Andes region: government backers and opponents march on May Day

Thousands of unionized public employees marked International Workers Day on May 1 with marches in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador, joined by members of socialist president Rafael Correa’s PAIS Alliance (AP) party. (“PAIS” is the acronym of “Proud and Sovereign Homeland” in Spanish, and also spells the word for “country.”) Unemployment in Ecuador reached 9.1% in the first quarter of 2010, up from 7.9% at the end of 2009, while underemployment among the country’s 4.6 million economically active workers is officially at 51.3%.

In Colombia—where unemployment stood at 11.8% in March, down 0.2 points from a year earlier—thousands of workers marched in various cities calling for candidates in the May 30 presidential election to promote the creation of “more and better jobs and to halt the violence against unionists and society.” Confrontations between marchers and the police left some 15 people injured.

In Venezuela supporters and opponents of leftist president Hugo Chávez held separate marches. Supporters celebrated the achievements of Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution, while opponents demanded more democracy and respect for the rights of unionists. (El Nuevo Diario, Nicaragua, May 1 from AFP; Prensa Gráfica, El Salvador, May 1 from AFP)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 2.

See our last post on Latin America’s May Day mobilization.