Violence spread throughout the capital. Hordes of armed protesters patrolled neighborhoods imposing their law.
The nightmare became true. The scenes of the Chavista groups terrorizing the population of Caracas, absolute owners of the streets, taking out and vandalizing, moved yesterday to Quito. It was a day of terror. The violence, which had concentrated on the traditional sites of the demonstrations (colonial downtown, the immediate surroundings of the Assembly, strategic routes …) was spread yesterday throughout the city. Hundreds of militants and mercenaries, armed with sticks and stones, patrolled neighborhoods in vans and trucks, broken glass, hit vehicles, docked shops, gas stations and markets, threw burning tires from bridges to cars that circulated below, attempted to storm drinking water sources and threatened the city with depriving it of that service, invaded a hospital in Carcelén, destroyed public infrastructure, sidewalks, bus stops, poles, traffic lights, knocked down trees, threw molotov bombs and fired firecrackers with homemade weapons…
And in the epicenter of the apocalypse, the building of the State’s Comptroller General, secret target of the revolt, burst in flames, after having been undertaken and destroyed. Several kilometers to the north, protesters set fire to the Teleamazonas network antennas. Then they marched towards Ecuavisa. Only the curfew and the militarization of the city was able to stop them.
And while terror seized Quito and multiplied calls for peace from all sectors of society and politics were made, the opposition leader Virgilio Hernández promoted his own agenda from his Twitter account to radicalize the protest. «#GeneralizarLaLucha,» he said, «to prevent repression from concentrating at El Arbolito.» Open more fronts. Conform popular meetings, convene neighborhood committees and go outside. Columns of smoke rose from all sides and him, a short and bloodied Robespierre, with a lack of understanding, asked for more.
It was then that Salvador Quishpe, historical leader of the Ecuarunari party, finally broke out. The day before, he had delivered a dialogue proposal signed by the president of the Conaie to a UN representative but, almost immediately and against all logic, he was denied and disallowed by his own leadership. Yesterday, while on an interview at FM Mundo, he gave free rein to his discontent: «At this point in time,» he said, «I fear that the mobilization is not under the control of the indigenous movement, it is under the control of the opposition (former president Rafael Correa’s allies)“ He dropped names. He spoke of the members of the Mariategui collective, Taliban university students who, during the previous government, were bought with public positions to serve as shock forces. He mentioned the dean of Communication of the Central University. He said there were pressures from other sectors. He said there was money involved.
Quishpe’s statement came to confirm, for the first time from an internal source, what has been known since day one: that this is an attempted coup d’etat. The first indication was the unprecedented speed with which conflict was mounted. Because an indigenous uprising is a delayed process that involves a complex decision-making mechanism in the communities and an arduous task of raising funds and logistic organization. Before it has taken up to two months for the Conaie to organize a manifestation to Quito. In this case, it appears to have been ready to launch. The second indication was the looting of floricultural and dairy companies south of the capital, an unprecedented event in the recent history of indigenous mobilizations. The third, the attempted assault on the Comptroller’s building, on Monday, which made the revolt motives crystal clear.
What happened yesterday was the outcome of this script. The violent hordes took control. Quito finally realized what the work of bases of the opposition look like: the empowerment of proletarian lumpen to serve as shock forces and to apply a terror strategy. Those who received military training by Rodrigo Collahuazo to repel demonstrations (because Correa’s allies trained civilians to repress civilians); those who organized and rallied by Ricardo Patiño in a constant work of years … Ecuador feared and suspected its existence. Yesterday, finally, they came to light in a burst of fury. And they submitted Quito.
It did not help that the Conaie, through different press releases, took distance from the allies (Correa’s) claims and detached itself from the acts of violence when, in practice, it served as support. And with the Conaie, a multitude of militants, academics, left wing intellectuals; community media; human rights organizations that, at the service of others and political actors, have lost all sense of neutrality and have contributed to discredit and compromise the great cause of human rights, which is the cause of democracy. All of them brought the confrontation to social media, to alternative communication outlets, and played a preponderant role in this tragic: spreading fake news to exacerbate spirits; assembling the word and manipulating the language to extremes in which any possibility of interlocution became impossible, providing a blind sight in the face of street violence and loading the inks in the repression of the Government against a supposedly helpless people.
Excess of violence from the Police? There was and it was all documented to the point of exhaustion, in particular cases of violent detentions in which members of the public force continued to brutally beat people who had already surrendered, raised their arms or layed on the ground and offered no resistance. An intolerable procedure that Minister María Paula Romo had justified for months. And worst of all: the inexplicable attacks on the shelters that served as a refuge for indigenous women and children who arrived (because that’s the nature of indigenous mobilizations) accompanying the marchers. On Tuesday, the eviction of El Arbolito Park with an unusual amount of tear gas was brutal, unnecessary and unpublished. On Wednesday, the attack on universities brought more of the same.
Nonetheless, to focus repression, in a moment when the country and the city are responding to the systematic application of a political strategy based on terror and violence, means taking a leap mediated by political myopia, blind militancy, naivety or opportunism. Even more when considering the permissiveness demonstrated by the public force in some episodes. In no country in the world, a multitude of demonstrators is able to enter the National Assembly, in the middle of a state of exception, to top it off, without the Army or the Police shooting a single shot. And that happened on Tuesday. And when the demonstrators were finally repelled and evicted, as it had to be done, with tear gas and use of persuasive force (no victim reported that day), the militant media, human rights activists, Twitter intellectuals, cried to the heavens: «Repression, repression, horror, horror.» A free (but profitable) victimization and an absolute misunderstanding of how things work in a state of law, in which, if the public force holds the monopoly of violence, it is to exercise it. And if a protester throws stones or shoots firecrackers, he has to be willing to break down. And without complaining. «Massacre in Quito», «They are killing us» … The tags and labels used by militants on social media were not only incendiary but straight up lies.
That’s the view the country has ahead: a violent and empowered proletariat lumpen that has already tasted the glory of undertaking a capital city. An urban militancy willing to close their eyes and guarantee any barbarism while serving their cause. An organizational apparatus for the defense of human rights without the slightest credibility. A «militant journalism», if such a thing is possible, fanatic and positioned. This crisis will be overcome. But the degree of decomposition of the Ecuadorian left will continue to weigh on the future.
Salvador Quishpe finally broke out: «At this point,» he said, «I fear that the mobilization is no longer under the control of the indigenous movement, it is under the control of correism.»
It didn’t help that the Conaie, on its press releases, took distance from the opposition’s pretensions and violence when, in practice, it has served as its support.
Source: Newspaper Expreso