead.

We believe that, as with other developments in Latin America, Ecuador’s Citizens Revolution, offers an inspiring alternative to the failed policies of neo-liberalism. We are certain that a further victory for the Citizens Revolution will allow the Ecuadorian people to continue expanding social justice.

We believe that it is the right of the Ecuadorian people to pursue this path if that is their wish and that any external intervention should be condemned.

Ken Livingstone
Chris Williamson MP
Ian Davidson MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Katy Clark MP
Grahame Morris MP
Kelvin Hopkins MP
Baroness Sue Miller of Chilthorne Domer, Liberal Democrat Peer
Elaine Smith, Member Scottish Parliament
Denis Skinner MP
Paul Flynn MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP

Tariq Ali, author
Richard Gott, author
Owen Jones, author and writer
Brian Eno, Musician
Ken Loach, filmmaker
John Pilger, filmmaker
Linton Kwesi Johnson, poet

Louise Christian, award-winning British human rights lawyer.
Tim Potter, Barrister
Michael Mansfield QC, barrister
Imran Khan, human rights lawyer

Professor Ernesto Laclau, Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of Essex,
Professor Doreen Massey, Emeritus Professor (Geography), The Open University
Professor George Irvin, Uni. of London, SOAS
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, Department of Management, London School of Economics
Dr Peter Lambert is Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath
Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Chairman international institute for the Study of Cuba
Dr Thomas Muhr, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol
Professor Bill Bowring, Barrister, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr J Buxton, Peace Studies, Bradford University
Professor Mike Cole, Emeritus Research Professor in Education and Equality, Bishop Grosseteste University
John Weeks Professor Emeritus SOAS, University of London
Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Chairman International Institute for the Study of Cuba, London Metropolitan University
Diana Raby, Senior Fellow, Latin American Studies University of Liverpool
Professor Peter Hallward, Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University
Dr Francisco Dominguez,
Dr Lee Salter, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, University West England
Dr Michael Derham, Programme Leader Spanish and Latin American Studies, Northumbria University, Newcastle -upon-Tyne
Dr Julie Hearn, Lecturer, Department of Politics, Philosophy & Religion (PPR), Lancaster University
Dr. Mehmet Ali Dikerdem, M/DProf Programme Leader, Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University,
Dr Steve Ludlam, University of Sheffield

Len McCLuskey, General Secretary UNITE
Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU
Manuel Cortes, general Secretary, TSSA Union
Bob Crow, General Secretary RMT
Mick Whelan, General Secretary ASLEF
Ronnie Draper, General Secretary, Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union
Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB,
Luke Crawley, Assistant General Secretary, BECTU
Roger McKenzie, Assistant General Secretary UNISON
Tony Burke, Unite Assistant General Secretary
Steve Turner, Director of executive policy, Unite the union,
Tony Kearns, Senior Deputy General Secretary, Communication Workers Union
Andrew Murray, Chief of Staff, Unite the union,
Martin Mayer, UNITE executive council member, Chair United Left, & Labour NEC delegate
Moz Greenshields, UNISON NEC
Beranard Regan, Chair of SERTUC International Committee and Secretary of the CSC
Joe Mann President GFTU
John Fray Vice President GFTU

Ann Pettifor, economist
Neal Lawson, Chair, Compass
Bruce Kent, leading peace activist
Lindsey German, Founder of Stop the War Coalition
Chris McLaughlin, Editor TRIBUNE
Aaron Kiely, NUS Black Students’ Officer
Rob Miller Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign
Colin Burgon, Chair Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Luke Daniels, President of Caribbean Labour Solidarity
Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign
Matthew Willgress, Convenor VSC
Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair BARAC UK and PCS union NEC
Jose Vallejo Villa, Regional Coordinating Officer, Unite the UNION
Michael Burke, Socialist Economic Bulletin
Lee Brown, researcher on Latin America
John Haylett, Morning Star political editor
Cat Smith, Convenor, Next Generation Labour (PC)
Pav Akhtar, Director, UK Black Pride
Sam Gurney, Labour Party National Policy Forum

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Reader comments

This is interesting:

“Led by President Rafael Correa this process is tackling the deep crisis caused by years of extreme neo-liberal policies forced on Ecuador under the Washington Consensus.”

This is what the Washington Consensus actually is:

“The consensus as originally stated by Williamson included ten broad sets of relatively specific policy recommendations:[1]

Fiscal policy discipline, with avoidance of large fiscal deficits relative to GDP;
Redirection of public spending from subsidies (“especially indiscriminate subsidies”) toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment;
Tax reform, broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates;
Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
Competitive exchange rates;
Trade liberalization: liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs;
Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment;
Privatization of state enterprises;
Deregulation: abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudential oversight of financial institutions;
Legal security for property rights.

