Ecuador: Bloggers Analyze Truth Comission Report

On May 2007,  a Truth Commission [es] (TC) was created by presidential decree; its purpose is to investigate and collect information on human rights violations attributed to the security forces in the last 25 years. This past May 7, after three years, the Truth Commission handed out its report [es] to President Rafael Correa, which included 831 human rights violations affecting 456 victims between 1984 and 2008. Bloggers have analyzed the report from different points of view.

While President Correa has acknowledged that there are “some setbacks [es]” regarding violence in his administration, he has warned the police and the military that they are not forced to obey orders that violate human rights. According to law, the investigation will begin with a Preliminary Inquiry [es], said State General Attorney, Washington Pesantez. The state will issue a specialized unit of prosecutors and operational staff to investigate the alleged crimes from the report.

Head of the Ecuadorian Truth Commission at work. Photo by Guillermo Sornoza used under Creative Commons license.

Most of the violations (68%) relate to the period where the Conservative government of León Febres Cordero (1984-1988) was in power. Lillie Langtry of Memory in Latin America says she is baffled by the “so-called truth commission” the Associated Press refers to. But she also summarizes the key findings in the report:

» Between 1984 and 2008 there were 456 confirmed victims of human rights violations in Ecuador (clearly, there will have been more, but a TC always has budget and time limitations and is also only mandated to investigate particular crimes – in this case essentially murder, disappearance, and torture).
» Over half of these took place during the Presidency of León Febres Cordero in 1984-88.
» The Commission identified 32 instances of extrajudicial execution, 12 attempted homicides, 9 cases of forced disappearance, 214 illegal deprivations of liberty and 275 victims of torture.
» The report blamed police for 50 percent of human rights abuses, the military 28 percent, government officials 10 percent, court officials 6 percent and foreign agents 6 percent.
» The Commission found that the government consistently overstated threats from rebel groups and that the abuses were not isolated occurrences but part of a consistent counterinsurgency strategy.

Assembly woman Maria Paula Romo [es] states that this report is not yet a judicial decision or ruling, but rather a gathering of information and data from one part of Ecuador's democratic history. What she does not mention is that the TC could fulfill its job thanks to cooperation from the Armed Forces and the Security Council of the USA, who provided at least 30,000 pages to the TC [es] for this case, as well as the National Police of Ecuador [es], which has played along to deliver another 250,000 pages which are part of its secret files.

There are Ecuadorians, however, who question the report. Blogger Victor Vizcaino of La plegaria de un pagano [es] quotes former Police chief, General Edgar Vaca, who denies torturing anyone and claims that the report is biased, and that the investigation of the police in criminal matters is a technical matter and interrogation acts do not constitute torture.

However, blogger Vizcaino adds his opinion saying that there is a difference between similar commissions in other countries. He says that in this case, what some groups seek is to make big money as a result [es]: ex-guerrillas members like Alfaro Vive Carajo and Montoneras Patria Libre [es] will receive a compensation of 50,000 dollars imposed as a standard fee, to pave the way for their dream to sue the state for millions of dollars.

Blogger Saulo Ariel of La cueva de Saulo [es], also thinks the report is biased and he writes why this commission should be called after president Correa, the Correa’s Truth Comission because, according to Saulo, they look for their own truth and not the real one. He challenges the reputation of the president of the commission, Elisie Monge:

[Ella es] una persona que ha estado vinculada con las asociaciones y negocios socialistas o seudo comunistas dirigidos a proteger a sus brazos armados, a sus grupos de choque, en su enfrentamiento fratricida con los grupos violentos del conservadorismo. Persona que hace gala de un humanismo siniestro cuando se desgañita en favor de los derechos de los delincuentes contumaces, mientras ignora la violencia que sufren las víctimas inocentes; actividades inmorales encubiertas con el disfraz de activismo a favor de los Derechos Humanos. Una persona de ese calibre, nada tiene que hacer en una Verdadera Comisión Investigadora.

[She is] a person who has been involved with associations and socialists business or pseudo communists aimed at protecting their armed sectors [and] their repression troops in the fratricidal confrontation with the violent groups of conservatism. A person who boasts of being a humanist when at the same time she shouts out in favor of rights for recalcitrant criminals, while she ignores the violence suffered by innocent victims; uncovered immoral activities under the disguise of activism for human rights. A person of that caliber has nothing to do in a Real Investigating Committee.

Guillermo Sornoza of El Ecuador de Hoy [es], has never sympathized with Correa, but he thinks that it is because of this “state violence” that crime has not flourished in the country:

Honestamente hablando, gracias a esos “excesos”, no se permitió que germine la semilla del terrorismo aquí en el país. No me malinterpreten: no apruebo los métodos, no me gusta la violencia (solamente en los juegos de video), pero como dice Uribe: no eran angelitos.

Honestly speaking, it was because of these “excesses” that seeds of terrorism were not allowed to germinate here at home. Do not get me wrong: I do not approve of the methods, I do not like violence (only in video games), but as president Uribe says: They were not little angels.


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