President Guillermo Lasso explained the content of the amendments that he will propose through a constitutional referendum. The Minister of Government, Francisco Jiménez, formally presented the questions and their annexes to the Constitutional Court.
President Guillermo Lasso announced the content of the referendum that he wants to take to the polls. In the end, of the eight questions chosen by the Executive for its “citizen consultation”, all imply reforms to the Constitution.
Although the Government had anticipated that there would be some popular consultation questions, that is, public policies, this was not the case. Neither were the dozen questions put forward by the Ministry of Government.
In addition, the Executive would prefer that the issues be brought to the polls before the sectional elections on February 5, 2023.
The final document that reached the Constitutional Court, this September 12, 2022, for review and qualification, has the following questions:
The role of the Armed Forces
In the midst of the crisis of growing insecurity, President Lasso opens the referendum with a question so that the Armed Forces can collaborate with the National Police in the internal fight against organized crime and delinquency.
Since May 2021, a dozen of the 14 states of emergency decreed by the President have been, in large part, so that the military can support the Police. Whether in prison control, in citizen security or in the control of demonstrations.
The Executive has expressed the problem of not being able to dispose of the Armed Forces without a state of exception, as mandated by the Constitution.
Since the institution has the competence of “the defense of sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
For example, given the increase in violence in Guayas, the last state of emergency, decreed in August, is still in force and allowed the military to enter Socio Vivienda 2 , the most dangerous area of Guayaquil, to regain control.
The Montecristi Constitution prohibits the extradition of Ecuadorians regardless of the crime they have committed. This includes those related to transnational organized crime such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling.
For this reason, President Lasso argued that, in those cases, drug criminals should be allowed to be extradited.
The goal is that they can be tried in other countries where they have committed crimes, with “harder and more inescapable” penalties. Since the Ecuadorian judicial system has less and less credibility.
Along the same lines, the Government wants to change the functioning of the Attorney General’s Office, so that it does not depend on the Council of the Judiciary, which is in charge of selecting, evaluating, promoting, training and sanctioning prosecutors.
The objective of the third question of the referendum is “to guarantee the autonomy of the Prosecutor’s Office.” And that, from now on, it is the same entity that is in charge of its servers that make it up through a Fiscal Council.
The Prosecutor’s Office and the Judiciary have clashed on several occasions over problems related to the insufficiency of prosecutors, the autonomy of the first entity and service commissions.
Until the end of 2021, according to data handled by the Prosecutor’s Office, there were 828 prosecutors in the country. This represents a rate of 4.70 prosecutors per 100,000 inhabitants and a deficit of 573 agents.
The recommended rate for Latin America is eight prosecutors for every 100,000 people. And in the world the rate is 12 agents. Instead of moving forward, Ecuador has been going backwards on this issue. In 2018 the rate was 5.01 and in 2020 it was reduced to 4.70.
The Prosecutor’s Office was quick to rule on the matter. Although it is in favor of gaining more autonomy, the institution points out that the creation of a new council would hinder the intention, that autonomy must be a global concept. And it points out that its technical units are capable of taking charge of the respective tasks.
In 2021, Ecuadorians elected 137 assembly members and, according to the Constitution, for the following general elections in 2025, the number could rise to 152 assembly members.
This is because the rule says that the number of legislators must increase in proportion to the population growth of each jurisdiction. That change was planned for 2021, but it did not happen due to the lack of the census in 2020.
President Lasso pointed out that the Legislative function has not been in tune with citizen needs and that by reducing the number of seats to about 100, it will be easier to exercise citizen control over its members.
The proposal is that they be chosen according to the following criteria:
- 1 assembly member per province and 1 additional provincial assembly member for every 250,000 inhabitants.
- 2 national assembly members for every million inhabitants.
- 1 assembly member for every 500,000 inhabitants residing abroad.
In addition, in the extended institutional crisis of the State, the National Assembly also has its image and credibility on the ground. Corruption scandals, t-shirts and even alleged vote buying have progressively undermined the Legislative’s management.
The fifth question of the referendum targets the 272 political movements but leaves aside the parties.
In the midst of the permanent scandals due to the fraudulent affiliation of militants of political organizations and the birth and rebirth of political stores, the Executive proposes a control of its members.
“These do not guarantee citizen representation, nor an adequate participation of their members,” says the document.
And the President proposes that they have a minimum equivalent to 1.5% of the electoral roll of their jurisdiction and oblige them to keep a registry of their members periodically audited by the National Electoral Council,
The Participation Council
Finally, the campaign promise to eliminate the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control (Cpccs) did not materialize, because it would require a Constituent Assembly. But the President does propose a modification of his functions.
The objective of the Government is to withdraw the power to designate the control authorities, through public competitions, and return it to the National Assembly.
This in the midst of the crisis that has resulted from the delay and the inability to designate the majority of control authorities, who are extended in office for up to several years.
However, according to the same question and its annexes, these processes will also be meritocratic and will have observers who follow the appointment processes. In addition, the members of the Cpccs would no longer be elected at the polls, but also by the Legislature.
According to President Lasso himself, the idea is to ” eliminate politicking and manipulation in the selection of authorities.”
The penultimate question of the constitutional referendum seeks to create a water protection subsystem, which is part of the National System of Protected Areas, under state control.
“The consultation belongs to everyone and that must include our mother nature,” said the President and spoke of the call for global awareness of the droughts and the great forest fires in the world.
For this reason, according to the Government, the objective is to protect the water. This issue was also discussed at the dialogue tables with the indigenous movements, where extractivism in water sources was discussed.
The last question is also about environmental issues. It will seek that “the citizen who protects the environment can receive a well-deserved compensation for his services, ” explained President Lasso.
The State, as administrator of environmental services, ” will regulate their production, provision, use and exploitation “, indicate the annexes.
And the document adds that the State will also “define the guidelines and compensation mechanisms that individuals, communities, towns and nationalities receive for their support in generating them.”
Check here the document with the questions:
Watch the president’s speech here: