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 2 - “Left-wing” support for right-wing coups in Latin America
Yaku Pérez Guartambel says he wants Ecuadorians to use fewer cars and plant more trees. With campaign photos often showing him riding a bicycle at rallies, Perez’s image seems custom tailored to appeal to the sensibility of Western green activists.
Pérez is especially critical of the Correista movement for its reliance on extraction. He has proposed an end to mining in Ecuador and a restriction of oil extraction.
Ecuador is a developing, formerly colonized country and thus relatively poor compared to Global North imperialist nations. But it has an advantage: large oil and mineral reserves.
These resources have been key to the political and economic program of Correa and his followers, who used them to turbocharge development of Ecuador, fund popular social programs, and invest billions of dollars in universal healthcare, high-quality education, and advanced infrastructure.
Yet the supposed progressive appearance of Pérez’s political program ends with his environmental policies. When it comes to international politics, he has shown himself to be deeply right-wing.
And while Pérez uses his Indigenous Kañari heritage to claim to represent Ecuador’s Native communities, many are in fact strongly against him and his party.
Indigenous outrage against Pérez especially grew when he supported the US-backed military coup in Bolivia in November 2019.
In October 2020, Evo Morales’ Indigenous-majority Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party won the election in a landslide, defeating the US-backed coup regime. Numerous Ecuadorian Indigenous leaders were invited to the inauguration of MAS President Luis Arce, but Pérez was not. When asked why, it was made clear that Pérez was shunned because he had supported the coup.
Even before the violent regime-change operation, Pérez was a harsh critic of Morales, accusing him and Correa of “authoritarianism, machismo, extractivism, and populism.” Pérez flatly refused to recognize the legitimacy of Evo’s government.
In 2017, Pérez attacked Evo again, tweeting, “His ignorance is encyclopedic. Evo is biologically Indigenous; in terms of his identity he whitewashed and colonized himself and doesn’t feel or understand the Native cosmovision.”
After backing the coup, Pérez went silent about Bolivia, saying nothing as the junta, led by racist Christian extremists, massacred Indigenous protesters they dehumanized as “satanic.”
But the coup in Bolivia is not the only US-led regime-change campaign in Latin America that Yaku Pérez has supported.
In November 2016, Pérez praised the US-backed soft coup that removed Brazil’s left-wing Workers’ Party government from power, while endorsing a right-wing “lawfare” (legal warfare) campaign that had targeted Argentina’s progressive President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Pérez also openly called for Ecuador’s leftist President Correa and Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolás Maduro to be overthrown.
“Corruption ended the governments of Dilma [Rousseff] and Cristina,” Pérez tweeted approvingly. “Now all that’s missing is for Rafael Correa and Maduro to fall. It is just a matter of time.”
Pérez condemned the socialist governments of Correa in Ecuador and Maduro in Venezuela as “colonial, ethnocidal, and racist.” And he denounced the elected left-wing governments in Venezuela and Argentina as “authoritarian, extractivist, and corrupt.”
Pérez resorted to the kind of superficial anti-Venezuela rhetoric favored by the Latin American right-wing once again on the day of the February 7 election. In a friendly interview with a conservative media outlet, Pérez denounced the leading leftist presidential candidate, stating, “Rafael Correa, as Chávez did giving power to Maduro, today he is trying to give power to Andrés Arauz. Arauz is the Maduro of Ecuador.”
In 2017, when Brazil was ruled by the unelected neoliberal coup government of Michel Temer, Pérez publicly expressed hope that former left-wing Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff would be arrested, alongside Correa and his former Vice President Jorge Glas. (Ecuador’s US-backed Lenín Moreno government did arrest Glas and throw him in prison on bogus charges, as part of an authoritarian crackdown on leftist Correista politicians.)
In the same vein, Pérez supported a brutal US-backed coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018.
After right-wing extremists, with support from Washington, spent months murdering, torturing, and terrorizing supporters of the socialist Sandinista Front, Pérez responded by blaming all of the violence on Nicaragua’s elected left-wing government.
“Who would have thought that the Sandinistas that before fought against the dictatorship are now shooting their people,” Pérez wrote in October 2018.
Everything Pérez has said about Ecuador’s neighbors shows that, if he were to take power, he would help Washington and the region’s right-wing oligarchs wage war against the so-called Pink Tide, the wave of leftist governments that won power in Latin America starting in the early 2000s.