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Why I Resigned as Ecuador’s UN Representative

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On January 4th, Guillaume Long resigned his position as Ecuador’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva. His letter of resignation, translated below, eloquently expresses dismay with Ecuador’s new president, Lenin Moreno, who is presently attempting an audacious power grab with the support of Ecuador’s private and public media. Background on Moreno’s betrayal of the progressive platform on which he won the presidency is provided in previous articles available on CounterPunch (here and here).

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I accepted to be your government’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations to contribute to the valuable efforts that Ecuador has been making in the multilateral sphere. I am convinced that one of Ecuador’s most important advances in recent years has been its role in the decision-making processes that affect the future of humanity. Ecuador has become a bulwark of progressive positions on human rights and the environment. It seemed essential, for example, to continue fighting for a treaty on transnational corporations and human rights. This universal cause, supported by numerous states and non-governmental organizations, and led by Ecuador at the United Nations, has been advancing steadily despite boycotts and threats by powerful interests. For me personally, it has been an honor and a great responsibility to chair the working group in charge of elaborating a binding instrument that seeks to abolish corporate impunity for human rights abuses.

Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot continue to represent a government that commits the type of abuses that I have witnessed over the past few months. I refuse to be complicit with authoritarianism, however poorly disguised behind a fictitious “spirit of dialogue”. It is therefore with great regret and concern that I am compelled to resign from my position as Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in Geneva.

This week marks the beginning of the campaign for the referendum you decreed unilaterally: an election that is not only unconstitutional, but a flagrant attack on democracy and the rule of law in Ecuador. I truly believe in the use of direct democracy to allow the people to decide on major changes in the country’s political future. Precisely because of the transcendence of this mechanism, it is essential not to dishonor it. Today we are facing a referendum that seeks to change the constitution without passing through the basic requirements mandated by our Constitution. The recordings that have emerged over the last few days, featuring discussions that took place during meetings amongst members of the Constitutional Court, reveal that there was a plot to prevent the Court from ruling on the unconstitutionality of at least two questions you presented. Your government’s disingenuous interpretation of the law, leading to the decision to bypass the Constitutional Court and call elections by decree, is neither a necessary evil, nor a minor procedural slip. It’s a serious assault on democracy and the rule of the law.  The brazen manipulation of the Constitutional Court and the National Electoral Council is in fact an ominous power grab that imperils the future of our country.

Along the same lines, the proposal to eliminate the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control (CPCCS) means the establishment of a transitional council appointed by you. This council will in turn name Ecuador’s judicial authorities and those responsible for state audit mechanisms and controls. Is this intended to enhance your power to persecute your political enemies? Whatever your political motivation may be, there are times when we must have the wisdom to overcome political acrimony and act to protect the future of our democratic institutions. This is one of those times, Mr. President, and I urge you to reflect upon that.

If your intention regarding the CPCCS is alarming from the standpoint of preserving the essential freedom of our citizens, our liberty, the proposal to eliminate the law on land speculation tax is disturbing from the perspective of equality, a cornerstone of Ecuador’s social contract. No politically progressive person can endorse a proposal to erase one of the most important laws of the Citizens’ Revolution. If you really want to reform the law, that is what the National Assembly is for – and where you now have the votes of the “ex opposition” at your disposal. But it seems that you have yielded to the demand of the banking and other oligarchic sectors who will settle for nothing less than a referendum to banish, for good, any inconvenient regulation on land and real estate. Such is the urgency of the elites to abolish this law, that you are cynically calling on citizens to vote in favour of their own subjugation to the forces of speculative capital. The Ecuadorian Left cannot be complicit to this manipulative and reactionary deed.

I am also concerned that, lacking any initiative of its own over these past months, your government has devoted itself almost exclusively to disparaging the works of its predecessor – to discrediting one of the most interesting and awe-inspiring political processes in the history of Latin America. It is easy to focus on mistakes that were made during an intense decade of public works. Surprisingly, however, your government has also sought to tarnish its most noteworthy successes, including one of the most remarkable achievements of the Citizens’ Revolution: the economic policies that allowed Ecuador to overcome the great external difficulties of 2015-2016.

This is not merely a personal tale of disloyalty, but rather the betrayal of an entire political project, one that exposed neoliberalism as an unjust and unwise pathway to development. Correa’s government demonstrated that an anti-austerity, post-neoliberal approach reaps benefits both when times are fair and when conditions are pressing. But as you have clearly understood, this historical example must be erased from the memory of the people. The Citizens’ Revolution must be destroyed, so that the ideological fatalism encompassed in Thatcher’s phrase that “there is no alternative” to austerity, inequality, and the individualism of neoliberal dogma, can be imposed once again.  As for those who proudly “rode with Correa” but now try to annihilate his legacy, it will be their responsibility – and I fear, penitence – to eventually reach their own verdict.

To disguise what is really at stake, it has been claimed that those of us who are worried about the direction of your government never intended to allow the new government to govern, that we have not been able to leave office in a dignified way, that we reject self-criticism, or simply that we have fallen prey to a cult of personality. If only this was about self-criticism. We certainly made many mistakes. Without a doubt, fighting the structural corruption that has afflicted Ecuador was a priority. It was vital to generate a more vigorous, autonomous, and ideologically coherent political movement. It was important to rebuild relations with certain social sectors that had moved away from the Citizens’ Revolution, more due to misunderstandings than fundamental political differences. It was necessary to improve government intervention in many areas and evaluate and adjust public policy.

Painfully, with the passing of time, we see that you are not seeking to improve or correct the errors of the Citizens’ Revolution. Your goal is to bury it. Each blow is calculated: weekly scandals carefully contrived by sinister spin doctors so that, little by little, behind the smokescreen of a contrived spirit of conciliation, you try to erode public support for the Citizens’ Revolution.

Mr. President, the modest victories you have achieved over the last few months are pyrrhic. After the referendum, when you have played out the role that has been assigned to you by the elites, the various political factions that temporarily support you will start devouring each other in their quest for power. History will not absolve you and I am confident that Ecuadorians will awake from their momentary confusion to discover that they have been deceived.

The honor of my life has been to serve Ecuador, to work with dedication for a progressive political project, without losing sight that our process responded to a historical context with specific conditions and circumstances. Seeing that your government seeks a return to a more pre-modern state, to backroom deals with elites, to bowing before plutocratic sectors and foreign powers, to first ladies delivering toys to poor children at Christmas, I realize that I must end my participation as a civil servant.

One’s conscience is the most precious asset. Mine compels me to resign.

Sincerely,

Guillaume Long

Translated for CounterPunch by Joe Emerberger.

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