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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 12, New Delhi, March 6, 2021

Open Letter —Stop Racist and Misogynist Attacks on the Emergent Indigenous, Eco-Feminist Left in Latin America

Friday 5 March 2021

Open Letter

— Stop Racist and Misogynist Attacks on the Emergent Indigenous, Eco-Feminist Left in Latin America

— Address the Crisis in Today’s Ecuador

Dear Editors of Jacobin Magazine and Monthly Review,

March 1st, 2021

We, the signatories of this letter, have to come together to demand the retraction or clarification of two recent articles that smear political movements and leaders in Ecuador. The gains of Yaku Pérez and the coalition around the Pachakutik party in the 7 February 2021 elections represent an exciting and emergent new left comprised of Indigenous organizations, eco-socialist politics, feminist and LGBTQ+ activists, anti-racist movements, and anti-extractivist causes. On 24 February 2021, these movements came together in the streets of Ecuador, to demand that every vote be counted. Silencing and discrediting Ecuadoran voices as well as new popular movements—while demanding fealty to state capitalist leaders associated with the extractivist “left” in Ecuador and across the region—must end. Ben Norton’s “How Ecuador’s US-backed, coup-supporting ‘ecosocialist’ candidate Yaku Pérez aids the right-wing,” (republished by the Monthly Review on 8 February 2021) [1] and Denis Rogatyuk’s “Ecuador’s Election Was a Massive Repudiation of Neoliberalism” (published in Jacobin Magazine on 18 February)[2] do not reflect the traditions of Monthly Review—the “longest continuously published socialist magazine in the United States.” [3] Both articles contradict Jacobin’s founders’ goal to develop a “product of a younger generation not quite as tied to the Cold War paradigms that sustained the old leftist intellectual milieu.”

[4] The editors’ openness to new generations is at odds with the sustained offensive against a new Indigenous eco-socialist and feminist political left in Latin America. Rogatyuk’s article in Jacobin condemns the eco-socialist candidate Pérez and his partner, Manuela Picq, pointing out they “have for years attempted to portray Correa as an anti-Indigenous, anti-environment leader that pursues an ‘extractivist’ model of development.” Yes, they have, as have most independent social scientists who have looked at the wreckage of the Correa legacy. [5] There is a vibrant, Indigenous, and youth-led coalition of leftists who have critiqued Correa’s misuse of “el buen vivir” principles in his policies. These policies nourished new extractive industries. Under Correa, the state criminalized Indigenous groups,[6] LGBTQ+ populations, and exploited new mining resources and areas such as Yasuní.[7] Rogatyuk mocks the new left in Ecuador as a “ragbag” and “surreal” group who “absurdly” make claims about the partiality of electoral commissions. Rogatyuk overlooks the extensive and historic struggles of Indigenous identity, genocide and sovereignty, as well as the multiple battles against extractivism and ecological devastation, gendered injustices, political/social misogyny, [8] and homophobia. The article willfully ignores the organizational and social momentum and innovation that fueled Pérez’s electoral success. It ignores these movements’ critiques of extractivist statism and monolithic personalism. Rogatyuk suggested that “Pérez’s political record suggests he is a Trojan horse for the left’s most bitter enemies.”

Similarly, Norton’s Monthly Review article disdainfully dismisses environmentalists, whose critiques of extractivism or racist policies of the statist left he portrayed as “opening up space for the right.” The author singles out “Extinction Rebellion” as a right-wing tool. He rages against the language of “decoloniality” and the eco-socialist left’s critique of statist leaders’ complicity with whiteness and colonial-economic and social legacies. In a typically authoritarian thrust, the article demonizes anyone who allies themselves with NGOs, branding them as supporters of imperialism.

Norton’s widely circulated Monthly Review article aimed at fracturing the left and eroding social movement support for Pérez as an alternative. The piece was published at a crucial moment in the Ecuadorian presidential election. Conventional media outlets have used it to discredit and damage a candidate of the eco-socialist/Indigenous/feminist left. Norton’s article wove together a series of Pérez’s tweets critiquing the statist and extractivist left. Of course, many members of the progressive left, including some of us writing this letter, disagreed with these proclamations as well as Pérez’s support of neoliberal candidates as a strategy to defeat authoritarian elements. But we contextualize these positions.

