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Ecuadorean Leader's Vital Indian Alliance Unravels

August 07, 2003|From Reuters

QUITO, Ecuador — President Lucio Gutierrez's alliance with Ecuador's powerful Indian movement collapsed Wednesday, ending vital support that catapulted him into office last year in one of Latin America's most politically unstable countries.

Presidential spokesman Marcelo Cevallos said the governing alliance broke up after lawmakers from Pachakutik, the leftist political branch of the Indian movement, voted to defeat a labor reform bill required by the International Monetary Fund.

"The alliance is broken," Cevallos told reporters, adding that the president had asked three Cabinet members from Pachakutik to step down.

The split came after weeks of bickering between leaders of Gutierrez's party and Pachakutik, and Indians' accusations that the president had neglected the poor for deals with the political right and reforms in a $205-million IMF loan package.

Gutierrez, who first gained national renown by helping an Indian uprising topple then-President Jamil Mahuad in 2000, now has little support other than the party he founded to launch last year's electoral bid with relatives and military supporters.

Gutierrez's Patriotic Society Party has only six votes in Congress, making it tough for him to push bills through without forming ad hoc alliances.

Ecuador toppled two of its presidents in popular uprisings in 2000 and 1997.

Indians make up an estimated 25% of Ecuador's population. Though they are among the nation's poorest people, they have mobilized massive protest marches on the capital, like the one that helped topple Mahuad.

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