Among the three candidates most likely to reach the second round of the Ecuadorian presidential election is Yaku Pérez, 50, of the indigenous Kichwa-Kañari ethnicity, according to polls.
Despite the rejection of comparisons with the former president Evo Morales, he shares with the Bolivian, besides the origin, the militancy within the indigenous unions and the defense of a plurinational Ecuadorian State which recognizes and values the different ethnic groups that make up the country’s population. .
Pérez was governor of the province of Azuay, whose capital is the historic city of Cuenca, and participated in the 2019 indigenous protests against the adjustment policy of the current president, Lenín Moreno.
Although he was given a non-native name at birth, Carlos Ranulfo, Pérez legally changed it to Yaku Sacha – which means “mountain water” – in 2017. He studied law and obtained a doctorate in this field. at the Catholic University of Cuenca, specializing in indigenous law.
Election polls tend to make a lot of mistakes in Ecuador. There are logistical difficulties in hearing representative samples among the inhabitants of the Andes and the Amazon region. Therefore, the forecast is uncertain.
Most of them, however, report a large number of undecided, between 45% and 50% of the electorate. In the most recent, from the Cedatos institute, the competition is favored by Andrés Araúz, a candidate sponsored by former President Rafael Correa, with 21.8% of the voting intentions. Second, the banker Guillermo Lasso, with 21.2%. Pérez comes in third, with 14.5%.
If none of the nominees have 50% plus a vote, or 40% and a ten percentage point difference for the finalist, there will be a run-off on April 11.
Read the interview Pérez gave to Folha.
Folha – Is there a direct relationship between the 2019 protests and your candidacy? To what extent do you see yourself as the fruit of this movement?
Yaku Pérez – We were already working long before that, and we had already won some regional electoral victories. We did not participate in the demonstrations. However, of course, they drew attention to our causes, our flags and, in a way, helped project our candidacy. But I do not agree with those who consider that our movement was born with this episode. The indigenous struggle is old in Ecuador.
Does your application represent indigenous peoples? How to think about management for the whole country?
I do not want to represent only the indigenous peoples. Yes, I have a trajectory in this activism, in the indigenous unions and I have been leading this fight for 30 years. But our candidacy is also that of the youth, that of ecology, flags forgotten by our society and which are today more important than ever, with the threat of climate change and pandemics. We can no longer be a country so unequal, so cruelly extractive and which ignores nature.
You are an advocate of the concept of “living well”, which is of indigenous origin and is included in the 2008 Constitution, but which in practice has not been fully implemented. How do you understand “live well”?
There are many ways to think about “living well”. Yes, it is in the Constitution that [Rafael] Correa implemented it as a project aimed at integrating the cultural plurality of the country. But this is not in practice in terms of the functioning of the state model.
I understand the “good life” not as a set of parallel or competing values with the [modo de vida] Western, but rather complementarity. I don’t believe in an Indigenous science or justice that competes with, but complements, existing ones. Establishing that there should be communal property does not exclude that private property also exists, for example.
It is necessary to have a more harmonious relationship with nature. And while this is a lesson that comes from indigenous peoples, it is not just for us. The whole world is realizing this, as are the Ecuadorian youth. My proposal is to rethink, mainly, the economic model, the way we explore oil, mines, which are our wealth. These activities should not mean sacrificing the planet and the health of workers. For me, it’s “living well”.
Do you see any differences between how you would like to see this concept incorporated by Ecuador and what has been included as state policy in Bolivia?
I would like to mark some differences between my candidacy, Pachakutik’s proposal [partido do candidato] and the Bolivian experience. There has been progress in many ways, in the inclusion of indigenous communities and values, in the law and in the lives of Bolivians. But Bolivia has failed on an essential point of the concept of “living well”, which is ethics. I consider ethics to be fundamental in a government that wants harmony between society, country and state. Things like corruption cannot take place in the system that we dream of for Ecuador.
We must not confuse a community proposal with a communist proposal. We are on the left, but we do not identify with the more classic and ancient left, we are not communists. We believe in an avant-garde and community left, founded on ancestral values.
Of the 16 nominations, three are more likely to pass a second round. Yours is one of them, as is Andrés Arauz’s. Both are in the territory of the left. Do you see this riding divided?
We hope the voter will see how different we are from what Arauz and Correísmo offer. [Rafael] Correa, in his speech, defended values and concepts with which we agree. But for whom was he really reigning? For the market, economic interests, the capitalist culture of extractivism. We cannot believe that an Arauz government is any different from this line. And we will not follow it under any circumstances. They are two very different applications.
Correism, represented by Arauz, has done everything to dismantle unions, curb freedom of expression and repress demonstrations. But I understand that many people are confused by the similarities of the speech. I ask people to assess the difference there was, in the years of corrisme, between speaking and practicing. And reaffirm that we will put our speech into practice if we are elected.
One of the main challenges for the next government is the pandemic, with Ecuador entering a second wave. What would be your strategy?
We must face the pandemic with the “minga” [conceito indígena que prega solidariedade entre membros de uma comunidade para realizar atividades comunitárias para resolver problemas comuns].
We have to face this situation by listening to who knows the subject, inviting scientists and doctors to work on it, locally and internationally. And we must ensure that the strategies of precaution, treatment and vaccination are collective and simultaneous. We cannot have a priority list for immunization based on economic issues. The poor and the rich should be immunized in the same order, the most vulnerable and those on the front line first. But we cannot allow corruption or undue favor in this regard. And I believe that in emergency situations like this, there should be more solidarity exchange, regions of the country help each other.