Ecuador. In the second round of the presidential election held on November 24, surprising civil engineer and former Army colonel Lúcio Gutiérrez prevailed over the lawyer and banana magnate Alvaro Noboa. Opinion polls showed during most of the election campaign that Noboa would win; As late as August he led and had 29% of the votes, while Gutiérrez was only supported by 7%.
According to Countryaah website, national day of Ecuador is every May 24. Gutiérrez belongs to the left wing in Ecuadorian politics and became known as one of the leaders behind the coup attempt on January 21, 2000. His election platform was a new party whose name recalls the event (Movimiento Sociedad Patriótica 21 de Enero), and he is supported by Movimiento Pachakutik, political branch of the Indian movement Conaie who also participated in the coup attempt.
However, in the first round of elections on October 20, Movimiento Pachakutik lined up with his own candidate, Auki Tuaña, who along with Antonio Vargas for Frente Futuro de Ecuador was the first Indian ever to stand in a presidential election in Ecuador.
Energy policy was a hot topic during the year. On February 22, a state of emergency was issued in the Department of Sucumbíos after protesters occupied the state oil company Petroecuador’s facilities in protest of the government’s privatization policy in the energy field and against the government’s promises of investment in the area. The protesters, supported by both Conaie and a majority of congressional parties, also succeeded in stopping the construction of a new large oil pipeline.
On March 15, 2005, several thousand employees of the judiciary went on strike in protest of the government’s decision to intervene in the Supreme Court’s composition. Public discontent further escalated when newly appointed judges canceled the judgments of former presidents Gustavo Noboa and Abdalá Bucaram, allowing the two to return home from their exile in Panama and the Dominican Republic.
The opposition claimed that an agreement existed between Gutiérrez and Bucaram, and with the return of the two presidents two more protests continued. Throughout April, an elongated process ripped Gutiérrez’s presidential office. April 13 was marked by extensive demonstrations in Quito demanding that the Supreme Court judges resign from their posts and that Gutiérrez be dismissed. 2 days later, he responded surprisingly again by going on TV surrounded by the army general and his ministers. In a speech, he declared the country in a state of emergency, and at the same time, by decree, dismissed the 31 Supreme Court judges. However, the protesters in Quito ignored the state of emergency and this was canceled only 19 hours after being introduced. On April 17, Congress ratified the purge within the Supreme Court and passed a law reform in the judiciary. On the 18th. April, thousands of protesters walked the streets again demanding Gutiérrez’s departure. The opposition declared its readiness to remove the president while the US ambassador negotiated with the various parties to the conflict.
By April 20, Gutiérrez had been ousted by Congress and had lost his support in the armed forces. He therefore sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy and sought asylum in Brazil. Vice President Alfredo Palacio was inaugurated as new president with the backing of the armed forces.
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Riceurged Ecuador to solve its problems through dialogue and peace, but refrained from recognizing the country’s new president. Washington had close ties to Gutiérrez, who on several occasions was referred to as a friend, and it was with him that the United States had signed the agreement on Ecuador’s entry into the US Free Trade Area. But President Palacio had barely joined before Foreign Trade Minister Oswaldo Molestina declared that the basis Ecuador had negotiated his admission to would be thoroughly analyzed, and at the same time several members of the negotiating delegation were fired. Palacio immediately came under heavy pressure from various sectors of the Ecuadorian community, and thousands of protesters walked the streets again – this time to protest the United States; especially after the superpower refused to recognize Palacio as the country’s president.