Originally published: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfx-RmcZgANEXCdoZ0SHOwlM_GkqDZ-_RVy-M-rxWGTdwpzfA/viewform

Ecuador is undergoing a life-threatening crisis. If the economic situation was bad enough during the pandemic, under the current government led by banker Guillermo Lasso, the lives and livelihoods of most popular sectors are even more precarious. The hike in prices of fuel and basic goods instigated by the agreements with the IMF, the abandonment of the countryside and the agricultural sector by the State, the expansion of the extractive (oil and mining) frontier, the considerable decline in employment, and the systematic violation of labour and social rights during the last year, have brought millions of people into severe impoverishment and insecurity. So far, in 2022 there have been 118 femicides in Ecuador; and institutional, state and economic violence has increased due to the growing presence of drug cartels and hired assassins.

Five prison crises provoked by the government have resulted in the violent and cruel murder of about 350 inmates. But the peoples of Abya Yala know that the so-called “war on drugs” is a lucrative business of the narco-states associated with US imperialism, and is deployed to justify arming paramilitary groups and sow terror. It serves as the perfect pretext to accuse social movements and community, popular and Indigenous leaders of terrorism, drug trafficking, and other criminal acts, undermining legitimate social protest. Meanwhile, corporate and business elites increase their profits at state subsidy exacerbating job insecurity under the guise of “labour flexibility” and promoting ‘progressive use of force’.

Given this context, a few days ago the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), as well as peasant and Indigenous organizations such as the Ecuadorian Federation of Evangelical Indigenous Peoples (FEINE), and the Confederation of Peasant, Indigenous and Black Peoples’ Organizations (FENOCIN) among other national collectives called for an indefinite and national mobilization, starting on Monday, 13th June 2022. The reaction of the Interior Minister, Patricio Carrillo, was to deploy more than 50,000 police officers throughout the territory while Santiago Guarderas, the mayor of Quito, declared that another ‘October’ will not happen again (referring to the protests in October 2019 which led to the withdrawal of the IMF-backed Decree 883) and that “Quito will defend” against the arrival of the Indigenous movement.

Roadblocks set up across 17 of Ecuador’s provinces on Monday have faced severe police repression in many parts. In the early hours of 14th June, “unidentified agents presumably from elite commandos of the Armed Forces and the National Police Force” illegally, violently, arbitrarily and illegitimately detained the president of CONAIE, Leonidas Iza Salazar. For several hours, comrade Iza’s whereabouts were unknown, and up to this moment the government has been unable to clarify the alleged reasons for his detention. Until now, it remains unknown if there is a police report on the matter and if so, what its contents are. He has been transferred to the city of Latacunga, violating all regular detention procedures. Finally, in the last few hours, new arrests of other Indigenous and community members have been reported, and the Lasso government has ordered an unprecedented and excessive deployment of military and police forces against the protest.

In light of this, a broad spectrum of international collectives, Indigenous and social organizations including members of universities declare the following:

. Denounce the illegal, arbitrary and illegitimate arrests made by the Ecuadorian government. These arrests are an outrage aimed at undermining and criminalizing people’s fundamental right to social protest.
. Demand the immediate release of Leonidas Iza Salazar and other comrades illegally detained.
. Reject the criminalization of protest and the systematic persecution of leaders of Indigenous and social organisations, as well as the racist declarations of the members of the government and the constant disinformation in the media.
. Demand the end of repression and the use of excessive police and military force to stop the mobilizations and silence the voices of dissent in Ecuador.
. Stand in solidarity with the Ecuadorian people and their organizations, with Indigenous peoples and nationalities, with anti-extractive organisations, with the feminist, dissident and anti-patriarchal fronts, and with the young men and women who have taken to the streets with dignity to demand a radical change in the model of death, hunger and impoverishment that has implanted extreme neoliberal violence and precariousness.