February 12, 2010
Members of Ecuador’s opposition parties staged massive demonstrations yesterday in Guayaquil to protest the government of President Rafael Correa. The demonstration was called by Guayaquil Mayor Jaime Nebot in response to the federal government’s decision to slash the city’s budget by $17 million, which the opposition believes was a calculated moved designed to undermine officials from opposition parties.
During a 45-minute speech to an audience of an estimated 40,000 people Mr. Nebot called on demonstrators to, “fight to stop the dictatorship.” The mayor declared that protests would remain peaceful for now, but that they would oppose using any available means a shift toward what he called a “Venezuelan type failure.”
President Correa reacted immediately to the protests by criticizing Mayor Nabot’s management and stating that the city government “will not receive 20 cents more that what the law stipulates.” The president also accuses the mayor of being a pelucón (wealthy businessman) whose policies only benefit the rich elite and do nothing to improve a city facing high levels of poverty and unemployment.