In the Name of Democracy Denounces Ecuador Electoral Fraud
Open Letter from the "In the Name of Democracy" collective to the Organization of American States (OAS) and to the People of Ecuador
Saturday November 25, 2006
Mr. Jose Miguel Insulza
Organization of American States
People of Ecuador
The people of Ecuador have a right to participate in free and fair elections. We support them in their struggle to exercise this fundamental right. We add our concerned voice to that of others demanding transparency and denouncing the grave irregularities reported in the first round of the presidential elections on October 15, 2006. We are particularly concerned with allegations regarding the unethical and partial behavior of the OAS head of mission, Rafael Bielsa, in the face of irregularities and manipulations on the part of Alvaro NoboaÂ´s campaign. Our concern with the situation in Ecuador, based on abundant and reliable information and allegations of fraud in the first round and upcoming run-off in the presidential elections makes it imperative for us to write this public statement.
In the Name of Democracy (INADEM) is a research collective based in Canada, with members and partners throughout the Americas that was formed to investigate "democracy promotion": the political intervention of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and international financial institutions in the global south. In 2006, INADEM has focused on Latin America and the Caribbean where the ten presidential elections scheduled for the region this year have attracted increased political intervention, primarily from the US and Canada. Local organizations and individuals as well as members of INADEM have been monitoring these processes from the ground.
From the information we have compiled from human rights and civil society organizations in Ecuador we make the following statement:
â€¢ During the first round of Ecuador's presidential elections on October 15th, numerous irregularities in the electoral process were reported and published by voters, Ecuadorian human rights organizations, indigenous and community groups, and other members of Ecuadorian civil society.
â€¢ Noboa has publicly made open attempts to procure votes with cash handouts, chickens, bags of flour, computers, and wheelchairs, showing utter contempt for campaign rules such as spending limits which he exceeded by at least USD $1,000,000. The Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE, the Supreme Electoral Council) of Ecuador has a responsibility to enforce these limits and respond to infringement.
â€¢ These organizations have accused OAS head of mission Rafael Bielsa of violating his responsibilities as an impartial observer for making public statements against Rafael CorreaÂ´s politics and for failing to adequately respond to serious irregularities reported during the first round vote.
â€¢ Mr. BielsaÂ´s integrity has been further questioned for making false statements about his relationships with E-Vote spokesman Santiago Murray. E-Vote, a private Brazilian firm, was contracted by the TSE for the rapid-count in the first round of elections; their contract was annulled during the count in the first round when E-Vote reported that their system collapsed and only 70% of the votes had been counted. Consequently, these organizations have requested that the OAS withdraw its envoy.
As the primary international observer, OAS has a responsibility to take all necessary measures to ensure transparent and fair elections and to report irregularities and possible fraud when they occur. The allegations against Ambassador Bielsa's impartiality and his failure to adequately respond to reported voting irregularities require that he be immediately withdrawn and replaced in his charge as OAS head of mission in Ecuador. Furthermore, OAS owes an explanation to the Ecuadorian people regarding the mission's failure to adequately respond to these denouncements.
Unfortunately, our work and our research have demonstrated that these abuses are not unique to Ecuador. Once again, the decisions of the electorate are in danger of being subverted by the manipulations of a powerful few, with total impunity. We lend our support to the people of Ecuador in the defense of their democratic rights. We call upon Human Rights and Civil Society organizations and independent media within and outside of Ecuador to continue to denounce the ongoing irregularities. In the name of democracy, we demand respect for the free and fair electoral decisions of the people of Ecuador and pledge to monitor this situation closely and expose irregularities as they arise in coordination with individuals and organizations committed to the promotion of, and respect for, genuine democracy.
William I. Robinson