'14 Million: Life, Family & Liberty’ Movement Sparks Controversy in Ecuador

The citizen initiative “14 million- Life, family and liberty”” [es], which opposes the free distribution of the day-after pill and other forms of family planning policy, has caused controversy among Ecuadorians.

Those involved in this initiative say that parents’ right to choose education for their children according to their values and principles has been ignored. They also denounce the intention to introduce laws that threaten the definition of marriage between men and women, changing the word “sex” with “gender” in citizen identification cards.

The group names these and other points in a video [es] inviting citizens to participate in a “great gathering for family, life and liberty.” The gathering took place on May 19, 2013 in the cities of Quito, Santo Domingo y Guayaquil. The YouTube channel Fourteen million [es] shared the video:

On May 18, President Rafael Correa rejected the actions of the “14 million” movement. The newspaper El Tiempo [The Times] [es] published some of Correa's declarations:

“No es verdad, como pretenden hacer creer estos señores, que a un niño de doce años se le regalan anticonceptivos. Esa es una mentira monstruosa” y de “mala fe”, enfatizó Correa, un mandatario de izquierda que también se declara “católico practicante”.

Señaló que el grupo “14 millones”, que es la cifra redonda de habitantes en Ecuador, “no tiene personería (validez) jurídica” y dijo sospechar que detrás de ella “están todos los opositores al Gobierno”.

“It is not true, as these people want to make you believe, that a 12-year-old child will be given birth control. It is a monstrous lie” and in “bad faith,” emphasized Correa, a leftist who describes himself as a “practicing Catholic.”

He stated that the “14 million” group, which refers to the the approximate number of people in Ecuador, “does not have an official, valid status” and said he suspected that “those who oppose the government are behind it.”

Isabel Maria Salazar, national director of the “14 million” movement, said in an interview for the Ecuavisa channel [es] that they are not in favor of or opposed to any political party:

“Nosotros somos una auténtica iniciativa ciudadana donde estamos varones, mujeres, jóvenes. No queremos que esto se vea como una manifestación a favor o en contra de determinadas posiciones políticas, más bien estamos preocupados porque se le ha dejado a la familia de lado en varios proyectos de educación, y también en aquello que corresponde a la salud.”

“We are an authentic citizen initiative in which we are men, women and youth. We do not want to be seen as a manifestation in favor of or against determined political positions, but more so we are worried because family has been left to the side in various education projects and that also relates to health.”

Salazar further showed her rejection of the free distribution of the day-after pill [es] without parental consent, stressing that according to article 29 [es] of the constitution of Ecuador, parents have “the right to choose for their sons and daughters an education in line with their principles, beliefs and teaching methods.”

Days before the gathering, the group released a pamphlet featuring the stamps of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference [es], the Archbishop of Quito [es], the the Pro-Life Action Foundation [es] and others.

However a letter signed by Mateo López, deputy secretary general of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, later clarified that “the use of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference stamp in '14 million’ movement materials has not been authorized by this conference and appears against its wishes, which were expressly communicated to the organizers.”

Silvia Buendía (@silvidabuendia) [es] shared the image on the “14 million” pamphlet:

@silvitabuendia: Lean todos pic.twitter.com/Um6TmNGYp1 esta es la carta de los 14Millones. Ojo católicos, la firma la Conferencia Episcopal Ecuatoriana BKLrvtVCAAA5RKj

@silvitabuendia [es]: Everyone read pic.twitter.com/Um6TmNGYp1 this letter from 14 million. Look Catholics, the stamp of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference

Then she apologized and shared the letter from the Episcopal Conference:

@silvitabuendia: Me disculpo con la Conferencia Episcopal, ayer me escandalicé d q firmaran la carta d los @14Millones pic.twitter.com/9BPOUXF36j era mentira BKb910yCIAEHMs7

@silvitabuendia [es]: Forgive me, Episcopal Conference. Yesterday I was scandalized that you had signed the letter from the @14Millones [14 million] pic.twitter.com/9BPOUXF36j It was a lie.

The citizens that support the initiative -@14millones [es] on Twitter- comment with the hashtags #14millones [14 million] and #19mporlafamilia [19 million for family].

Loli Andrade (@loliandradem) [es] stated her support for the May 19 gathering:

@loliandradem: @14millones HOY defiendo la vida mas q nunca con paz, alegria t amor x la vida y la familia! Soy de gquil pero stoy en Quito y aun asi voy! 

@loliandradem [es]: @14millones [14 million] TODAY I defend life more than ever with peace, joy, love, life and family! I'm from Guayaquil but I'm in Quito and I still go! 

While Jose D'María (@JoseMatamoros_) [es] wrote about the rights of children:

@JoseMatamoros_: Regresando a Cuenca a exigir los derechos de la familia y los niños #19mporlafamilia #14millones @14Millones

@JoseMatamoros_ [es]: Returning to Cuenca to demand the rights of family and children #19mporlafamilia [19 million for the family] #14millones [14 million] @14Millones [14 million]

Rafael Silva (@_RBSILVA) [es] also showed his support of “14 million:”

@_RBSILVA: Para eso hemos sido entrenados, defenderemos la verdad y no se nos arebatara el fuego q en nuestra sangre esta! @14Millones #19Mporlafamila

@_RBSILVA [es]: For that we have been trained, we will defend the truth and not lose the fire in our blood! @14Millones [14 million] #19Mporlafamila [19 million for family]

However, there also exists opposition to the movement, in part because they chose to call themselves “14 million,” the number of people in Ecuador, and many do not feel represented by the ideas of the group.

Under the hashtag #YoNoSoy14Millones [I am not 14 million] various users separate themselves from those that defend the movement. This includes Jaime Tamariz (@JaimeTamariz) [es]:

@JaimeTamariz: Somos 6.676.120.288 de personas distintas/diversas tratando de encontrar la felicidad en nuestra efímera vida #YoNoSoy14Millones

@JaimeTamariz [es]: We are 6,676,120.288 diverse and different people trying to find happiness in our ephemeral lives #YoNoSoy14Millones [I am not 14 million]

Majito Lasso (@majitolasso) [es], for his part, shared his opinion about being “pro-life:”

@majitolasso: Ojalá se escandalizaran de la violación y el femicidio, no de derechos sexuales y reproductivos. Eso sería provida #yonosoy14millones

@majitolasso [es]: I hope that they're scandalized by rape and female infanticide, not sexual and reproductive rights. That would be pro-life #yonosoy14millones [I am not 14 million]

In a similar manner, Mónica Pazmino (@justmonique1981) [es] wrote:

@justmonique1981: Cuando inculcen [sic] amor y tolerancia hablamos amigos fundamentalistas Provida #YoNoSoy14Millones

@justmonique1981 [es]: When they instill love and tolerance we talk, friends, of fundamental pro-life. #YoNoSoy14Millones [I am not 14 million]

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