Resisting austerity in the era of COVID-19. Between nationwide mobilisation and decentralised organising in Ecuador

Diana Vela-Almeida, Angus Lyall, Geovanna Lasso, D (Diego) Andreucci

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

74 Downloads (Pure)


Since 2017, the return of a neoliberal government in Ecuador has been characterized by austerity measures designed to lower state debt, particularly through cuts to social and environmental programs and the privatisation of state institutions. These policies have worsened ongoing economic and environmental crises suffered by the country’s poor, leading to massive protests in October 2019, which temporarily blocked further austerity measures. Yet, in subsequent months, the COVID-19 emergency enabled the government to move forward with neoliberal reforms and with policies promoting the expansion of extractive frontiers and the corporate food system. In this chapter, we examine decentralised organising among anti-neoliberal movements during the pandemic, particularly anti-extractivist and peasant agro-ecological collectives. We confirm prior findings regarding austerity that qualify it as a strategy not only to reduce state expenditure, but also to privately appropriate the commons, actively redirecting wealth to capital. Our research highlights that, in a context where mass protests are hindered by the pandemic, anti-neoliberal resistance in Ecuador operates in flexible articulations or assemblages that respond to shifting contexts. In 2019, marginalized sectors converged on urban political centres, concentrating a popular mass to pressure the central government and later, during COVID-19, local organisations advanced forms of decentralised resistance across the country, constructing or expanding solidarity networks, using legal and digital systems, and mobilizing alliances with local governments. Thus, subaltern anti-neoliberal movements continued to advance a politics of solidarity across changing contexts by flexibly articulating organisationally and tactically.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Political Ecology of Austerity
Subtitle of host publicationCrisis, Social Movements, and the Environment
EditorsRita Calvário, Maria Kaika, Giorgos Velegrakis
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781003036265
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Research programs

  • ISS-PE


Dive into the research topics of 'Resisting austerity in the era of COVID-19. Between nationwide mobilisation and decentralised organising in Ecuador'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this