Why are members of the Guevarista Movement and indigenous leaders being prosecuted in Ecuador?


23 Dec 2022 23:06 GMT

Ernesto Flores, one of the defendants, asserted that this legal proceeding “constitutes persecution.”

This Friday, the trial against nine people, members of the Guevarista Tierra y Libertad Movement of Ecuador (MGTL) and indigenous leaders, was scheduled to begin in the Northern Judicial Complex of Quito, Ecuador; however, the hearing was not installed.

These people are charged with the alleged crimes of organized crime, human trafficking and recruitment for irregular armed groups, reported the Regional Foundation for Human Rights Advice (INREDH).

The nine accused are: Alexis Moscoso, Carlos Carguachi, Cristian Caiza, Ernesto Flores, Gabriela Gallardo, Juan Carlos Bustamante, Nelly Yacelga, Omar Campoverde and Silverio Cocha.

“I would ask you to wish us luck, but what really we want is that they wish us justice“, wrote Gallardo on his Twitter account this Friday.

Currently, five of the defendants —Bustamante, Campoverde, Yacelga, Carguachi and Cocha— are in pretrial detention in the Inca Prison, in Quito, and in Latacunga, Cotopaxi province. “It is expected that they will soon be released,” said INREDH.

The case

The cause dates back to last May 19, although there was a previous investigation since August 2021. That day, eight MGTL militants were arrested in an operation led by the State Attorney General’s Office (FGE).

The people were detained during simultaneous raids in the provinces of Imbabura, Pichincha and El Oro. On that occasion, the FGE indicated that, according to investigations, the group “made approaches” in communities in the provinces of Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and in the east Ecuadorian for “recruit people” irregularly and “form them militarily on the Colombian-Venezuelan border.”

“According to the complaints, there are Ecuadorians recruited with the offer of going to follow courses in Argentina and Mexico, who ended up in the camp of armed groups,” added the Prosecutor’s Office.

The FGE then explained that the evidence raised in the raids “includes firearms and ammunition“. Then another young man was linked to the cause.

Flores, a spokesman for the MGTL and one of the people who was detained, said that this judicial process “constitutes a persecution of social movements, political and ideological dissidence and social work.”

“With this, the government seeks criminalize social strugglewhich has carried out the movement for more than a decade in Ecuador,” he emphasized.

EL MGTL, in a publication it made on its social networks on Thursday, denounced that contrary to what was stated by the FGE, in the raids the Police only found “books, flyers, flags, drums, wooden shields.”

Rosa Bolaños, INREDH’s legal adviser, considers that it is “quite objectionable” that the trial stage has been reached, since, she said, “from the beginning irregularities in the processwhich even affect the right to due process and the right to defense”.

In addition, he pointed out that “the arbitrariness” of the FGE is evident “by criminalizing left-wing social movements and protests.”

“In this sense, this procedural stage will emphasize this problem in order to obtain a favorable sentence,” Bolaños emphasized.

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