The Monthly Review article spotlights Manuela Picq, Pérez’s partner, in a misogynist and homophobic diatribe that mocks and attacks her feminist, queer studies, and eco-social politics. Generating absurd conspiracy narratives, this article designates her body as evidence of Pérez’s imperialist complicity. It stinks of rumor-mongering, noting that she took classes at Princeton in a building named after Ronald Reagan, as if this would prove that she was a stooge of the Reagan administration. At age 25, Picq was part of a civil society dialogue in the FTAA negotiation process where she organized critics of the FTAA.

Instead of mentioning this history of radical praxis, she is accused of being a “CIA cutout” and an agent of “billionaire George Soros,” a familiar anti-Semitic accusation. She is also incriminated for teaching classes in queer studies and feminist theory. The author claims that because Picq teaches “Latinx Studies” and “Queering Notions of Modernity,” she is an enemy of global class struggle and complicit with imperialism. Norton does not acknowledge the long list of Picq’s other publications on queer theory, international relations, social movement struggles, or resistance to authoritarianism. Most tellingly, the author does not mention that Picq was arrested and deported from Ecuador by the Correa government for having participated in united Indigenous, feminist, and anti-extractivist protests.[9]

These two articles do not explore in detail the context of Pérez’s political momentum in the organization and revitalization of CONAIE—the Indigenous confederation that led the largest set of protests in Ecuadorian history in October 2019, uniting Indigenous groups, feminists, students, and workers movements to fight back against the imposition of a wrenching IMF accord and to demand the end to ecocidal plunder and land dispossession. This moment consolidated the leadership of a younger generation. CONAIE’s legacy, of uniting movements in October 2019, lent popular and movement support to Pérez’s candidacy and might bring him perhaps to second place in the polling. The article does not mention the historic October 2019 uprising or CONAIE and Pérez’s roles in it.

We are concerned that a significant number of today’s left-wing actors, across the Americas and the world, align themselves with extractivism, agrobusiness, authoritarian statism, [10] and stand against Indigenous, anti-racist, and anti-patriarchal movements, ideas, and leaders. We worry that the former is acting to eject the latter from the conversation by labeling them as right-wingers and allies of imperialism.

We should not be distracted from the wave of violent, ultra-racist “populism,” and military and parliamentary coups that have swept the region in the past years. It is exactly these authoritarian developments that make it irresponsible and dangerous to brand those who critique the extractivist left as allies of Yankee imperialists or sympathetic to Bolsonaro-type populists who are encouraging genocide, femicide, racial exterminations, and homophobic assassinations. We stand against authoritarian statism focusing on individual male populist figures and armed, militarized “machocratic” patriarchy. Against this model, a new progressive alternative for the left has been emerging—led by Indigenous, Black, and feminist as well as class and worker-identified justice movements—to advocate redistribution of wealth, land, and autonomies to forge new modes of collective, bodily, and eco-social participation and rights.

After Ecuador’s 7 February 2021 election, civil society groups across Ecuador raised concerns that an effort was underway to “find votes” needed to bring Lasso’s totals above Pérez’s. This would serve both sides of what Chilean writer Andrés Kogan Valderrama has labeled the “binary” political equation [11] of extractivist left and neoliberal right. Both sides saw Pérez as the most threatening opponent, for he might win and, more than that, dismantle the binary political equation that has been making true redistribution and eco-social justice unimaginable. The Ecosocialist Feminist Network stated, “We reject the role that ‘Correismo’ [Rafael Correa’s regime] has played in this moment, exacerbating racism and delegitimizing social struggle through media campaigns…We know that the struggle continues and what will be the mobilization and unity of the popular field will permit us to sustain the gains accumulated in October [2019] and resistance against this system of death.” [12] We deplore the demonization of both Pérez and movements that brought him so close to the run-off election. A left-wing global community deserves better, and we call on the editors of Monthly Review and Jacobin to reject these simplistic and dangerous analyses which feed right wing structures of hate in Latin America.