Note that is says privatisation of state enterprises, not services.

And other than that one, what else in that list would anyone disagree with? What actually is wrong with any of them?

I take issue with the letter’s claim that Ecuador is at the forefront of environmental protection when stories like this are happening


@ Tim

The biggest problem with the Washington consensus is the fact that existing economic elites used it as a fig leaf to cover their own blatant greed and corruption…

I have been following the exploits of president Correa now for some time. I believe there is a consensus that he is achieving good thing no doubt. While some still believe that he has an authoritarian style of governing. Sometime however that particular style is warranted where the people themselves re in disarray. I have faith that he will be reelected and will go on to do good work.

5. So Much for Subtlety

The shorter version: “We were wrong about Stalin, and Mao, and Ho Chi-minh, and Pol Pot, and Castro, and the Sandanistas, but this time, by gum, we are right! A paradise is being built somewhere far away we have no intention of ever moving to so please don’t do anything that would stop the experiment – no matter how many people die.”

What they don’t get is no cares. The Ecuadorans are welcome to be as stupid as they like. We know where this will end up – hopefully with a lot fewer deaths than in Cuba. As long as Correa stops arming and protecting terrorists like the FARC is really is none of anyone else’s business.

So in the meantime, while are we waiting for the Ecuadoran experience to end up in the same graveyard of naive hopes all the others did, a little poetry:

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! </i.

It is a strange form of rejecting Washington when you dollarise your economy. A dollarisation so deep that the U.S. dollar is their official currency. Every dollar that Ecuador accumulates is a free dollar for the U.S. government. Moreover, dollarisation means they have no independent monetary policy as they automatically import U.S. monetary policy. Effectively, they are a U.S. state without the benefits.

When they defaulted in 2008, over a $30.6m coupon payment, they had $5.65bn in cash reserves. Hardly punishing. However, what the government is saving is matched by the extra costs their private sector firms are charged for borrowing. It is nearly always better to come to negotiated arrangements with lenders rather than repudiate agreements made by your predecessors. Otherwise you are like Ecuador, forced to go to places like Iran for lines of credit. Moreover, they are always vulnerable to having any dollars they move through the international financial system seized by vulture funds.

There seems to be a pattern with the UK left in misunderstanding countries awash with cash generated by the commodities boom for real change. Commodity cycles have always throughout human history turned down. The naked swimmers will be revealed when this one ends and the commodity revenues dry up.

@Richard W,
Dollarisation was the policy of Correa’s predecessor. He was always against it, and I think still is, but it’s not all that easy to undo.

Ironically the poster boys of neo liberalism have committed genocide too, SMFS. In fact throughout history there have been, from many people who cannot possibly be called marxist or communist. So the real problem is when power acumulates in the hands of a few individuals, combined with spats over resources and our inherent tribalism as a species.


Although I have to hand it to you, the history of genocide does show Marxist ideologues commiting numerically worse genocide events. So far…

I am an ecuadorian living in London, The citizen’s revolution is transforming our country for the better. The clear vision this goverment has, to put us “it’s people” at the centre of these changes, is the engine that will carry our process forward. There are many examples of the improvements in people’s lives since 2007. For instance the ecuadorian migrants have now support through the National Secretariat for Migrants, Ecuadorian House in London. We have six elected members of our national assambly whom represent us. We have free access to study in the best world’s universities, and so on.
There may be things that can be improved in this process, but our citizens revolution is here to stay.

10. So Much for Subtlety

8. Dissident

Ironically the poster boys of neo liberalism have committed genocide too, SMFS.

I don’t see the irony, but if so, produce the evidence. Who? Not that it matters as no one signing this petition, from what I can see, wants anything other than a totalitarian state and mass murder. While precisely no one outside the sort of people who sign this sort of letter want the same thing among citizens of the UK.

In fact throughout history there have been, from many people who cannot possibly be called marxist or communist.

That is nice. I don’t see where anyone has claimed that Marxists have a monopoly on evil. Or perhaps you are using the “everyone does it” defence?

9. Paul Madrid

I am an ecuadorian living in London, … There are many examples of the improvements in people’s lives since 2007. … We have free access to study in the best world’s universities, and so on.
There may be things that can be improved in this process, but our citizens revolution is here to stay.

And yet you, like many others, live in London. The irony seems to escape you. Keep up the Revolution. I hope it works out for you. But here is my prediction – ever larger numbers of Ecuadorans will flee to London rather than continue to live in their homeland. Why, I can’t possibly imagine.

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    […] huge victory last night, it is worth drawing attention to the statement published yesterday on Liberal Conspiracy, showing their support for the social progress underway in Ecuador […]

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