- Pachakutik Plurinational Unity Movement – New Country
The Pachakutik Plurinational Unity Movement – New Country ("Movimiento de Unidad Plurinacional Pachakutik – Nuevo País") is an indigenist party in
Ecuador. It was founded in January 1996primarily as a way to advance the interests of a wide variety of indigenous peoples' organizations throughout Ecuador. In the context of Ecuador's indigenous movement, Pachakutik emerged after successful civil society mobilizations by large indigenous organizations such as CONAIEand CONFENAIE. Despite being backed by CONAIE and the workers' Social Movement Cooperation, the party is not affiliated with the organizations, as its official purpose was to serve as an alternative to the traditional cluster of political parties that had ruled Ecuadorian politics. The party has been a topic of controversy among indigenous peoplesthroughout Ecuador because of its nature as a political party, and many indigenous people are unwilling to recognize it as representing their interests because they feel that the party has compromised too many indigenous demands in order to participate in the political process.
Pachakutik participated in the presidential
electionsof 1996despite having only been formed a few months beforehand. In order to give a strong media boost to the party in their first presidential election, they recruited a former TV personality named Freddy Ehlersto represent the party on the highest national stage. Although Ehlers failed to win the election, he placed third with nearly twenty percent of the popular vote despite having less than five months to prepare his campaign. In addition, eight members of Pachakutik won seats as national deputies, including CONAIE president Luis Macas, and although they constituted less than ten percent of the seats in the National Congress of Ecuador, the presence of the party was undeniable. For the first time indigenous citizens of Ecuador were present in Congress, representing the interests of all groups throughout the country.
Pachakutik, along with a strong
civil societyeffort by CONAIE and others, was instrumental in pushing for the new Ecuadorian Constitution in 1998which, among other things, recognized the country as multi-cultural, paving the way for such reforms as bilingual education. Since the 1998 elections in which Pachakutik’s amount of representation declined, the party has never quite reached its prior levels of support and has been unable to topple the majority of the Congress that does not share their views. It has been criticized by CONAIE for its ineffectiveness, leading to a " coup d'état" in 2000organized by CONAIE in association with sympathetic members of the military. Although after only hours of taking the capital and instituting a three-man junta including CONAIE president Antonio Vargasthe government dissipated, echoing CONAIE’s frustration. Pachakutik has since distanced itself somewhat from CONAIE while still remaining intensely involved with gaining indigenous rights. At the legislativeelections, 20 October 2002, the party won at least 12 out of 100 seats. Its candidate Lucio Gutiérrez, member of the Patriotic Society Party 21 Januarywon 20.3% of the vote in the presidential elections of the same day and won the second round with 58.7%.
After three months of government Gutierrez broke up its alliance with Pachakutik and he discharged its ministers. The party soon grew to despise him and publicly criticize him. In
2003they even began to call for the removal of President Gutiérrez publicly in the media. The political party is struggling with problems of identity at this point in time and is in risk of losing all that it had originally gained in 1996.
However, with Gutierrez out, the return of
Luis Macasto the presidency of CONAIE and the opposition to the signature of an agreement of free trade with united states, they have been able to reunify to the movement.
At the 2006 elections, the party had its worst results since its founding, but still maintains representation in the government with 6 seats in Congress. Macas ran for President and came in 7th place with 2% of the vote.
* [http://www.pachakutik.org.ec/ Official web site]
* [http://www.luismacas.org/ Luis Macas Home Page]
* [http://www.conaie.org/ CONAIE]
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