Violent repression in Ecuador as workers resist IMF package

Disastrous IMF policies are wreaking havoc on the country’s economy by eliminating social and labour rights. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) demands an end to the state-led political violence and also demands the release of protestors.

The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, has sparked massive protests after announcing a series of far-reaching cutbacks. The measures include a slate of regressive measures that would hit working communities hardest. He boasted that 23,000 public workers had been dismissed during his term and that non-permanent contracts in the public sector would be renewed with 20 per cent lower pay.

Moreno, however, underestimated the reaction of working people. Hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians have taken to the streets across the country since last week. The protests are being organised by indigenous organisations, students, farmers and the United Front of Workers (FUT) that includes the ITUC affiliate CEDOCUT.

Meanwhile, the government responded by declaring a state of emergency and employing heavy-handed riot police against the protesters. Hundreds of people have been arrested and at least one person was reportedly killed. On Tuesday, as military tanks were deployed in the capital, Quito, Moreno moved the government away from the capital to the city of Guayaquil in fear of the demonstrations.

“The ITUC had warned the government that the IMF loan would impoverish people and damage the country’s economy. Moreno, however, seems to be oblivious to the concerns of real people, while being submissive to the country´s elite and the diktats of IMF technocrats,” said ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow.

The IMF quickly spoke out in favour of the anti-worker legislative package, consistent with its past advocacy for the weakening of labour protections in Ecuador.

The social and economic situation is similarly dire in Argentina, where identical policies were introduced under the conditionalities of the IMF. At the outset of its loan to Argentina, the Fund praised the policies of President Macri as seeking “to foster growth and job creation, while reducing poverty”. The country, however, now records the worst rates of unemployment, poverty and inequality of the last 18 years.

“The IMF policies place an overwhelming burden on working people while bailing out corrupt financial elites and corporations. Argentina and Ecuador need the space to implement economic recovery by investing in people – not by imposing a failed model that drives countries into deeper economic and social crisis,” said Burrow.

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