Dominica Labour Party Returns to Power
The Dominica Labour Party (DLP) was returned to power in
elections last Monday after it last held office in 1980. The DLP is led by
Rosie Douglas. He said that the win was due to people becoming fed up with
corruption and economic mismanagement under the government of the United
Workers Party (UWP) led by Edison James. The DLP has promised a government of
integrity and said it will stimulate economic growth through investments and
promote an enterprise economy driven by the private sector. Dominicas
main produce is its banana industry, which is threatened by the World Trade
Organisation ruling that the European Unions preferential treatment of
Caribbean banana imports violates global free trade rules.
The DLP will have 10 seats in parliament, in alliance with
the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), which has two seats. The UWP won the
remaining nine seats.
Dominica became an independent republic within the
Commonwealth in 1978. Dame Eugenia Charles had led the DFP from 1968 and been
prime minister from 1980 until her retirement in 1995.
What Now for Ecuador?
With the assumption of the Presidency of Ecuador by Gustavo
Noboa on January 22, it appeared that the mass struggle in Ecuador has lost its
There was mass social upheaval in the country against the
profound social and economic crisis in Ecuador. The president, Jamil Mahuad, in
power for just 17 months, had proclaimed the dollarisation of the economy to
resolve the crisis. But on January 21, almost 20,000 indigenous people, a
sector representing practically 40% of the population, held a rally in the
centre of Quito to demand his resignation. With the backing of a military group
led by General Carlos Mendoza, head of the Armed Forces Joint Command, they
entered Congress and announced the formation of a civilian-military junta. The
demands of the indigenous people were for land, for resources to be given to
their communities, and recognition of the Confederation of Indigenous
Nationalities (CONAIE), as well as the demands for social reforms and an end to
corruption. After consulting US officials and under threat from the
countrys business sector, General Mendoza dissolved the junta, and the
military commanders handed over authority to Gustavo Noboa.
Antonio Vargas, president of CONAIE, affirmed that the
indigenous population feels betrayed by the armed forces and predicted a
possible civil war, given the widespread poverty and misery of the Ecuadorian
people. Antonio Vargas in a statement to the press said: "We do not
support Noboa; in fact we are going to continue fighting to implement a junta
of national salvation, which cannot be attained for now, but it will, because
for us the need for it is still valid."
The new president formed a cabinet and announced that he is
to continue with the dollarisation of the countrys economy, a policy
which led to a decline in the purchasing power of the indigenous population,
the poorest section of the community in Ecuador. Antonio Vargas has stressed:
"We are opposed to dollarisation, privatisation and payment of the foreign
Ecuador's dire economic crisis brought inflation of 60.7%
in 1999, caused gross domestic product to contract by 27% and led the
government to declare a moratorium on its foreign public debt of about $16
billion. The local currency, the sucre, devalued by 67% in the year. With
unemployment running at 17% the reasons for the prevailing unrest among
Ecuador's 12.4 million people can be fully understood.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) and the US
government described the popular forces as undemocratic, while offering support
for Noboas government. The European Union condemned the overthrow of
President Mahuad and urged dialogue between what it called "all
sectors" to restore stability. Portugal, speaking as the EU president,
said that hasty actions could jeopardise development in the oil-producing
state. It said that the EU would continue to monitor developments in Ecuador
closely, adding that it was in contact with the OAS and the Group of Rio, a
group of South American countries, about the situation.
The British government condemned what it termed an
"unconstitutional coup". Foreign Office Minister John Battle said in
statement, "Since the era of military-led regimes in the 1970s and 1980s,
Latin America had been moving in the right direction toward entrenching
One woman in Quito, the capital, quoted by agency reports
said, "Noboa or Mahuad, theres no difference. They all have to go.
Were worse off and nothing is going to change."
According to many reports, the popular and democratic forces
are saying that the struggle must continue against the dollarisation, for a
moratorium on the foreign debt, against privatisation and other neo-liberal
measures, against corruption, and in defence of national sovereignty and for
democratic and social rights.