Ecuador's Ruling Alliance Collapses Amid Scandal

President Lucio Gutierrez fired the three most powerful Indian ministers. In 2000, the Confederation of Indigenous Nations toppled former President Jamil Mahuad, as is now calling to mobilize

The former army colonel and current President of Ecuador Lucio Gutierrez first became known in January 21, 2000 when he joined protesting Indians to commandeer the Congress assembly hall. Later the same day, he formed a ruling junta with a Supreme Court judge and an Indian leader to overthrow the government. They ruled for only a few hours before the country's vice-president took power, and Mr. Gutierrez spent six months in jail as a result of the coup.


Since then, both Gutierrez and the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nations started a strong alliance to enter the government during the 2002 elections. When Gutierrez took presidency, he did it under a radical reforming program that worried investors, as the new president promised deep changes in economy. However, nothing like this happened and the government began delaying reforms, as the dollarized economy start showing signs of stagnation.  


Soon the "new Chavez", as he was nicknamed due to his populist oratory and military background, became a strong ally of Washington in South America and Colombia's rightist regime’s best friend. Then, his former supporters denounced for changing course.


On Wednesday, the alliance with the Indians collapsed. The president wanted to pass a questionable labor reform bill was angrily resisted by the Pachakutik (country's largest indigenous tribe) cabinet ministers. As could not convince them to agree to the law that restricts worker's rights, Lucio Gutierrez fired them and, in the process, started a scandal.


As aforesaid, the Pachakutik helped put President Gutierrez in office seven months ago on promises he would help the poor. But the Indian group's political branch has criticized what it calls Mr. Gutierrez's support for the right and its loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund that demands the labor reform.


As a result, Foreign Minister, Nina Pacar and Agricultural Minister, Luis Macas (all Pachakutik) lost their posts. President Gutierrez regretted fracture, but said that his decision was in "country's interest", because a "government cannot work in opposite directions.”


At the same time, a Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador spokesman called on its supporters to "mobilize." The Pachakutik also refused to vote another bill as the controversial "Administrative and Civil Career Law".


President Gutierrez's Patriotic Society party holds only a small number of seats in the 123-member National Congress, making alliances with other parties necessary in order to push bills through the legislature. Therefore, it is expected that he will face a fierce opposition in the Congress, as well as protests and marches in the streets.


Author`s name Olga Savka