Despite human rights violations against Indigenous peoples and journalists, CANSEC promotes participation of Ecuadorean military at arms show

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Soldiers at the presidential palace in Quito, Ecuador following President Lasso’s dissolution of the Legislature. AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported: “The president of Ecuador dismissed the legislature [on May 17]… Armed soldiers surrounded the National Assembly in the capital after the move by President Guillermo Lasso, who had been locked in a showdown with legislators who wanted to impeach him.”

General Nelson Proaño, the head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, says that if violence erupts the armed forces and police “will act firmly.”

The New York Times adds: “Some human rights activists said they worry that Mr. Lasso’s power to govern by decree could open the door for serious rights violations, like using terrorism laws to target Indigenous organizations and other groups that might oppose him.”

Lawyer Lina María Espinosa says: “The executive branch governing by decree could continue to exacerbate and favor the interests of the banks, the oil mining companies and certain privileged sectors, to the detriment of the rights of the majorities.”

And Amazon Watch notes: “Shortly after the announcement, military and police publicly expressed their support for Lasso and surrounded the congress building. Communities in the Amazon reported an increase in military presence around oil wells.”

Lasso can now rule by decree for up to six months.

Ongoing concerns about human rights violations

In its report on the situation last year, Amnesty International noted: “Ecuadorian organizations reported that the response of the authorities to protests by Indigenous peoples over socio-environmental issues that began in June 2022 resulted in a wide range of human rights violations. These included arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force, criminalization and attacks on journalists and human rights defenders.”

Amnesty International adds: “On 14 June 2022, security forces arrested Leonidas Iza, President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), in Cotopaxi province. …On 21 June, security forces repressing a demonstration in Puyo, the capital of Pastaza province, fired a tear gas grenade directly and at close range at B.G., a Kichwa Indigenous man. He later died of his injuries.”

Their report also noted: “In June, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the use of violence against children by security forces during protests. It criticized the authorization to use potentially lethal ammunition, such as pellets, in addition to the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of tear gas.”

And earlier this year, Amnesty International further reported that President Lasso had put forward a reform that “would endorse the permanent use of the Armed Forces in public security tasks in the country.” Amnesty expressed their “concern about the draft reform, which in its view contravenes Ecuador’s international human rights obligations.”

Protest CANSEC, May 31

Despite this, a “CANSEC is Global” promotional video for CANSEC 2023 highlights twice the presence of Ecuadorean officials at CANSEC.

“CANSEC is Global” promotional video. “We’ve had the Ecuadorean minister on our booth.”

For information on the popular mobilization being planned against militarism, the relationship between arms sales and human rights violations, the manufacturing of wars to sell weapons, and more, please click here.

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