President Lasso confirmed that he sent a letter to Conaie on Saturday, June 18, 2022, with the government’s response to their demands.
After eight days of strike in different sectors of the country, President Guillermo Lasso spoke on social networks on Monday and said that last Saturday he answered the letter from Conaie that contained their 10 demands.
President Lasso showed the response letter and maintained that “we have accepted the call of several civil society organizations, we all want dialogue, except a few violent ones.”
“We cannot allow a few violent people to prevent millions of Ecuadorians from working,” said the President, adding that he is in the capital to defend the city and their families.
According to the President, the government has “always been open to dialogue.”
“We have called for dialogue, but they do not want peace, they seek chaos. They want to throw out the President. I am here, I am not going to flee.”
“Democracy or chaos, that is the great battle; the battle for democracy.”
The indigenous movement sent their letter of 10 demands to the President on Monday, June 13th.
The leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), Leonidas Iza, announced that since there was no immediate response from the President, a national strike would proceed as planned.
In the 16-page response letter that Lasso sent to the Iza, the President answered point by point the actions that the government has developed to meet the agenda of ten demands that the group raised on June 13th, at the beginning of the “indefinite strike.”
Meanwhile, the mobilizations towards the capital continue, from the provinces of the north and south of Pichincha. Road closures have been the trend in various parts of the country and demonstrations have also been present in the cantonal capitals.
After receiving the letter from Lasso, Iza nonetheless continues to push the strike and a march to Quito, rather than enter in discussions with the Government.
Here is a summary of President Lasso’s response letter to Conaie leader Leonidas Iza:
1. Freeze diesel prices at $1.50 and extra gasoline and ecopaís at $2.10 and targeting of subsidies to vulnerable sectors:
Guillermo Lasso reminded Leonidas Iza that last October, this government eliminated the system of bands to fix the price of fuels that was tied to the international price of crude oil, and that it froze the values of a gallon of diesel at $1.90 and that of extra gasoline and ecopaís at $2.55.
And he insisted that they will remain that way, as will the gas cylinders for domestic use.
Additionally, he said that the price of the extra is one of the lowest in the region, and that it only slightly exceeds those of Colombia and Bolivia, where they are subsidized.
He denied that the level of inflation in the country is related to fuel prices, but to the consequences of the war between Ukraine and Russia.
2. Moratoria on public, private and cooperative banking debts. Forgiveness of debts to small and medium producers in the countryside.
The president told the indigenous leader that through executive decree 456, he has arranged a series of measures related to this issue to generate economic relief for the peasant sector. They are the following:
- From July 1st, loan disbursements at 1% interest and a 30-year term will increase by $100 million.
- New productive credit line for another $100 million, at 5% interest, for a 10-year term and for an amount of up to $20,000.
- From July 1st, the interest rate will be lowered from 10% to 5% of the credits that BanEcuador has in force.
- BanEcuador will forgive overdue debts up to May 31st of more than $3,000.
His letter also points out that in the “framework of the Government’s dialogue policy” it welcomes his initiative to create a special commission to investigate complaints of abuses and undue charges with representatives of the affected sectors.
3. Fair prices for farm products in the three regions of the country, agricultural subsidies and no FTA signatures that destroy national production
Lasso tells Iza that on June 17th the government announced a subsidy package for farmers in the country that consists of the following:
- Starting in July, 50% of the price of urea will be subsidized for medium and small farmers.
- The delivery of agricultural kits that include inputs and seeds will be subsidized, which will benefit 20,000 families in the country.
- Regarding milk, the president points out that the price on the farms has been established at $0.42 and that control actions are being carried out to ensure that it is met.
With regards to bananas, he said that in order to comply with the official price of $6.25 per box, an agreement by the Ministry of Agriculture that authorized the planting of more hectares of the fruit has been repealed and that those who do not pay the official price will be sanctioned. As of June 17th, 38 exporters have been audited.
As for the rice sector, Lasso reminded Iza that last April the price of a sack of short-grain rice was set at $32.50, and that of long-grain rice at $34.50, and that exports of the grass are not subject to taxes.
4. Employment, labor rights, freedom of association and organization of the working class
At this point, Lasso detailed some employment figures for Iza.
Through the Public Employment Exchange, 54,037 people have been given work, between May 24, 2021, and June 17, 2022. While in the Single Labor System of the ministry of the branch, employers have registered 503,213 contracts.
Also, the basic salary was raised from $400 to $425.
Regarding trade unionism, he told Iza that 1,670 procedures from labor organizations and 1,571 from social organizations have been attended to. And 96 new collective contracts have been signed.
Regarding labor legislation, Lasso tells Iza that it is his desire to promote a law that creates employment, that he already tried when he sent the bill for the creation of opportunities to the National Assembly and that it was not accepted for processing; furthermore, that he hopes to resume the dialogues with all the groups involved to elaborate a new one in which new types of contracts are collected.
Regarding the debt to the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS), lasso said that in the General State Budget of 2022 an additional item has been included for the institution of $1.0 billion for what is owed from previous years; and as a contribution for 2022 there are $1.583 billion.
5. Stop the expansion of the extractive mining/oil frontier, audit and comprehensive reparation for socio-environmental impacts for the protection of territories, water sources and fragile ecosystems. Repeal of decrees 95 and 151.
