Ecuador: Yasunidos denounce National Election Commission for apparent irregularities

Posted on April 18, 2014 • Filed under: Conflicts, Ecuador, Police/Military Activity, Politics press release…Just five days after turning in more than enough signatures to qualify for a national referendum to stop oil drilling plans in a critical part of Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, Yasunidos, the civil society collective spearheading the grassroots effort is denouncing what appear to be egregious irregularities by the National Election Commission (CNE).

According to Yasunidos, the chain of custody of the boxes with more than 755,000 signatures was broken. In a visit to the CNE yesterday, members of Yasunidos discovered boxes of signatures with seals broken and tops off. The boxes only were to be opened in front of a monitoring team trained by CNE and organized by Yasunidos. The National Electoral Commission, appointed by the government, has 30 days to verify the signatures.
“The chain of custody is a critical component of ensuring a transparent and non-partisan process, Esperanza Martinez, a member of Yasunidos and president of Acción Ecológica. “We are asking the CNE to explain why the chain of custody was broken. We will not continue with the process until we are satisfied with their explanation,” she declared.

As soon as word got out this morning that the Ecuadorian military was attempting to remove boxes of signatures from the CNE headquarters, Yasunidos put out a call to defend signatures asking supporters to contact President Correa, CNE and Ecuadorian Embassies around the world. Yasunidos mobilized and blocked military trucks for hours. The military has now begun to remove some boxes and said that they are taking them to a site at the former national airport where counting and verifying will begin.

Additionally, irregularities have surfaced over the copies of national IDs of signature gatherers. The CNE appears to have “misplaced” or “lost” photocopies of the national IDs of over one hundred signature gatherers. The copy is a requirement for signature gatherers, and the lack of the photocopy ID would result in the nullification of every signature they gathered. In total, that number could be over one hundred thousand, which would put the collective very close to the minimum 600,000 or 5% of the population needed to force the referendum. According to the CNE, Yasunidos only turned in 1,275 copies of IDs, while collective claims they submitted 1,426. But, in a telling example, the photocopy of Esperanza Martinez’s ID was said to not have been turned in, only to be found later.
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For more information, contact:
Leila Salazar-López, 510.281.9020 ext 303,
Adam Zuckerman, 207.838.5806,
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