QUITO – Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno called on Monday Venezuela’s embattled incumbent Nicolas Maduro “an ass” and accused him of being behind the violence committed during the recent social unrest that erupted when the Ecuadorian government eliminated a fuel subsidy as part of a deal with the International Monetary Fund.
During a meeting with union leaders, Moreno said – without providing any proof – that the Maduro regime had financially backed violent actions during the protests that swept over Quito between Oct. 3 -13.
Moreno said in a speech broadcast on television network Ecuavisa that he was not surprised by the “joy of the ass that governs Venezuela,” in reference to Maduro, whom he accused of meddling with Ecuador’s domestic affairs.
He also named Diosdado Cabello, Maduro’s right-hand man, and ex-president Rafael Correa – Moreno’s predecessor and former ally-turned-archenemy – as alleged co-conspirators who played a hand in the mass protests that forced his government to backpedal on the fuel subsidy repeal.
Moreno described the apparent glee displayed by the Venezuelans and Correa (in office between 2007-17) over the popular uprising in Ecuador – which had a toll of at least eight deaths, over 1,000 arrests and more than 1,000 people injured – as suspicious.
Maduro had replied to Moreno’s repeated accusations on Sunday by calling him “stupid” and denied any involvement in the anti-government and anti-IMF demonstrations in Ecuador and Chile.
But Moreno insisted in his accusations against Caracas.
“I do not doubt, under any circumstance, that there was odd money involved in the aggressiveness, to hire organized gangs of criminals who were paid to beat up, assault and burn Quito,” he said.
During Monday’s meeting with representatives of the Ecuadorian Workers’ Confederation (CTE), Moreno stressed that one of the executive branch’s most important responsibilities was job creation and called for dialogue between the government and trade unions.
However, the Unitary Workers’ Front (FUT), the largest labor union in the country, did not participate in Monday’s meeting and has called a protest for Oct. 30.
The Ecuadorian president also said that his government had taken economic measures to try to improve the situation in the country, which he claimed had been affected by a huge fiscal gap inherited from the previous administration headed by Correa.
For that reason, he said, Quito was forced to turn to funding sources such as the IMF, with which he signed a loan deal worth $4.2 billion in March.
“Before (during the Correa administration), when the loans were given by the Chinese, nobody knew the terms,” the president said. “Now everything is transparent because one of our objectives is to achieve transparency, justice and the optimization of resources.”
Moreno added that the country was “broken” following the protests because the main cities had been violated by the attitude of the protesters, who were mostly indigenous people.
“This is a democratic regime in which we discuss, ask, hear and listen,” said Moreno, who invited different sectors of society to the negotiation table – except for those with links to Correa.