In his response, the president tells the indigenous leader that the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition is carrying out processes to regularize hydrocarbon, mining and electrical projects, as well as controls and monitoring.
In the hydrocarbon sector, 237 administrative processes have been initiated; in mining, 309 inspections of concessions have been carried out and, in some cases, activities have been suspended and no new ones have been granted.
A series of actions are also planned for the remediation of environmental liabilities in three cases: Chevron-Texaco, Sinangoe and associated with mining without liability of legal persons.
- Chevron-Texaco: The National Environmental Quality Committee has been created, which is generating a remediation plan for the 1,107 environmental liabilities left by this multinational in Sucumbíos and Orellana.
- It is in the process of contracting environmental remediation in the Puerto Libre parish, Sucumbíos, affected by illegal mining.
- 362 areas with sources of contamination of mining origin have been identified and information is being collected in this regard.
6. Respect for the 21 collective rights: intercultural bilingual education, indigenous justice, prior free and informed consultation, organization and self-determination of indigenous peoples.
Lasso explains to Iza in detail what progress has been made in various aspects.
In bilingual intercultural education, he indicates that the secretariat of the branch is fully operational and shows a picture of the built infrastructure.
Existing Total: 1,646
|Detail||Total schools||Investment amount|
And he reminds Iza that the government announced, among the compensatory measures, the doubling of the budget for intercultural bilingual education.
Regarding indigenous justice, he tells him that the Human Rights Secretariat is permanently monitoring that this is respected and complied with, and that there are spaces for dialogue to eradicate discrimination.
From the prior consultation, he points out that decree 151 was issued in his government establishing a Mining Action Plan that contemplates this issue, but reminds him that it is the National Assembly that is responsible for issuing an Organic Law on prior consultation.
7. Stop the privatization of strategic sectors (Bank of the Pacific, hydroelectric plants, IESS, CNT, highways, health and others
Lasso points out to Iza that on June 17th he announced that privatization processes of State assets in strategic sectors or public services will not be carried out or promoted.
And that the best mechanisms will be sought to achieve greater efficiency in processes of delegation of powers that require private participation and work will be done on a law that regulates public-private partnerships.
He explains that within the framework of his investment attraction policy, it was decided to return to the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which has been endorsed by the Constitutional Court, and that this does not imply a transfer of sovereignty.
In addition, he indicated that talks would begin to negotiate investment agreements in which there will be no clauses that limit the regulatory capacity of the State.
8. Price control policy and speculation in the markets of essential products.
The president tells the president of Conaie that Executive Decree 452 has already been issued, in which governors and mayors are ordered to carry out these controls.
9. Guarantee youth access to higher education and improvement of infrastructure in schools, colleges and universities.
Lasso points out that the Government has increased the budget of the universities by $50 million but reminds him that they have administrative and financial autonomy, for which the repowering of their infrastructure depends on their internal efforts.
He adds that the increase in quotas has been achieved. Last year there were 202,000, for this year there were 243,000.
Regarding basic general education, he tells him that they have an action plan with five axes referring to inclusive and intercultural education, reintegration, excellence, dignity of the teaching career, and freedom and autonomy of educational institutions.
The president indicated that, regarding health, this sector was declared an emergency on June 17th through Executive Decree 454.
10. Security and generation of public policies to curb the wave of violence and crime in the country
Lasso details these points:
- Strengthening of the National Police in human resources and the entry of 30,000 new police officers, new technology, new UPC and UVC and equipment.
- $1.2 billion invested to combat insecurity.
- Articulated work with local governments and other state and private sector agencies, NGOs, academia and more.
- Joint work with the Judiciary and international cooperation in security matters.
As an additional measure, Lasso mentions the increase in the Human Development Bonus from $50 to $55 starting in July.
What does President Lasso consider a few, where I come from that’s less than 12. There are hundreds of violent protesters, not just a few.
The piece says “The indigenous movement sent their letter of 10 demands to the President on Monday, June 13th.”. However, the indigenous leaders are claiming this was sent to President Lasso 11 months ago. Can anyone confirm which is the case? Thank you.
Federal, provincial and local governments disagree on mining concessions. Violations ocurring in areas where Cuenca’s water sources originate. Federally controlled police are allowing it. Lasso has not directly and adequately addressed this.
I think the public needs representation in all of these decisions. I do not mean token or chosen persons, but those who live in the community and are impacted by the decisions made by those who do not live in the community or have any stake in the outcome.
Interesting that the Pres. will invest 1.2 billion to increase the numbers of officers and equipment to increase security and repression instead of increasing the budget in education and social services to reduce delinquency.
We retired to Ecuador in 2013. From then through 2018 (as I recall) there was virtually no inflation, but the government was deeply in debt to China. The government sought help from IMF and part of the agreement was that Ecuador must reduce and remove the gasoline subsidies over time. So, gasoline prices rose, prices rose, but income for most did not. Then the pandemic hit. The government reacted slowly but gradually handled COVID-19 about as well as any other country. So, like many countries, Ecuador has maxed out their credit and is facing years of belt tightening. Generally, I think they are on the right path but sooner or later the haves need to pay more in taxes and Ecuador probably needs to increase the federal sales tax. But, many here think that after all those years with 0% inflation that simply changing the government leadership will cure the problem and a new president will give them the subsidies they demand. I love this country and the people. Sometimes though, reality sucks.