Film Premiere: The Death of Jaime Roldós

La-muerte-de-Jaime-Roldós

Part of the Stories From Ecuador film festival.
Admission Free Thursday 23rd October
Bolivar Hall, Grafton Way, London W1T5DL
Reserve your place now by emailing storiesfromecuador2014@gmail.com

On the 24th of May 1981, Ecuador’s first democratically elected president was killed in a plane crash less than two years into his first term of office. A fierce advocate of human rights, Jaime Roldós’ election caused shockwaves across a Latin America dominated by right-wing dictatorships by announcing sweeping political and social transformations and demanding a greater share of Ecuador’s oil wealth be used to reduce poverty.

Roldós’ death has long been considered suspicious. The United States and neighbouring military dictatorships were strongly against Roldós’ program, and with the election of Ronald Reagan in January 1981 tensions had increased considerably. Many of Roldós’ fellow progressives also died in plane crashes, and in the 1990s the US State Department released papers showing the CIA were aware of a plot to kill the president.

In a period where destabilization attempts against progressive governments across Latin America are again taking place, this award-winning documentary shines a light on the circumstances behind the death of the man Rafael Correa described as an ‘extraordinary president’ who had he lived, would have changed the course of history in Latin America. A must-see for all those with an interest in the politics of the region.

Civil Society figures say no to destabilization in Ecuador

violencia

On Wednesday 17th September, a series of violent street protests took place in Ecuador. Centring on schools and universities in Quito, the disturbances resulted in injuries to 34 police officers (with no reported injuries to the demonstrators) and damage to historic public buildings. The violence is suspected to be a result of a far-right infiltration, and neo-nazi drawings were found at the scene.

The violence took place during a demonstration against proposals for a series of constitutional changes including measures that would allow President Correa to stand for election again should he choose to, and proposals for a progressive new labour law aimed at reducing wage inequality. If passed, the labour law will grant new economic rights for women and provide protection against discrimination at work for disabled people, African-Ecuadorians and the LGBT community. It will also set a new maximum wage to follow on from the measures already taken on banker bonuses.

President Rafael Correa has called the destabilisation attempts a ‘conservative onslaught’ designed to undermine a democratically elected government, and derail Ecuador’s Citizens’ Revolution. Describing it as part of an international movement to break progress in Latin America, he said the disturbances were: “A test to find out if they can do to us as they did to Venezuela: A ‘soft coup’, a long term war that consists in weakening the government with national and international support.“ You can watch a video of President Correa’s reaction here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYdYJHNVLQo

As in other parts of Latin America, Ecuador is faced with threats to its sovereignty due to external interference. A series of cables recently released shows repeated attempts by the United States to interfere with Ecuador’s government and oppose President Correa from the beginning. A cable from the US Ambassador in 2006 stated: “we have warned our political, economic, and media contacts of the threat Correa represents to Ecuador’s future, and have actively discouraged potential alliances which could balance Correa’s perceived radicalism.”

The events of 17th September stir memories of a violent coup attempt against President Correa on 30th September 2010. Carried out by a conservative section of the police force, the violence left eight dead, 274 wounded, and almost succeeded in toppling a democratically elected government. Sections of the mainstream private media had privileged information about the events and presented misleading information about the scale of support for the coup.

Since President Correa assumed office in 2007, Ecuador has reduced inequality four times faster than the average in Latin America, provided free healthcare and education to its citizens for the first time, and dramatically increased wage levels while reducing unemployment. Key to these gains has been taking on powerful vested interests on issues such as tax evasion, outsourcing, oil revenues and low-quality private schools. In a speech after the disturbances, President Correa said “Those who destroyed education are now talking about rescuing it, and those who allowed the theft of our oil, now call us traitors”

These tactics are designed to destabilise a popular, progressive government which, since 2006, has won ten consecutive elections including two presidential elections in the first round. The annual Latinbarometro poll places Ecuador first in support for democracy, fairness in the distribution of wealth and trust in the State, and approval ratings for the government are consistently over 70%. This is despite the mainstream private media consistently distorting events to portray a negative image of President Correa and the Citizens’ Revolution.

