from Weekly News Update on the Americas

The 31 new judges of Ecuador’s Supreme Court of Justice were sworn in, along with 21 alternate judges, on Nov. 30 by Carlos Estarellas, president of a four-member commission appointed to choose the magistrates. Ecuadoran president Alfredo Palacio and Organization of American States (OAS) secretary general Jose Miguel Insulza attended the ceremony. Ecuador has had no functional Supreme Court since last April 15, when president Lucio Gutierrez dismissed the entire court and was himself ousted from office five days later. (ENH, Dec. 1 from AFP; MH, Dec. 1 from wire services; AP, Dec. 4)

In a surprise executive decree signed on Nov. 30 and released on Dec. 1, Palacio asked the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to call a voter referendum for Jan. 22 on whether to convene a constituent assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. The move led TSE president Gilberto Vaca to resign on Dec. 3, saying he would not “lend myself to violate the Constitution.” Ecuador’s Congress, which had been negotiating with the president over constitutional reforms, threatened on Dec. 3 to impeach Palacio if he moves forward with the referendum. (La Jornada, Dec. 2 from Reuters; El Nuevo Herald, Dec. 4 from AFP; Miami Herald, Dec. 2, 4) The constituent assembly is a key demand of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), which mobilized some 10,000 indigenous people to Quito Nov. 16-18.

On Dec. 2, in another unexpected and unexplained move, Palacio replaced three of Ecuador’s top military commanders in a brief ceremony at the government palace. Palacio appointed Gen. Nelson Enriquez to replace Vice Adm. Manuel Zapater as head of the joint command; Gen. Robert Tandazo to replace Gen. Jorge Zurita as head of the army, and Gen. Jorge Moreno to replace Gen. Edmundo Baquero as head of the air force. The changes came as Defense Minister Osvaldo Jarrin was on an official visit to Spain. (MH, Dec. 3 from wire services)

On Nov. 29, for the sixth time this year, 164 indigenous and campesino communities in the northern Ecuadoran provinces of Pichincha and Imbabura began blocking local highways to demand that the government release $50 million in funding for a drinking water project. The open-ended strike practically shut down Imbabura province and paralyzed traffic along the PanAmerican highway, which links Ecuador with Colombia. (Clajadep, Nov. 30 via Ecuador Indymedia)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 4


Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also WW4 REPORT #116


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Jan. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution