The president of the National Assembly, Virgilio Saquicela, reflects on the political crisis that the country is going through and in an interview with Diario EL UNIVERSO insists on dialogue as a way out of moments of social upheaval. He does not believe that the removal of the president will deactivate the social protest, he is not in favor of that route or of cross death, he assures that he is not interested in being president of the Republic and that he will do the impossible so that the rule of law is maintained and that both Lasso and the Assembly continue in office.
What is the vision of what is happening, a country paralyzed for eleven days?
There is a social upheaval and there has been no capacity for dialogue between the parties in conflict, and it is known that there are a series of entities such as universities, the Church and 300 other organizations for that dialogue. We as an Assembly have done the same and we had a first meeting to look for that methodology for the thematic tables, but until now it has not crystallized, the days continue to pass and there are no signs of a solution.
Did the National Assembly make any rapprochement with the president of Conaie, Leonidas Iza?
Our theme was the meeting with the different forces, the idea was that a resolution would come out of that conglomerate to be able to convene the two parties; but they indicated that they had already advanced the dialogues to lead to it, but it has not happened. The Assembly will insist on dialogue and may even be the guarantor of compliance with the agreements that may be reached.
What makes you think that the Assembly can be a guarantor when it has been a scene of criticism and considered a discredited institution?
What happens is that it is the constituted power and the 24 provinces with the different political sectors are represented, whether we like it or not, and from there we start with the possibility of legitimation. I believe it is the moment for the country and for social peace where all the actors must intervene, but if it is not the National Assembly, let us look for alternatives.
Do you believe that the president should fulfill his mandate?
We believe in the rule of law, we believe in democracy and we are democrats, we start from the fact that the President of the Republic is the product of that popular vote and therefore he must fulfill his mandate, we have no doubt about that; at least in the National Assembly no other scenario or possibility has been considered, we have not discussed them, but rather being a place and a political power that is asking for dialogue.
But are there intentions to activate article 130 of the Constitution to remove the president due to a serious political crisis and social unrest?
There are figures that are in the Constitution, article 130 or 148 with cross death; however, I do not see cross-death as a pragmatic solution to defuse social conflict. If in the capital of the Republic we are with thousands of indigenous people and social groups that are claiming ten points, a cross death will not solve the issue.
Nor will the application of article 130 of the Constitution deactivate social protest?
I think not, because that would imply the dismissal of the President of the Republic and the Assembly will be able to remain for that short period of time; but I believe in a constituted State and in a Rule of Law and that is exhausted through dialogue, we aspire for it to happen and if not, it can escalate to a crisis situation where we do not know what this issue can trigger.
If tomorrow you are presented with a resolution to activate art. 130 of the Constitution, you will?
It is like what happened with the issue of the emergency decree, because if there are enough signatures and in this case an absolute majority to request, it is my obligation to include it in the agenda as I did, another thing is to resolve it. In this case, if it meets the corresponding requirements of the minimum number of signatures, it is my obligation to put it, another thing is that the majority criterion of 92 votes exists within the National Assembly so that a situation of this nature can progress, I do not think that let’s be on that stage; Neither has the Assembly talked about that, at least with me no one has talked about that possibility, but it is also a situation that is in the Constitution.
But you are not looking for the Presidency of the Republic?
No, I insist again, democracy, the rule of law and compliance with the popular mandate; For me, the President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, has to continue governing and seek to tune in with the social protests and with the criteria of the rest of civil society, and tune in with the political criteria that are given in the National Assembly. In the case that he asks me to assume the Presidency of the Republic, there is a succession in the assumption, for me not consented, that corresponds to the Vice President of the Republic.
If the application of article 130 of the Constitution depends on your signature and your vote, would you do it?
No, I will do the impossible to uphold the rule of law and to uphold what the Ecuadorian people ordered, which made it possible for Guillermo Lasso and the current Assembly to be in the instances of power.
Will there be a guarantee?
For me, the Assembly is the guarantor of the democratic system and under no point of view can we attack it; We insist again on calling for a dialogue, in a serious dialogue where the Executive and Conaie sit down, fundamentally, iron out rough edges and resolve, where the Executive tune in and review the fuel issue, which I think is the most critical point which has to be reviewed. I understand that national prices are lower than international ones, but the Ecuadorian reality is different from international realities, a consensus would have to be sought, because at the beginning there was talk of a targeting for the transport and productive sectors, but that corresponds to the Executive .
On what issues can the National Assembly contribute to solving the demands of the Conaie?
On the security issue that I have said, it goes through an open table between three powers of the State that are the Executive, Legislative and Judicial, and each one fulfills its role.
In all this process resulting from the demonstrations, there was a key moment in the Assembly, trying to lower the state of emergency decree. Didn’t that put the city at risk in the face of an escalation of violence?
The decrees must be framed in the Constitution and cannot violate rights; when the first one came out and then they said it was a draft that violated the rights of Ecuadorians because it was going to interrupt telecommunications, that all kinds of meetings were deprived, it was going to extremes. There was born the repudiation of that decree, but later the Executive itself repealed it. But with or without a decree, the problem is latent and does not guarantee that social protest will not occur.
Who is responsible for this escalation of violence?
Unfortunately it happens and taking advantage of the marches we reach the extreme of vandalism with vehicles, with damage to public and private infrastructure and even death of people, we do not believe that it should continue to escalate. The Prosecutor’s Office must act and clarify these issues.
Don’t you think that the National Assembly needs to make a firmer statement against this escalation of violence?
We are precisely addressing this issue where a statement will have to be made on these violent demonstrations, but for this social protest to go down there must be a harmony of the Government and in my opinion it goes through a review of fuel prices.
Do you think it is possible to lower the price of fuel?
I think so, because it is necessary that it be exactly in tune with the social problem. Targeting could be a tool, but the Executive will have to analyze it, and those who may be at the dialogue table as guarantors of it, may have a deadline for it to be met.
With the block chiefs, have you not been able to have a rapprochement with the Conaie leadership?
We have had several meetings with the block chiefs and we have spoken with the assembly members who have a direct relationship with Conaie, and we have asked for their good offices and we hope to have good results in the next few hours. The Assembly is operating, because we have also spoken with the head of the government bloc in the sense of calling for the possibility of dialogue.
Will it be controlled who finances the mobilizations?
There will be voices that have to clarify the issues and not only in the sense of the public force, but also about the excesses that have arisen. The investigation should not be persecution, but the clarification of the facts, but at this moment the fundamental thing is that the tone of the convulsion is lowered through dialogue. (YO)