Ecuador is experiencing a new escalation of violence and uncertainty, evidencing a moment of crisis that has been gradually taking shape and ascending for decades. In this context, we welcome the initiative of the trade union movement and popular movement to convene a great convention to define joint proposals that can stop the war. More organization, more unity and more strength of the working class is what we need for the change we want.
Solidarity statement with the unions and associations of public services workers affiliated to Public Services International, with sister unions and popular social organizations, as well as with the people of Ecuador:
Since the beginning of the year, crossfire, looting, assassinations, hired killings and the violent occupation of public institutions, including prisons, by organized crime, have created an atmosphere of political and social tension and fear among the population. While this wave of outbreaks of violence is focused on Guayaquil and other coastal cities, prison escapes and insurrections are occurring nationwide, including near the capital Quito. A recent development has caused even more unrest.
In response, President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency throughout the national territory on January 8, and a state of internal armed conflict the following day, opting for the militarization of the country. These measures have not yielded the results expected by the Government, causing the "state of internal war" to take on economic, political, and social dimensions, and the most vulnerable sectors of the population, among them the working class, are paying the price.
We are concerned about the human rights violations, racism and classism that underlie the slum settlements undertaken by the government in the name of war.
Moreover, the state of emergency and the declaration of a state of armed conflict resulted in the interruption of several essential public services such as health. Outpatient services in health centres and public hospitals stopped, and only emergency services remained available, without any assessment of the damages produced. Likewise, other public services and their workers throughout the country were in the front line of attention and continue to give body to the continuity of life that all these public services provide.
This situation occurs in the context of layoffs in the public sector, cuts in the health and education budgets and delays in payments in municipalities and provincial councils of up to 4 months.
We underscore the importance of the government ensuring the full provision of public services to communities, as well as protecting and guaranteeing the safety of the workers who provide them. In addition, the government must ensure the security of the population that is not part of the conflict.
Finally, this context cannot be an opportunity to take harmful measures, especially in relation to foreign investment and public goods. Public ownership of common goods is necessary to ensure egalitarian public policies. Promoting foreign investment and recognizing international arbitration as a method to solve investment disputes cannot be a solution to the crisis the country is going through. The international experience shows that such measures tie the hands of the government to promote sovereign public policies, which is what the country needs.
Similarly, the privatization of public services, more labour flexibilization and regressive fiscal measures such as the VAT increase, will lead to a greater impoverishment of the popular and middle sectors, giving more room for social decomposition.
Public Services International (PSI) expresses our solidarity to PSI's affiliated public service unions and associations, to our sister unions and popular social organizations, as well as to the people of Ecuador. We welcome and support the initiative of the United Front of Workers (FUT), of which our affiliates are part, including FENOGOPRE and FETMYP, to convene a great convention on 3 February 2024.
PSI will continue to support its affiliates in these difficult times.