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Urban Guerilla Warfare in Ecuador

Patricio Padilla, Ecuador
"We must carry the war into every corner
the enemy happens to be: to his home,
to his centers of entertainment: a total war."
Che Guevara

These words of the bloodthirsty leader of the Cuban Communist Revolution are very timely today. They can well explain the riots that have taken place in Ecuador and Chile, shaking the stability of these countries in October and November 2019.

Ecuador is in a difficult economic situation. The previous Marxist government of Rafael Correa left the country in poverty and, worse, it compromised Ecuador’s future by taking loans at usurious rates from China.

So, the present day government led by Lenin Moreno went to the IMF and got a loan to pay back the debts. In turn, the IMF demanded austerity conditions, that is, the elimination of subsidies and the reduction of State bureaucracy. The agreement was sealed. After the first IMF disbursement, the government announced it would eliminate the fuel subsidy, which translated into an increase in gasoline prices. That was the trigger the Revolution was waiting for.

ecuador riots 2019

Stones-throwers shoot & run back to the area protected by shields of the same size: an urban guerilla strategy

attack quito riots
Overnight, students left their universities and took to the streets to protest; bus and taxi drivers soon joined them in a nationwide transport strike. This was presented as a spontaneous reaction of the people.

However, after the government suspended the classes in the colleges and made an agreement with the transport union leaders, the riot should have stopped. It did not. So, the real agents of the insurgency appeared. They revealed themselves to be trained anarchic and destructive agitators who had no interest in a better future for Ecuador. A number of videos show them in action, looting private stores, vandalizing cars and destroying whatever they found, especially poorly guarded public buildings (here).

Supported by statistical data, the Minister of Defense General Oswaldo Jarrín appeared before the Parliamentary Commission investigating this national situation. He affirmed that the police and army were not duly prepared to simultaneously face a transportation strike and this indigenous insurgency. To cope with this insurgency, the army had to restructure, to improvise. So, with an unprepared security system, the country suddenly found itself on the brink of war.

It was a scenario of well-planned urban guerilla warfare. It did not take long to realize that the supposed spontaneous “strikers” were following strategies designed for urban street conflicts. They had all the necessary hand-made weaponsto face the police and a supply of manufactured shields to protect themselves.

Their street demonstrations were all meticulously planned and many of the participants were well trained, with the first rows carrying shields, followed by protesters with improvised bazookas and homemade rocket launchers. After them were others throwing Molotov cocktails with a fuel that was later found to include chemicals that would adhere to the clothing or skin of the victims. Behind them it was possible to identify a center command directing the action and agents delivering the orders.

ecuador riots

Small rockets launched from iron pipes reveal a well-planned strategy

General Jarrín concluded that these riots had been prepared, planned and followed a precise strategy.

I believe the courage and patriotism that both our military and police personnel displayed in dispelling this violence should be praised. Without lethal weapons and with almost no deterrent arms, they placed their lives at risk to face this horde of trained rioters, It should be noted that the previous Correa government had undermined and weakened these two institutions as much as possible, while promoting and developing the "Defense Committees of the Revolution," which followed the model of the Venezuelan paramilitary guerilla groups.

The fact that the police were not properly armed explains why the rioters were able to kidnap – which they termed "to peacefully retain" – police and military officers as well as journalists. We have seen in videos the shameless boldness of those so-called indigenous rioters threatening, mistreating and humiliating the police officers, especially the female officers.

comtroller burning

Smoke of the burned archives & furniture of the Controller State Building, at right

A curious event that took place during the riots gives us a tip about who is behind the scenes in this episode of urban guerilla warfare. The corruption of ex-president Rafael Correa's government is in the process of being investigated. The documents substantiating his wrongdoings were kept in the building of the State Controller General.

Well, during the October riots, that building was taking over by the “indigenous” mobs, and the fifth floor – which housed the Correa files – was targeted. Everything in those rooms – including the archives with those files – were thrown out the windows and burned.

What is the link between a fuel price hike and a mob of criminals that destroys and burns the archives and furniture of a public building?

Psychological effect on public opinion

This episode of urban guerilla deeply harmed the mental and psychological equilibrium of our Ecuadorian people.

Our society and its assets, including national treasures, were violently attacked, looted and vandalized, many of these buildings and goods were destroyed and burned to ashes. The newspaper El Universo reported that initial calculations point to $ 2.3 billion of damage.


Under-armed police & military bravely face the mobs

An atmosphere of fear and insecurity dominated everything. The home where we live is the refuge where we find peace and tranquility. Well, during the days of rioting in Ecuador, our homes no longer provided this shelter. We were all aware that at any moment the rioters could enter our homes and destroy everything, without much that we could do to prevent it.

Psychologically speaking, the urban guerillas and the inefficiency of the police and military forces to contain the mob violence created an ambience of insecurity, fear and even panic in a defenseless population.

Politically speaking, the Moreno government backed down and made all possible concessions to the “indigenous” protesters. It called off the price hike on fuel and offered representatives of the “indigenous” a seat at the table, giving them a say in future government decisions.

Support of the Church

To all of the above, I must add that five universities provided protection and logistical support to the protesters. The two that stand out are the Salesian Polytechnic University and the Jesuit Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. They were fully backed by the Archbishop of Quito Alfredo Espinoza and the Ecuadorian Bishops Conference, but this is a subject that I will address later.

The smoke from the riots and the smell of tear gas in Quito had not completely dissipated when, just as suddenly and apparently spontaneously, more revolutionary urban guerilla riots emerged in Chile, the country with the highest standard of living in Latin America, so far. I hope to address this topic in another article soon.

amazonians join riots

Indians from the Ecuadorian Amazon joined the protests.
Were they concerned about fuel prices or shipped in for the guerilla?


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted November 22, 2019

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