Ecuador’s presidential candidate Yaku Pérez supported coups in Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. His US-backed party Pachakutik and supposedly “left-wing” environmentalist campaign is being promoted by right-wing corporate lobbyists.
by Ben Norton
Part 4 - US-backed “ecosocialists” ally with right-wing in coup attempt against Rafael Correa
The deployment of ostensibly progressive “environmentalist” talking points to destabilize left-wing governments in Bolivia, Venezuela, Mexico, and beyond was developed over a decade ago, to weaken the democratically elected government of Ecuador’s former socialist President Rafael Correa.
To undercut Correa, the United States and Western European governments funded civil society groups in Ecuador that claimed to support environmental causes and indigenous rights, but ended up serving as tentacles of the right-wing opposition.
Throughout their tenures in office, Ecuador’s Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales faced heavy opposition to their ambitious infrastructure initiatives. Environmentalist and indigenous groups, many supported by the United States, initiated widespread protests in 2011 to try to stop the construction of a large highway in Bolivia, with similar demonstrations to obstruct mining projects in Ecuador in 2012.
Cables from the intelligence firm Stratfor, known as the “shadow CIA,” that were published by WikILeaks show that the US government contractor was carefully monitoring anti-Correa protests, and specifically named Pérez Guartambel, then known as Carlos Pérez, in 2011.
The most extreme attempt at destabilizing Correa’s government came with a violent US-backed coup attempt on September 30, 2010. Defectors from the Ecuadorian police and military occupied the parliament, blocked major streets, took over state institutions, and effectively kidnapped Correa.
Five people were killed in the attempted putsch, and hundreds were wounded. Ecuador’s opposition nearly succeeded in removing the elected president from power.
One of the main organizations involved in this coup attempt was the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE). CONAIE is an indigenous organization that advances an ultra-leftist, anarchist-inspired politics that is deeply suspicious of the state and industrial development, even if the government is led by a democratically elected socialist.
CONAIE took a hardline position against Correa, hammering him constantly and demanding his removal. This undercut Correa’s support from leftists abroad and drove criticism of his Citizens’ Revolution movement.
What CONAIE did not acknowledge in its constant attacks on Correa was that its political wing was heavily supported by the US government.
Indeed, CONAIE’s de facto political arm is the party Pachakutik, whose 2021 presidential candidate is Yaku Pérez.
During the September 2010 coup attempt, Pachakutik published an open call for Correa to be removed from power, expressing public support for the police and soldiers who had defected. Pachakutik sent out a press release accusing Correa of a “dictatorial attitude,” and Pachakutik leader and National Assembly member Cléver Jiménez “called on the indigenous movement, social movements and democratic political organizations to form a single national front to demand the exit of President Correa.”
The Pachakutik press release stressed that “Jiménez backed the struggle of the country’s public servants, including the police troops who have mobilized against the regime’s authoritarian policies.”
Journalist Eva Golinger later showed how Pachakutik had been supported by the US government’s National Democratic Institute (NDI), a subsidiary of the NED regime-change umbrella that is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party and acts as a cutout for the CIA.
A 2007 NDI document showed that Pachakutik had been directly trained by the US government’s NDI, along with activists from Venezuela’s anti-Chavista opposition parties Acción Democrática and Primero Justicia, as well as Mexico’s right-wing National Action Party (PAN).
CONAIE and Pachakutik do not represent all Indigenous communities in Ecuador. There are major political divisions, and some communal organizations and leaders support Correismo.
The United States has a history of backing specific Indigenous organizations in order to divide Native communities. This strategy is far from new. During Washington’s terror war on Nicaragua in the 1980s, for instance, the CIA supported leaders from Nicaragua’s Miskito community in order to undermine the revolutionary Sandinista government.
The New York Times reported in 1986, “Some Indian leaders said they fear that their people could become like the Hmong and Meo tribesmen in Asia – indigenous people drafted into a war by the C.I.A. and later abandoned.”
Today the Miskitos remain politically divided, but there are some Nicaraguan Native organizations and leaders who support Sandinismo, just as there are Ecuadorian Indigenous groups that support Correismo.
In a 2019 report, Ecuadorian-Canadian writer Joe Emersberger exposed CONAIE’s role as a Trojan horse for the right-wing.
Virgilio Hernandez, a leader from Ecuador’s left-wing Correista movement who was forced into asylum in Mexico’s embassy following a brutal crackdown by the US-backed Lenín Moreno government, explained to Emersberger:
Since about the end of the 1990s and the beginning of this century I would say what is evident in CONAIE is that a current became dominant that we’d call a ‘conservative indigenist’ current that has put everything into what they call the ‘ethnic cause’ and left aside the causes of social movements and the left in the country. That explains … that in the last presidential campaign they openly supported the candidate of the oligarchy and the banks, Guillermo Lasso. It is very clear for almost two decades they lost course and have been useful to the oligarchic groups that have always rabidly opposed Rafael Correa and the Citizens Revolution.