We therefore:

  • Condemn the violence perpetrated by right-wing infiltrators during the opposition demonstration, and condemn any undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional actions against the democratically elected and constitutional government of President Rafael Correa
  • Reject attempts by external forces such as the United States to undermine the sovereignty of the Ecuadorian people and destabilise Ecuador’s government
  • Express our support for President Rafael Correa and his democratically elected government, and commend the outstanding progressive social achievements of Ecuador’s Citizens Revolution.

Signed

Ken Livingstone
Chris Williamson MP
Grahame Morris MP
Neil Findlay MSP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
John McDonnell MP
Dave Anderson MP
Mike Wood MP
George Galloway MP
Lord Nic Rea
Lord Leslie Griffiths

Richard Gott, author
Ken Loach, filmmaker
John Pilger, filmmaker
Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist

Prof Doreen Massey, Emeritus Professor in Geography, Open University.
Professor George Irvin, Uni. of London, SOAS
Dr Peter Lambert, Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath
Dr Thomas Muhr, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol
Mike Cole, Professor of Education, University of East London
David Raby, Senior Fellow, Latin American Studies University of Liverpool
Dr Francisco Dominguez, Professor of Latin American Studies, Middlesex University
Dr Julie Hearn, Lecturer, Department of Politics, Philosophy & Religion (PPR), Lancaster University
Dr Steve Ludlam, University of Sheffield
Dr Ken Cole, Metropolitan University of London
Professor Bob Brecher, Founder of the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics, University of Brighton
Michael Derham, Senior Lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies, Northumbria University
John Gledhil, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, Manchester University
Professor Alan Freeman, co-editor, The Politics of Empire and the Crisis of Globalisation
Peter Hallward, Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University
Professor Francesco Pezzella, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford
Dr Elizabeth Moberly, research psychologist and theologian

Tony Burke, Unite Assistant General Secretary
Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the union & National Chair of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity
Mick Whelan, General Secretary ASLEF
Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions
Jenny Formby, Political Director of Unite the Union
Jane Carolan, Chair of NEC Policy Committee, UNISON Scotland
Heather Wakefield, Head of Local Government Service Group, UNISON
Aaron Kiely, NUS National Executive Committee

Dr Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary
Lindsey German, Founder of Stop the War Coalition
Bernard Regan, Chair of SERTUC International Committee and Secretary of the CSC
Colin Burgon, Chair Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair BARAC UK and PCS union NEC
Steve Hart, Chair of CLASS
Jayne Fisher, SERTUC International Committee
Juan C Piedra, Coordinador of Ecuador Movement in Uk
Enrico Tortolano, campaigner and researcher on Latin America

 

CANCELLED: Public meeting: Ecuador’s Economic Miracle – putting people before profit

Public meeting

We are very disappointed to announce that the public meeting on Thursday 26 June is cancelled.

The Ecuadorian Minister who was due to speak has had to cancel his agenda in Britain at the last minute due to issues with his visa to enter Britain beyond his control.

He will not be able to attend the meeting so sadly we have had to cancel. We are very disappointed and apologise for any inconvenience. We hope to reschedule the event in the near future.

In the meantime do visit our website, facebook and twittter pages for updates and analysis about Ecuador’s extraordinary journey putting people before profit.

twitter @friends_ecuador
web http://friendsofecuador.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofecuadoruk

Ecuador’s Economic Miracle
Putting people before profit

With Andrés Arauz, Ecuadorian Vice Minister responsible for economic and social development

Thursday 26 June, 7pm
Venue: Unite the Union, 128 Theobalds Rd, London WC1X 8TN (Nearest tube Holborn)

