June, 2000

National President of UNE [National Teachers Union of Ecuador] Imprisoned

Today, Wednesday, June 21, 2000, the teachers of Ecuador, who totally stopped their activities for six weeks, held a large national march for several hours in the center of the city of Quito and, at about 8 o'clock at night, their national president, Professor Aracely Moreno Silva was arrested in an operation in which dozens of heavily-armed police took part, belonging to the elite groups of the Public Order, such as the Special Operations Group (GOE). The GOE invaded the offices of the National Teachers Union (UNE). The operation, supported by several vehicles, was carried out with extreme violence, damaging cars near the offices, damaging the installation, throwing tear gas inside and attacking teachers who had concluded the National Council of UNE.

The strike of the Ecuadorian teachers is being carried out on a platform that includes two points:

- raising the basic teaching salary to levels existing at the beginning of 1999, with a basic salary of $100 US (the present average monthly income of a teacher is $53 US, while the poverty level for a family is $120 US)

- the suspension of the approval of the new education law, which in a concealed manner privatizes education and directly eliminates the stability of teachers and other trade union rights. The UNE earlier presented a Law drawn up with massive participation of teachers, parents and students throughout the country, which calls for a democratization of the educational system and mechanisms to force the government to comply with the constitutional mandate to spend 30% of the budget on education (the present government this year spent about 7%).

The arrest of Aracely Moreno violates various constitutional guarantees and besides ignores Prof. Moreno’s parliamentary immunity as an alternate representative to the National Congress. Moreover, her imprisonment is in addition to other similarly unconstitutional arrests of other leaders of UNE such as Ernesto Castillo (President of UNE in Guayas), Carlos Medina (a former national president) and several others.

Moreover, the repressive action of the regime is being carried out in opposition to its statements of willingness to engage in dialogue. President Noboa has added to this contradiction with insults and threats to the teachers; with a big campaign managed by the media belonging to the big economic groups in which they are telling lies about schools in which they claim that the teachers have returned to work and many other lies. The President in person and in a press conference lied in saying that Aracely Moreno was a candidate in the last elections, they artificially inflated their wage offer and they are concealing the true intentions of the privatization Law.

The repression will not succeed in frightening the Ecuadorian teachers who are completely united and tomorrow will begin hunger strikes in all the provincial capitals of the country.

The imprisonment of Aracely Moreno should be opposed by all who believe in justice within democratic norms, by all who know that education is not a business but a human right and by all who reject authoritarian actions of dictatorships. We therefore request that you send on this mailing to everyone you know and to send e-mails opposing this detention, demanding the immediate, unconditional freedom for the detained leaders of UNE, to the following addresses:

Dr. Gustavo Noboa, President of Ecuador. E-mail (vpre@uio.telconet.net).

National Teachers Union. E-mail (une@accessinter.net).

We thank you greatly and we promise to achieve victory for the good of the education of the children and adolescents of Ecuador. Privatization and neo-liberal repression will not pass.


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