Statement on the State of Emergency Declared by Ecuador's President Lasso | Amazon Watch
Amazon Watch

Amazon Watch Statement on the State of Emergency Declared by Ecuador’s President Lasso

October 20, 2021 | For Immediate Release

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On October 18, 2021, the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, declared a “state of emergency.” Lasso claimed this decision was due to the increased rates of violence due to drug trafficking. He also mobilized the Ecuadorian military to deploy on the streets alongside the nation’s police.

The president also announced the creation of a “committee for the legal defense of the security forces” to defend military and police who could be prosecuted for excessive use of force against the public. Lasso said: “The law should intimidate criminals, not the police” and called on the police and military to act boldly.

The decree also imposes a curfew and restricts citizens’ political and civil rights, such as the right to assemble and travel, and it authorizes the domestic use of the military and escalating use of force to take control of the country’s security.

The state of emergency was declared as several nationwide protests were announced by Indigenous, union, and campesino organizations. Lasso’s decision also comes on the heels of the defeat of his economic agenda in Congress, which instead of creating opportunities would have ushered in regressive reforms to labor rights of workers, as well as other austerity measures that provide protections for vulnerable populations such as Indigenous peoples. The day before the emergency decree was issued, over 200 Indigenous people traveled from the Amazon to file a legal action before the Constitutional Court challenging Lasso’s executive orders to expand oil and mining extraction in the Amazon. Last month, the Pandora Papers exposé also revealed that Lasso maintained multiple offshore bank accounts, which has spurred an investigation and generated criticism of the right-wing banker.

Carlos Mazabanda, Amazon Watch’s Ecuador Field Coordinator, made the following statement about the state of emergency:

“We denounce the Ecuadorian government’s use of this State of Emergency as a pretext to quell opposition to its proposed policy reforms and silence Indigenous, union, and workers’ rights to peacefully protest. Such militarization has a clear purpose – to restrict the right of freedom of association, expression, and peaceful protest – which can lead to an escalation of violence and the criminalization of defenders of human rights and the rights of nature. We remind the Lasso administration that it must respect the standards that the Constitutional Court issued in 2020, which establishes that the state of emergency can only be issued ‘for extraordinary circumstances, but not for situations that can be resolved through ordinary political and legal means.’ This makes the current state of emergency unconstitutional.”

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