To register click here 

Ecuador is being today transformed by progressive policies that put people first. These are delivering free healthcare and free education, tackling poverty and creating a more equal society. 
Yet just over a decade ago things were very different. Then a massive banking crisis caused an economic collapse. Unemployment rocketed and one in ten people left their country to escape the crisis.
Ecuador’s Citizen’s Revolution – led by President Rafael Correa – has changed all this. Ecuador is today experiencing strong economic growth and even during the global economic crisis, there was no recession in Ecuador. Ecuador now has the lowest unemployment rate in its history. 
Challenging the ideas behind austerity economics, a huge programme of public investment is the motor of Ecuador’s economic growth and its building of a more inclusive society. Four times more is spent on health and education than a decade ago after Ecuador scrapped the illegal debt owed to international financial agencies and devoted this instead to public services. 
Ordinary people are benefiting from all this change. Ecuador has reduced reducing inequality faster than any other Latin America country in recent years through measures to ensure that wealthiest can no longer avoid paying taxes and by creating a nationwide Living Wage. 
As a result, the United Nations ranks Ecuador as one of the three countries in the world that has most advanced human development in recent years. 
All these changes are popular with President Correa and his coalition of supporters winning 10 sets of elections since 2007. 
Come and find out more about how Ecuador shows there is an alternative.
Organised by

Justice for Ecuador – join the global day of action against Chevron on 21 May

Dirty Hand of Chevron photo-call

Wednesday 21st May
5.45-6.15pm
Parliament Square, SW1A 0AA
(meeting point: Statue of Nelson Mandela)

Dirty hand

Oil giant Chevron-Texaco has been found guilty of causing one of the world’s largest environmental disasters in the Amazon area of Ecuador. Oil contaminated waste, jumped over decades, created a social disaster for the poor farmers and indigenous people who use the rivers for drinking and bathing.

Momentum is now growing behind the campaign for justice for Ecuador. Hollywood actors Mia Farrow and Danny Glover are the latest in a long line of supporters including Brad Pitt, Sting, Cher and Bianca Jagger. In Britain, musicians, artists, politicians, trade unionists, environmentalists and academics have been taking a stand. See http://friendsofecuador.co.uk/statementsignatures/

In a landmark legal case the Ecuadorian courts ordered Chevron to pay billions in compensation to the affected communities. But Chevron refuses to pay up. Instead it is spending millions challenging the legal rulings and is even seeking to make Ecuador responsible for any compensation. If successful, that could seriously harm public spending on health, education and other services.

On 21 May as part of a Global Day of Action against Chevron, we will be exposing this injustice by dipping gloved hands into Chevron-Texaco oil replicating the iconic symbol of solidarity made by celebrities, journalists and politicians who have visited the affected Amazon area and placed their hand into the oil polluted waters to reveal the truth about Chevron’s actions.

Join us on the Global Day of Action and demand justice for Ecuador.

10 key achievements of Ecuador’s Citizen’s Revolution

Ecuador is today being transformed by progressive social and economic reforms known as the Citizen’s Revolution. Led by President Rafael Correa, this is tackling the deep crisis caused by years of extreme and devastating free-market policies that were forced on Ecuador and the rest of Latin America.

President Correa was first elected to office in 2007 in the aftermath of huge turbulence in Ecuador. Seven different presidents had been replaced in a decade. A massive banking crisis caused economic collapse. Unemployment rocketed and one in ten Ecuadorians left their country to escape the crisis.

As we mark the seventh anniversary of President Rafael Correa being elected to office in Ecuador we look at some of the major achievements the Citizen’s Revolution has delivered in that time.

1. An expanding economy: even though President Correa came to office on the eve of the global economic crisis, Ecuador has grown by an average 4.2% over the past seven years.

2. Eradicating poverty is now a priority: over 1.1m have been taken out of poverty since 2007 with poverty down one third, from 37% to 26%.

3. Tackling inequality: economic growth now works for the majority with Ecuador having reduced economic inequality faster than any other Latin America country in recent years.

4. Free education for all: All children now get to go to school for free. University student numbers have also soared thanks to free university education being guaranteed in the Constitution. Ecuador now has the second highest levels of public investment in higher education in the world.