Signed,

Paul Amar, Professor, Director of Orfalea Center, University of California, Santa Barbara

Sonia Correa, Co-Chair, Sexuality Policy Watch

Ghaitai Paul Males Castañeda, Comunidad Indígena de Compañía, Líder Espiritual Cristiano-Andino de Jóvenes

Macarena Gómez-Barris, Professor, Pratt Institute

Mara Viveros Vigoya, Profesora Titular, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, LASA President (2019-2020)

Lisa Duggan, Professor, New York University

Cristina Yépez Arroyo, McGill University

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Professor, Wesleyan University

William C. Smith, Professor Emeritus, University of Miami

Rita Laura Segato, Professor, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina

Pamela Martin, Professor, Coastal Carolina University

Mario Pecheny, Professor, University of Buenos Aires

Cruz Caridad Bueno, Assistant Professor of Black Studies, SUNY-New Paltz

Javiera Barandiaran, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara

Michelle Artieda, Florida International University

Mieke Verloo, Professor, Radboud University, The Netherlands

Lena Lavinas, Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Sherene R Seikaly, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara

Gita Sen, DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era), Fiji

Gloria Careaga, Facultad de Psicología, UNAM, Mexico

Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Hunter College &The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Rina Pakari Marcillo, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

Steve Stein, Senior Professor, University of Miami

Markus Thiel, Associate Professor, Florida International University

Dominique Chiriboga, Activista Feminista y LGBT, Ecuador

Flavio Carrera V., Project Coordinator, Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Daniela Cabascango, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Ecuador

Kiran Asher, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Carolina Benalcázar, Concordia University

Fernando Luz Brancoli, Associate Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Diana Coryat, Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador

Bila Sorj, Professor, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Pablo Ospina Peralta, Docente de la Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Quito, Ecuador

Antonia Carcelen-Estrada, Profesora investigadora, Universidad San Francisco de Quito/Northumbria University

Jennyfer Masaquiza, Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Claudia Sofía Garriga-López, California State University, Chico

David Paternotte, Université Libre de Bruxelles

Carlos de la Torre, Director, Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida

Miriam Lang, Professor, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador

Carmen Diana Deere, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of Florida; LASA President (1992-1994)

Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Guilherme Leite Gonçalves, Professor, Rio de Janeiro State University

Johannes Waldmüller, Research Professor, Universidad de Las Américas, EPN

Sylvia Cifuentes, University of California, Santa Barbara

Larry Lohmann, The Corner House (Environmental and Social Justice), UK

Gareth Dale, Brunel University, UK

Alvaro Jarrin, Associate Professor, College of the Holy Cross

Alberto J. Olvera, Profesor Titular, Instituto de Investigaciones Histórico-Sociales, Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico

Benjamin Arditi, Professor of Politics, UNAM, Mexico

Margarita López Maya, CENDES-UCV, Venezuela

Les Levidow, Senior Research Fellow, Open University, UK

Javier Corrales, Professor, Amherst College

Patrick Bond, Professor, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Joan Martinez-Alier, ICTA, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain)

Zillah Eisenstein, writer, Prof. Emerita, Ithaca College

Iokiñe Rodriguez, Seniour Lecturer, University of East Anglia, UK

Rehad Desai, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Cristina Vega, Profesora Investigadora, FLACSO Ecuador

Muhammad Reza Sahib, KRuHA - people’s coalition for the right to water, Indonesia

Monroe Edwin Jeffrey, International Tribal Association, United States

Francesco Martone, Senatore della Repubblica, Italia

Barry Gills, University of Helsinki, Finland

Pedro Gutiérrez Guevara, Researcher, Kaleidos Center of Interdisciplinary Ethnography, Ecuador

Rosemary E. Galli, independent researcher, Observatório das Nacionalidades, UK

Elisa Van Waeyenberge, SOAS University of London, UK

Markus Kröger, Associate Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

Gabriel Roldos, ROLPRO SAS Publishing House, Ecuador

Tom Kucharz, Ecologistas en Acción, Spain

Lisa Rofel, Professor Emeritus and Research Professor, Co-Director, Center for Emerging Worlds, UC Santa Cruz

Marcelo Coelho, Journalist, Folha de São Paulo, Brasil

Alejandro Bendaña, Activist, Nicaragua

John Francis Foran, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara

Melissa Weiner, Associate Professor, College of the Holy Cross

Ashish Kothari, Global Tapestry of Alternatives, India

Elisabeth de Souza Lobo, Psychologue, Université Paris 7, France

Noah Zweig, Investigador Independiente, Ecuador

Devin Beaulieu, University of California, San Diego

Bárbara Sepúlveda Hales, Asociación de Abogadas Feministas, Chile

Eng-Beng Lim, Director of Dartmouth Consortium of Studies in Race, Migration, and Sexuality; Assoc Professor WGSS, Dartmouth College

