Galapagos groups continue to protest against the newly-ratified “Organic Law of Special Regime for the Province of Galapagos.” According to Jairo Gusqui, one of the protest leaders on Santa Cruz Island, there are meetings every evening to discuss the law and plan actions. On Tuesday June 16, says Gusqui, people will form a human chain to spell “SOS” in a court of Santa Cruz and in the coming days they will demonstrate at Tortuga Bay beach.
In San Cristóbal, Gina Andrade of Radio Encantada reports that a group organized as “the Women’s Galápagos United Front” are standing in a non-stop vigil in the plaza of Baquerizo Moreno with posters “demanding respect for human rights and rejection of the Galapagos law.”
Another factor spurring the protest is the arrest of former Galápagos congressman Eduardo Veliz. According to a communication from the Ecuadorian Internal Security Ministry, he was arrested Friday night, June 12, accused of “inciting the public to paralyze a public service” at the San Cristóbal airport. Veliz was moved to Guayaquil where a judge sentenced him to 30 days of detention.
In social networks many Galapagueños expressed dissatisfaction with the presence of a mainland police contingent of 140 officers, including members of tactical units specialized in maintaining public order.
The Daily Periódico El Colono reported that Galápagos governor Eliecer Cruz stated that he “is in talks with the Internal Security Minister to assess how long the police reinforcements should remain in the province.” Cruz added, “the goal is to ensure public order and prevent damage to private and public property. ”
In addition to the protests there is also a legal challenge in the works. Dr. Angel Orna, an expert on constitutional and environmental law, is preparing a court action to get the new Galápagos law declared unconstitutional.
In a telephone interview with Galápagos Digital, Dr. Orna stated that this constitutional legal remedy permits “citizens to stand before the Constitutional Court to determine the violation of established rights,” adding that “we want to establish that Galapagos law has violated several rules laid down in the Constitution. ”
According to Dr. Orna, if the new salary formula mentioned in the law reduces wages in Galápagos, this “would be unconstitutional because Article 11 Paragraph 8 of the Constitution provides that rights are progressive and not regressive. All rights should go forward not backwards”
Besides the wage issue, Dr. Orna says he finds violations in several other areas of the new law, including a weakening of protections for the environment of Galápagos. He says it “opens the possibility of harm to ecosystems.”
A delegation of Galápagos citizens will accompany Dr. Orna when he submits his complaint before the Constitutional Court in Quito.