5. Healthcare for all: free healthcare is now guaranteed and three times as many medical consultations now take place than in 2006. Under President Correa, public health investment has totalled $9bn – three times more than spent by the previous four governments combined.

6. Tackling hunger: the proportion of underweight children has been halved and 40% fewer children suffer from stunted growth caused by malnutrition.

7. Decent work and a living wage: Ecuador now has the lowest unemployment rate in its history at 4.9% and the lowest in Latin America. For the very first time, the minimum wage now covers the value of a basic basket of goods, whereas it only covered 68 % of this in 2006.

8. Greater social protection: over 1.2m more families are now protected by social security than in 2006.

9. Huge public investment: Ecuador’s economic growth and greater social inclusion has been led by a programme of public investment works that are modernising the country. Public investment is up three fold to 15% of GDP.

10. Clamping down on tax evasion: Ecuador now raises three times more in taxes than in 2006. It has done this by clamping down on tax avoidance so that the wealthiest now pay their share.

These changes have been endorsed regularly at the ballot box. President Correa and his coalition of supporters have won nine elections since 2007 including a landslide 57% in the 2013 presidential election.

Download the leaflet outlining these achievements: 10 achievements of Ecuador’s Citizen’s Revolution.

British civil society calls for justice for Ecuador against Chevron

Below, Friends of Ecuador publishes an open letter from prominent signatories in support of the Ecuadorian people who have been fighting a 20 year legal battle against oil company Chevron. They are seeking compensation for the severe oil damage that an Ecuadorian court has found Chevron guilty of causing. You can add your name here.

Oil damage in the Ecuadorian Amazon

We deplore the on-going attempts of Chevron to avoid paying compensation to the communities in the Ecuadorian Amazonian severely affected by the oil giant’s dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste there over decades.
Between 1964 and 1990, oil company Texaco – which merged with Chevron in 2001 – caused one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters. The oil in the waste product dumped in the Ecuadorian Amazon over this period is estimated to be 30 times the amount spilt in the Exxon Valdez disaster.
This created a social disaster for the poor farmers and indigenous people living there by contaminating the rivers used for drinking, bathing and fishing.
Twenty years ago, tens of thousands of local people organized themselves and filed private legal actions to demand compensation. Twenty years on justice is still being denied.
After decades of campaigning, in 2011, an independent Ecuadorian court ordered Chevron to pay billions in compensation and remediation.  
But this corporate giant refuses to pay and reports indicate that Chevron is spending hundreds of millions of dollars – more than it has paid on any clean-up – on lawyers and political lobbying. It has even taken action against Ecuador seeking to make it liable for any compensation that Chevron must pay, a move that if successful could devastate Ecuador’s public spending on health, education and other services.
As we mark the 20th anniversary, its time Chevron compensated the Amazon communities for the vast damage it caused.