Pallav Das, Editor, Radical Ecological Democracy

Roxana Erazo, University of Toronto

Santiago Acosta, Lecturer of Spanish, University of California, Davis

Andrea Sempértegui, Lafayette College, USA

Najwa Mayer, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dartmouth

Judith Butler, Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Marisol de la Cadena, Professor, University of California-Davis

Benjamin Arditi, Professor of Politics, UNAM, Mexico

Rosa Jijón Co-founder, A4C Arts for the Commons, Italy

Donald E.Pease, Professor, Dartmouth College, USA

Grace Delgado, Data Analyst, Dagan Inc., Estados Unidos

Tamra L. Gilbertson, Professor, University of Tennessee and Indigenous Environmental Network

Danid Barkin, Distinguished Professor, Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico

Jai Sen, Researcher and listserve curator

Catherine Szpunt, Occupational Therapist, BOE, USA

Fabio Luis Barbosa dos Santos, Professor, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brasil

Hugo Ceron-Anaya, Associate Professor, Lehigh University, United States

Salvador Schavelzon, Professor, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brasil

André Luiz de Oliveira Domingues, farm worker, DSA IC Americas, USA

Mia Yee, alumni, College of the Holy Cross

Juan Wahren, Investigador y Profesor, Universidad de Buenos Aires/ CONICET

Pablo Solón, Fundación Solón, Bolivia

Gina Vargas, Feminista, Peru

Sandra Macedo, Sociologa e artista visual, Brasil

Eduardo Erazo Acosta, Professor, University Nariño, Colombia

Judith Dellheim, Researcher, Zukunftskonvent Germany, Deutschland

Silvia Spitta, Dartmouth College, USA

Carolyn D’Cruz, La Trobe University, Australia

Dr MK Dorsey, Club of Rome, Spain

Didice Godinho Delgado, Activist, Germany

S A Hamed Hosseini, Alternative Futures Research Network, Common Alternatives, University of Newcastle, Australia

Céline Veríssimo, Associate Professor, Federal University of Latin American Integration, Brazil

Nina Isabella Moeller, Associate Professor, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, England, UK

Kevin Bruyneel, Professor, Babson College, United States

JM Pedersen, Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University

Julien-François Gerber, Researcher and Teacher, Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands

Mirella Pretell Gomero, Syracuse University

Pamela Calla, Profesor, New York University

A. Naomi Paik, Associate Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Carla Rodrigues, UFRJ, Brasil

Gayatri Gopinath, Professor, New York University

Teresa Armijos Burneo, Lecturer, University of East Anglia, UK

Trevor Hirsche, Instructor, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Bolivia

Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, Professor, New York University

Stefania Barca, Zennström Professor of Climate Change Leadership, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden

Éric Fassin, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Paris 8 University (Vincennes - Saint-Denis)

Suzana Sawyer, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis

Cristina Rojas, Professor, Carleton University, Canada

Nadine Lefaucheur, CNRS Retraitée, Martinique France

Helena Hirata, Directrice de Recherche Emérito, CNRS, France

Angela Freitas, Coletivo Feminista 4D, Brasil

Dennis Altman Professor, LaTrobe University, Australia

Isabelle Stengers, Prof. emerita, Université Libre de Bruxelles

Emmanuelle Picard, Assistant Professor, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France

Valentine Olivera, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne

Picard Elodie, OpenEdition, France

Daniel Fischer, Food Not Bombs, USA

Margaret Wiener, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ana María Goldani, Brazil LAB, Princeton University

Paola Minoia, University Lecturer, University of Helsinki, Finland

Lucas Savino, Associate Professor, Western University, Past-Chair of Ethnicity, Race and Indigenous Peoples Section (LASA)

Marco Aurelio Maximo Prado, Professor, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Breno Bringel, Professor, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tristan Partridge, Research Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara

Geoff Goodwin, London School of Economics, UK

Aida Matilde Marcillo Perugachi, Concejala del Canton Otavalo, Ecuador

Stalin Herrera, Instituto de Estudios Ecuatorianos, Ecuador

George Yudice, Professor, University of Miami

Malvika Gupta, University of Oxford, UK

Aida Luz Lopez, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de Mexico

Enrique Leff, Senior Researcher/Professor, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Giorgos Kallis, Professor, ICTA-UAB, Spain

