Assembly Changes Galápagos Law Amid Protests as Government Plans Meetings With Island Citizens

National Assembly member Angel Vilema in a heated debate over the new law

Ecuador National Assembly

National Assembly member Angel Vilema in a heated debate over the new law

As we reported earlier,  on Tuesday June 9, the National Assembly adopted by an 88-35 margin the changes proposed by President Rafael Correa to the Organic Law of Special Regime for the Province of Galapagos (LOREG). Correa had vetoed provisions in the law calling for higher wages for public and private workers in Galápagos and called for those wages to be tied to a cost-of-living index still to be determined.  That move has sparked protests in Galápagos.

Assembly member Angel Vilema, representing Galápagos, angrily resigned his membership in the ruling party Alianza Pais and then heatedly debated his former party colleagues on the assembly floor Tuesday. Another Galápagos representative, Fanny Uribe, a member of the Avanza party, also denounced the amendments to the law. Both verbally clashed with the second vice president of the Assembly, Marcela Aguinaga, in an emotional exchange of personal accusations.

The debate was frequently interrupted by loud protests from a group of Galapagos citizens admitted to the assembly gallery.

Eliecer Cruz, President of the Galápagos Governing Council

Consejo de Gobierno de Galápagos

Eliecer Cruz, President of the Galápagos Governing Council

In San Cristobal, the President of the Governing Council of Galápagos, Biologist Eliecer Cruz, told Galápagos Digital in a brief telephone interview that a commission of high-level government officials will visit the islands tomorrow and Thursday for talks with the community. According to Cruz,   “There is a strong current of opposition trying to change the facts.”

In a later Twitter message, Cruz urged people to remain calm and stop themselves from getting provoked. He said citizens should become informed about the changes in the law.

The Commission is composed of the Minister of National Planning Secretariat (SENPLADES) Pabel Muñoz, the Director of the National Census Institute (INEC) and representatives of the Ministry of Labor and other ministries and the National Assembly.

Wednesday, June 10, at 3pm, the Commission will have a meeting at the Darwin Convention Center in Baquerizo Moreno. And on the morning of Thursday, June 11, a second meeting is scheduled in the hall of the Municipality of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz.

According to Periodico El Colono, the Census Institute director will explain how “A study of the consumer price index (CPI) will be conducted and that the representative of the Ministry of Labor “will announce the formula that will be used to establish the increase in wages .”

An explanation of the contents of the Special Law will be presented by a representative of the National Assembly.

Galápagos citizens meet in San Cristobal Tuesday eveningto study changes in the law

Carlos Mena Páez / Radio Encantada

Galápagos citizens meet in San Cristobal Tuesday eveningto study changes in the law

Gina Andrade of Radio Encantada reported that on Tuesday evening, Galapagos citizens met in San Cristobal to analyze the changes in the law and plan strategy.  They’re trying to determine if there are any constitutional remedies that would help them overturn the changes.  Meanwhile calls for protest continue in the islands.

We will keep updating this story as developments warrant.