Pazmino Interviews Former Ecuadorian VP Candidate

David Pazmino (DP): Can you tell me about the elimination of Congress by the constituent assembly?

Dolores Padilla Chiriboga (DPC). Representative for the Province of Pichincha in the National Congress: I think it’s an exaggeration by the president, because democracy requires the three functions of the state, and all are legitimate. I see a state constituted by the three powers working together, not in conflict, as it has been in the last decade. In the last constitution, a lot of the powers of Congress were eliminated. They gave more power to the executive branch of government. For example, congress is not allowed to remove government officials. But the current constituent assembly chosen has absolute power. This means that they will have to approve the annual budget, but all the laws that they pass have to be approved by referendum. This way, from the beginning, the constituent assembly has to find solutions to all the major problems confronting the nation.

DP: Does your party support the constituent assembly?

DPC: In 2005, La red ‘eacute;tica y democr’aacute;tica (The Democratic and Ethical Network) called for signatures to petition the government for a constituent assembly. About 500,000 signatures were collected, in order to call for a constituent assembly. Therefore, we were pushing for the assembly even before Congress approved it. We called for a new social agreement that will represent the current conditions in Ecuador in order to better serve Ecuadorian society and solve our problems.

DP: What do you think of the 2002 elections, when you ran for Vice-President?

DPC: It was the most important political opportunity that I’ve ever had in my life. I had the opportunity to work closely with the people whom I was going to serve. I ran alongside Le’oacute;n Rold’oacute;s for president. At the beginning, we didn’t have any economic or social support, but as the campaign went along, we picked up more and more support; we had a lot of people supporting us. Overall the campaign was a great experience to see the reality of the country and find solution to the problems the people confront every day. Most importantly, the country needed a democratic and ethical change.

DP: What actions would you have taken had you won the 2002 elections that differ from those of Lucio Guti’eacute;rrez?

DPC: I guarantee you that we would have been very different, because we had a program that collected good ideas, full of energy and ability to make a positive change in Ecuador. We were calling to the people to remember that Ecuador is a sovereign state, and the power of government is to strengthen the nation.

DP: Do you agree with removing the United States military base in Manta?

DPC: Our party says that first there should be a study to understand the positive and the negative effects of having the base. After that, we will make our decision.

DP: Is your party in agreement with the politics of President Rafael Correa?

We agree with the constituent assembly, but we do not agree on the social policy that has largely been based on subsidies. Subsidies are needed, but shouldn’t be the only policy. In international relations, the Ministry of International Affairs has opened new doors, and has strengthened dialogue with Colombia and Peru. There are more than 500,000 Colombian refugees in the country, and sadly Ecuador does not have the facilities to help them improve their lives. We also agree on Plan Ecuador, in order to improve the lives of the people that live on the Colombian border, and in order to improve our army against the guerrillas. We also agree with the new laws passed on autonomy for the indigenous communities. The bad thing is that the president is causing a confrontation between different parts of society, which we think is unnecessary.

DP: What do you think of Hugo Chavez’s affect on Latin America? What do you think about the union of South America, and the role of Ecuador?

DPC: The possibility of unifying Latin America is very interesting. We have many things that unify us: the language we speak, the culture, and many other things. Integration is necessary in order to have a strong voice against the influence of the United States. I recognize the initiatives of Chavez to form a bank of South America and a TV channel for South America. But the leadership that Chavez has taken is very authoritarian, and this can have bad effects in the long-term. Ecuador needs to open its borders to Asia, and become open to more economic partners. Ecuador, together with Latin America, has a lot to offer.

Note: Since the beginning of the constituent assembly in December of 2007, the national congress was abolished. A new referendum for the new Ecuadorian constitution will be called in May of 2008. This interview took place in June of 2007.

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