Mariana Walter, Phd. Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain

Angus McNelly, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Dalena Tran, Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA-UAB), Spain

Isabelle Darmon, Lecturer in Sociology and Sustainable Development, University of Edinburgh

Bárbara Sepúlveda Hales, Asociación de Abogadas Feministas, Chile

John Cavanagh, Director, Institute for Policy Studies, USA

Anna Storti, Dartmouth College, USA

Robin Broad, Professor, American University, USA

Alberto Acosta, Expresidente de la Asamblea Constituyente (2007-2008), Ecuador

Marinalva de Sousa Conserva/ Profa. Dra., Universidade Federal da Paraíba, Brasil

Maria aparecida Ramos, Assembleia Legislativa da Paraíba, Brasil

Bryan Winston, Dartmouth College, USA

Margherita Scazza, University of Edinburgh, UK

Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Mateo Martínez Abarca, National Autonomous University of México, Ecuador

Kristina Lyons, Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Clara Keane, Occidental College, USA

Edgardo Lander, Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution, Venezuela

Julio César Díaz Calderón, University of Florida, México

Christian Gros, Professeur Honoraire, Institut des hautes études de l’Amérique latine, Paris

Paula Castells Carrión, FARO (Foundation for the Advance of Reforms and Opportunities), Ecuador

Ximena Francisca Andrade Jorquera, docente e investigadora, UEM FLCS, Mozambique

Notes

[1] https://mronline.org/2021/02/10/how-ecuadors-u-s-backed-coup-supporting-ecosocialist-candidate-yaku-perez-aids-the-right-wing/

[2] https://jacobinmag.com/2021/02/ecuador-election-arauz-hervas-perez-neoliberalism

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monthly_Review#:~:text=The%20Monthly%20Review%2C%20established%20in,magazine%20in%20the%20United%20States.

[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20190711101435/

http://idiommag.com/2011/03/no-short-cuts-interview-with-the-jacobin/

[5]There is extensive literature that examines how the period of Rafael Correa’s government as a time of impunity and human rights violations.

See: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-8675.12117

[6] In 2017, CONAIE fought to get amnesty for all activists of the indigenous movement who had been prosecuted and sentenced for protesting Correa’s government and Chinese mining companies, and defending water resources. The government misused anti-terrorism laws dating from the 1970s military dictatorship to incarcerate indigenous leaders protesting extractivism. At that time, 98 individuals faced criminal prosecutions for resistance to authority, terrorism, sabotage, etc. See: https://www.planv.com.ec/historias/politica/conaie-la-lucha-la-amnistia
and https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-22656374

[7] See: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2013/oct/15/ecuador-president-misleading-yasuni

[8] Correa’s sabatinas, weekly speeches televised in different locations around the country on Saturdays, were spaces which could last up to three hours. There he presented his visions and proposals, and attacked citizens, journalists, human rights activists, academics, and environmentalists. The Media Observatory of Ecuador (OME) has counted 95 grievances against women and for sexist language in the 152 Correa’s weekly speeches between 2013 and 2016.

See: https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/05/23/planeta_futuro/1495560980_079621.html

On Saturday December 28, 2013, one of the last during Correa’s first administration, the former president criticized "gender ideology." On the same occasion, Correa affirmed “defending the traditional family” and declared opposition to abortion "has nothing to do with the left or the right," but are simple “moral issues.” See full video here: https://youtu.be/ODXFdqtGsyo?t=6341

[9] See: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-manuela-picq

[10] In 2013, Rafael Correa issued Executive Decree No. 16 to control NGOs and establish limitations on the independent and autonomous functioning of unions and social organizations. The decree was harshly criticized by local and international organizations.

https://sobrevivientes.planv.com.ec/decreto-16-y-las-amenazas-a-las-ong/

Correa arbitrarily punished journalists who did not agree with him and actively attacked indigenous environmental activists who opposed oil and gas extraction or open-pit mining on their lands. https://rsf.org/en/news/what-future-free-speech-ecuador-after-presidential-election

https://amazonwatch.org/news/2018/0418-new-report-shines-light-on-dark-days-for-amazon-earth-defenders-in-ecuador

[11] https://oplas.org/sitio/2021/02/14/andres-kogan-valderrama-yaku-perez-y-el-fin-de-los-binarismos/

[12] https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7033

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