Signed
Ken Livingstone
Bianca Jagger
Baroness Sue Miller, Liberal Democrat
Natalie Bennett Leader, Green Party of England and Wales
Professors Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, co-authors of The Spirit Level
Brian Eno, musician
Chris Williamson MP
Peter Kennard, artist
Bruce Kent, peace campaigner
Owen Jones, writer and commentator
Linda McAvan MEP
Catherine Stihler MEP
Jean Lambert MEP
Claude Moraes MEP
Elaine Smith MSP, Member of the Scottish Parliament
Neil Findlay MSP, Member of the Scottish Parliament
John Finnie MSP, Member of the Scottish Parliament
Jenny Rathbone AM, Welsh Assembly Member
Julie Morgan AM, Welsh Assembly Member
Julie James AM, Welsh Assembly Member
Mike Hedges AM, Welsh Assembly Member
Mick Antoniw AM, Welsh Assembly Member
Darren Johnson AM, London Assembly Member
Grahame Morris MP
Baroness Jenny Jones and London Assembly Member
Michael Mansfield QC
Louise Christian, human rights lawyer.
Richard Harvey, Lawyer, Garden Court Chambers
Professor Bill Bowring, Barrister and School of Law, Birkbeck
John Hilary, Executive Director, War on Want
Nick Dearden, Director, World Development Movement
Tony Juniper writer, campaigner and environmental advisor
Sarah Burton, Director of Programme Functions, Greenpeace International
Rodney Bickerstaffe
John Williams, guitarist
Drew McConnell, musician
John Pilger, filmamker
Ken Loach, filmaker
Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist
Lowkey, musician
Linton Kwesi Johnson, poet
Dr Ha-Joon Chang, Economist, University of Cambridge
Professor Doreen Massey
Professor Robin Blackburn, author
Grazia Ietto-Gillies, Emeritus Professor of Applied Economics, London South Bank University
Dr Kaveh Moussavi Moussavi, Associate Research Fellow, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford,
Dr Michael Derham, Northumbria University.
Dr Steve Ludlam, University of Sheffield
Dr Julie Hearn, University of Lancaster
GC Harcourt, economist
Dr Francisco Domínguez, University of Middlesex
Dr Diana Raby, Senior Fellow, University of Liverpool
Dr Nick Potts, Southampton Solent University
Michael Joffe, Professor of Economics, Imperial College
Dr Andy Denis Department of Economics, City University London
Stephanie Pearce, Doctoral candidate, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Peter Lambert, University of Bath
Dr. Steve Keen, Author, Debunking Economics
Professor Francesco Pezzella Oxford University
Dr Julia Buxton, Swansea University and CEU Budapest
Andrew Simms, New Economics Foundation
Ann Pettifor, economist
Richard Gott, writer and author
Hugh O’Shaughnessy, author and journalist
Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU
Steve Turner Assistant General Secretary, Unite
Bob Crow, General Secretary RMT
Sally Hunt, General Secretary UCU
Gerry Morrisey, General Secretary BECTU
Megan Dobney, Regional Secretary of the TUC in London
Doug Nicholls , General Secretary GFTU
Tony Woodhouse, Chair Unite Executive Council
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB
Neal Lawson, Director Compass
Kate Hudson General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Sue Branford, Latin America Bureau
Maggie Bowden, General Secretary Liberation
Lindsey German, Convenor ,Stop the War
Martin Mayer, Unite Executive Council and Labour Party NEC member
Juan Carlos Piedra, Ecuadorian Movement in the UK
Matt Stanley, National Union of Students National Executive
Aaron Kiely, NUS Black Students Officer
Enrico Tortolano, campaigner and researcher on Latin America
Bernard Regan SERTUC International Committee Chair
Chris McLaughlin, Editor TRIBUNE.
Pablo Navarrete, film-maker
Ellie Mae O’Hagan, columnist

British MPs sign motion on justice for Ecuador against Chevron

Over thirty MPs have backed a motion in the UK parliament calling on oil company Chevron to pay compensation to tens of thousands of Ecuadorians, following a huge environmental catastrophe in Ecuador which a court found was the oil company’s responsibility.

The motion – backed by 32 MPs from 8 separate parties – was submitted in November as the campaign for justice of the Ecuadorian people reached its twentieth anniversary. In 1993 thirty thousand Ecuadorians launched a legal action against Chevron accusing it of causing severe pollution with devastating affects on the population. An Ecuadorian court found Chevron guilty in 2011 after a protracted legal fight but compensation has still not been paid.

