Ecuador is in the middle of a storm that has been hitting the region even before the pandemic. But vaccination has become for the government a wall that has been containing the demands of the different social sectors, who are showing little patience before the resolution of their demands.
Almost two months after the inauguration of Guillermo Lasso, the main offer of his campaign – 9 million people inoculated in 100 days – is being fulfilled. Vaccine diplomacy has worked because the Government has managed to get millions of doses of different brands to reach the country. And its alliance with private companies is being effective in terms of logistics and support. In this way, the President has gained oxygen in the face of a scenario that is beginning to become dense due to the complexity of the economic crisis.
Vaccine diplomacy in Ecuador
In less than two months, Lasso has already faced the first attempt to stop the agricultural sector, specifically from the rice growers, who have seen the price of the quintal fall from 100 pounds to less than USD 30 while the rice smuggled in from Peru is sold at a better price in the market. The Ministry of Agriculture has offered to resolve various demands of this sector in 150 days.
Another front that the Government cannot lose sight of if it thinks about governance in the medium and long term is the new leadership of indigenous peoples and nationalities that fell under the leadership of Leonidas Iza, who represents the most radical wing. The closest antecedent that determines the mobilization capacity of the indigenous movement is its protagonism during the social protest of October 2019. Lasso and Leonidas Iza are at opposite poles on issues of economy, state management and the environment.
Political management, foreign relations and pragmatism
It is not yet known how the government’s political team will function for various reasons. The main protagonist and who served as Minister of Government, César Monge, was replaced by Alexandra Vela, Due to the fact that he is going through pancreatic cancer that has him removed from the public sphere which has raised a wave of speculation. The ideological differences between the Government and its allies – Pachakutik and Izquierda Democrática – in electing the Assembly authorities are beginning to show the lack of a programmatic agenda. And the Government seeks to find the internal balance between the more neoliberal wing and a more moderate team with a social tinge.
Simultaneously with vaccination, The Government has underpinned its efforts to combat chronic child malnutrition, which places Ecuador in one of the worst positions in the region. The president’s watchword is a country free from malnutrition. Various business sectors, civil society organizations, international cooperation and advisers on the matter have gathered around this objective. However, at the moment there is no defined institutional architecture to carry it out.
The Government has underpinned its efforts to combat chronic child malnutrition, which places Ecuador in one of the worst positions in the region
Faced with the economic crisis and the events in neighboring Colombia, the government is being very cautious when making any decision. It has stopped sending a Tax Reform project and no controversial measure is known, much less sensitive. In this sense, although it has not yet faced a crisis and rather tries to approach different sectors, it does not have the resources to meet the demands. Hence, Lasso can seek an approach to multilateral credit organizations to solve immediate needs.
In foreign affairs, the government has clearly defined its position. There is a total distance with Venezuela and Nicaragua, and it has chosen to maintain a protocol relationship, not so close, with the ideologically oriented governments of the left turn in the style of Bolivia and Argentina. The president has expressed concern about what is happening in Colombia and has not made space in his comments to the political situation in Peru. However, he plays multilateralism to get vaccines, since he has said that they have no ideology. Pragmatic steps, rather than ideological.
The president plays multilateralism to get vaccines, since he has said that they have no ideology. Pragmatic steps, rather than ideological
In the same vein, along the lines that combines pragmatism and the identity of a statesman, the President has taken a singular step with the creation of the Undersecretariat for Diversities (generic sex) and has said that he respects the criteria of the Court Constitutional on the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, despite his conservative beliefs and his affiliation to Opus Dei. Lasso has earned the respect of diversity, those that have placed expectations on possible public policies that could favor them.
The government’s less than two months have passed in relative calm, especially considering that the country suffers a severe economic crisis, and went through a severe political crisis that began even before the pandemic. However, if the social sectors do not have effective responses to their demands, despite the lack of resources at the moment, the country could witness a new social outbreak.
*César Ulloa is a political scientist and communicator. (www.latinoamerica21.com)
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