Ecuador lifts emergency decree; will probe abuses

Ecuador has reached an agreement with human rights organizations and regional leaders and has lifted the state of emergency it decreed on Nov. 29 in the province of Orellana.

Dec 12th, 2007

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 12 -- Ecuador has reached an agreement with human rights organizations and regional leaders and has lifted the state of emergency it decreed on Nov. 29 in the province of Orellana.

The agreement calls for the creation of a commission to investigate charges of human rights abuses connected with the emergency decree, which came after protests shut down a key oil-production facility operated by Ecuadoran State Petroleum Enterprise.

President Rafael Correa decreed the state of emergency in the Dayuma region in order to control protests by local residents who were demanding public works projects.

At the time, Correa said, "What we have are organized mafias under the orders of political bosses who live for conflict and are the last ones who want things to be resolved."

Authorities arrested a score of people under charges of sedition, but Interior Minister Fernando Bustamante has said that authorities would determine if the army committed excesses at the time.

"If there has been any abuse of authority, evidence will be gathered," he said. "The commission will ensure that disciplinary measures are taken and compensation is made."

Justice Minister Gustavo Jalk nonetheless said he will act quickly to identify the people who were responsible for acts of sabotage performed around the Dayuma facility.

Last week, Ecuador appointed Navy Rear Admiral Fernando Zurita to head Petroecuador and deal with the emergency situation facing the state-run oil company (OGJ Online, Dec. 5, 2007).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

More in General Interest