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Mass Protests Halt Ecuador's Proposed Tax Hikes

MARCHA OPOSICION Guayaquil, 10 de jun (Andes).-Opositores al gobierno encabezaron la marcha en contra de la Ley de Herencias Foto: César Muñoz/Andes

Ecuadoran opposition demonstrators protesting against a proposed inheritance tax in Guayaquil. Photo: César Muñoz/Andes from the Flickr account of Agencia Andes under Creative Commons license.

A new legislative initiative by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is facing a setback this week, following protests in several cities and a visit from Pope Francis, who sought to calm the country's political atmosphere. President Correa's draft law would impose a progressive tax on inheritances greater than $35,400 and a 75 percent tax on “surplus profits” associated with capital gains and real estate.

Despite the problems with the legislation, President Correa first vowed to hold his ground. On June 15, after a week of protests, the President promised not to back down “one inch” from new taxes he says would affect only the “oligarchy”:

“Si me demuestran que las leyes de Herencias y Plusvalías afectan a los más pobres y a las clases medias, yo mismo pediré a la Asamblea el archivo de las leyes”. Sin perder el tono fuerte, manifestó: “¿Quieren sacar al presidente? Llamen a la consulta para la revocatoria y los derrotaré una y mil veces”, confirmó el medio móvil Fáctico.

If there is proof that the Inheritance and Capital Gains laws affect the extremely poor and middle class, I myself will ask the [National] Assembly for the archive of the laws. […] You want to remove the president? Call for a referendum and I will come out on top time and again.

Two hours after this announcement, however, Correa's position changed. That night, in his “Message to the Nation, Correa addressed the nation, saying he would temporarily withdraw the tax initiative, in order to ensure a “peaceful and joyous” environment during Pope Francis’ visit.

Protests and political opposition to the tax hikes has not dissipated, however. Large demonstrations were held throughout the country on June 18 and June 25, and the political collective Democracia Sí is asking for a referendum on Correa's office, threatening the President with losing his job.

Many voters continue to express concerns about the class impact of the proposed tax increases, asking questions about the redistribution of wealth and the possible harm to property ownership in Ecuador.

Since early June, social causes that began as hashtags online (such as#FueraCorreaFuera, or “CorreaOUT,” and #SigueCorreaSigue, or “CorreaIN”) have found their way to the streets, inspiring mass protests, as well as demonstrations of support for President Correa and the ruling party:

You don't need a revolution and to change everything in the name of progress; you just need to leave people in peace.

Towards job creation and productivity in Ecuador

The government's only recourse is to force civil servants to go out and march against the opposition.

Oposición golpista [Opposition in favor of a coup], listen: We work. We don't inherit anything.

Although the road to change is a tough one, I'm with you, my President

Backwards, let me tell you, CUENCA defends this Revolutionary process. Time to move forward!!

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