Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Ecuador Divided over Correa’s Referendum

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on February 23, 2011

by Roque Planas for Americas Society / Council of the Americas, February 23rd, 2011.

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court last week gave the go ahead for a 10-point referendum that supporters say will help fight crime and corruption in the judiciary, but opponents deride as an attempt to consolidate power in the executive branch. Contentious measures contained in the referendum—including a proposal for judicial reform and restrictions on the business activities of the national news media—have divided the country and eaten away at Correa’s coalition. However, the referendum’s proposals may have enough popular support to become law. No official date for the vote has been announced, though the president of Ecuador’s Electoral Council Omar Simón indicated Tuesday it may be held in May.

The referendum asks votes to approve or reject 10 unrelated proposals, five of which would require amending the Constitution approved in 2008. Not all of them will shake the country to its foundations; one measure would prohibit killing animals for entertainment, which would end bullfighting and cockfighting. Another proposal would ban gambling.

Other provisions are more contentious. Currently in Ecuador, prisoners charged with a crime must be released after a year if they have not yet gone to trial. One of the most popular measures, according to a recent poll by SP Research and Studies, would do away with this restriction—a change that Correa says is necessary to fight increasingly high levels of crime. Security has become a concern for voters in recent years, with the murder rate doubling over the last two decades to 20 homicides per 100,000, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Philip Alston. (continue reading… )

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