Chris Williamson MP who submitted the motion said:“This is clearly a grave case of injustice. After 20 years of struggle, we need the world to shine a spotlight on Chevron’s actions and bring pressure to bear so that justice is finally served”.
The full parliamentary motion states:
“That this House notes the huge environmental and social damage caused by oil giant Chevron-Texaco in the Ecuadorian Amazon; further notes that Chevron-Texaco admits to dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon between 1964 and 1990; is concerned that this contaminated the rivers used by local people for drinking, bathing and fishing resulting in numerous health issues for the people living there; believes this is one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters with the oil dumped estimated to be roughly 30 times the amount spilt in the Exxon Valdez disaster; is concerned that Chevron-Texaco never carried out a meaningful clean up; congratulates the 30,000 local people who organised themselves into Amazon Defence Front and filed legal action against Chevron-Texaco to demand compensation; regrets that over the past 20 years Chevron-Texaco has not settled but used its financial advantage to oppose providing any compensation to the Amazonian communities; further notes that after decades of campaigning in 2011, an independent Ecuadorian court ordered Chevron-Texaco to pay $19 billion in compensation to the affected people; is concerned by reports that Chevron-Texaco has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in legal and lobbying fees to prevent compensation being paid; further notes that in contrast BP established a $20 billion fund to settle claims following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; and calls for Chevron-Texaco to settle the compensation payment to the Amazon communities for the damage caused.”

New Coalition in support of Ecuador’s Citizen’s Revolution launched.

A new coalition in Britain, Friends of Ecuador, was launched in October.
The group has been launched in order to raise awareness about the social progress underway in Ecuador and to build links between the Citizen’s Revolution in Ecuador and its counterparts in different sections of British society.
Ecuador is today undergoing a deep social transformation through the Citizens’ Revolution, led by President Rafael Correa, which is advancing incredibly progressive economic, social and environmental policies. These achievements are set to continue over the next four years following the landslide victory earlier this year of Rafael Correa in the Presidential election with 57% and a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary elections.
At its first meeting Friends Of Ecuador also laid out plans to speak out against oil giants Chevron’s attempts to avoid its responsibility for the environmental destruction caused in Ecuador.
The Coalition came out of a series of public meetings and public statements in support of the Citizens’ Revolution that showed a growing interest in the progressive developments in Ecuador.
The Coalition has been supported by prominent signatories including former London Mayor Ken Livingstone; Labour MP Chris Williamson; Welsh Assembly Member Jenny Rathbone; Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Europe’s largest trade union UNITE; prominent authors Robin Blackburn, Richard Gott and Hugh O’ Shaugnessy; the UK Green party and Maggie Bowden General Secretary of the social justice campaign Liberation.

 The aims of Friends of Ecuador are:
 ·        To provide accurate and up-to-date information in support of the expansion of democracy and social progress in Ecuador under the Citizens’ Revolution.
·        To build links between different sections of society and their Ecuadorian counterparts including between politicians, academics, trade unions, different  communities, students and others
·        To counteract media misrepresentation about the situation in Ecuador
·        To oppose any undermining of Ecuadorian sovereignty and any threatened military aggression or other foreign interference in Ecuador’s internal affairs
 
Referring to the launch of the Coalition, Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London said:
“Ecuador’s progressive policies are showing that there is an alternative to the failed neo-liberal model. Friends of Ecuador will help raise awareness about these inspiring development and build support for them in Britain”
 
Dr Francisco Dominguez, Joint Author of Right-wing Politics in the New Latin America: Reaction and Revolt said:
Whilst some governments in other parts of the world engage in cuts and privatizations, Ecuador is investing in its people, providing healthcare, education, jobs and a living wage for all.
Winning election after election, President Correa is showing that progressive governments can be democratic, popular and successful.
We have to ensure that people from all sectors of society in Britain – students, academics, politicians, trade unionists, women’s movements -get to know about these developments, and offer their support against those who seek to overturn this social progress as we have sadly seen so often over the years.”
 
Juan Carlos Piedra, Co-ordinator, Ecuadorian Movement in the UK
“Like thousands of Ecuadorians living in the UK, I am proud of the social change that is happening in Ecuador under President Rafael Correa. After decades of bad government, the majority now have a government that puts their needs first. I look forward to the Ecuadorian community living in the UK joining with others from across society to strengthen solidarity with the Citizen Revolution.
For more information contact friendsofecuadoruk@gmail.com
ENDS