America's Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) Frontline News two weeks ago reported on a petition by Ecuadorian doctors’ and lawyers’ organizations and private citizens challenging Green Pass vaccine mandate restrictions. Since then, the court has postponed the hearing twice because of procedural irregularities.
Frontline News spoke to Attorney William Sánchez Aveiga, who submitted the petition, about why the hearing was twice postponed, what the government hopes to achieve, how the people of Ecuador are faring, and the future of the case:
1) Please help our international readers understand the Ecuadorian legal system, and why the case was postponed already twice?
"The Ecuadorian legal system for these cases establishes two mechanisms that can be implemented, and in this case, we have chosen one of them. Those mechanisms are Protective Action, which is the one we have chosen, and the other is Unconstitutionality Action that we have not chosen because that is done by other means, through the Constitutional Court.
"In the current case what a Protective Action does - as its name indicates – is to protect constitutional and human rights violated by the state. It is brought before a judge, whoever comes out by lottery. This case has fallen to a Family, Childhood, and Adolescence judge in the Southern Judicial Unit that we call Valdivia, located in front of the Civil Registry.
"Actually, the postponement is due to the fact that the Court Secretary did not summon the State Attorney General, a sine qua non condition for the proceeding to take place - otherwise the hearing cannot convene. Despite the fact that when accepting the lawsuit the Judge indicated that the Attorney General be summoned, the Court Secretary did not summon him. Then I submitted a memorandum requesting a written record, and that is when the Judge admitted that the summons was not issued.
“These are our judicial system’s ruses, because if the Judge herself tells the Secretary to issue the summons and she does not do so, obviously there is deficiency in her office. Whether the Secretary or Judge forgot it is really difficult to know, but in any case it is the responsibility of her office.”
2) Are these delays enabling the National Emergency Center of Operations (COE) to establish facts on the ground that will be more difficult to reverse?
“It may be. It is actually possible because I think that deep down they are trying to buy time, so that the largest number of vaccinations is carried out. This plot is about vaccinating the maximum number of people, with vaccines that - by the way - are expired but have been given an extension of use, something quite unusual for any drug, even more so for a vaccine that is a very delicate thing. Of course, these aren't vaccines anyway.”
3) What can you tell us about the judge who will hear the case?
"I think that she has a great responsibility and right now I am sure that she has great pressure on her, because in our Latin American countries, the governments in power hold powerful political force over the judicial system.
"There are two aspects, one is the pressure I was talking about, and the other has different nuances. It is enormous ethical and moral responsibility that the lady has, using the legal tools at hand, asserting them, using them in the appropriate way; because for her this is an historic audience, because she has in her hand the possibility of settling in favor of people’s life and health - not only their freedom, which is quite a lot. Behind that is the most important thing which is life and health - or to be against it.
"I don't know if the Judge understands or discerns it; it will remain in her conscience. We will also appeal if the ruling is unfavorable, and that appeal is made before the Court of Appeals, which is in this case the Provincial Court of Guayas; and after that, with the ruling of the Provincial Court, whatever it may be favorable or unfavorable towards us, we will go higher.
“This way the government behind the COE understands well that all these postponements are going to help them achieve the largest number of vaccinated people only until March, because I do not think they can do more beyond that with those expired vaccines.”
4) Ecuador's relatively new constitution is the first in the world to recognize the right to food. This case therefore appears to touch upon the very basis of the country's stability. Do you believe the court will be courageous enough to take upon itself the burden of overruling the health authorities if necessary, and if not, what appeals process if any is available?
"Despite the fact that it is said that our constitution is one of the most advanced, at least in Latin America, and it is overly liberal, in fact the right to food is being violated when you are forced to present a vaccination card to enter in places where they sell food, not only prepared food but also where potatoes, rice, butter are sold, that right is affected.
"I very much doubt the ethics and independence of the Ecuadorian judiciary. I have to say it that way unfortunately, because it's the truth; if you do a survey here in Ecuador I believe that 80% will answer something similar: “We don't believe in justice,” because it is politicized justice, a handcuffed justice that submits, kneels, bows before the political power on call. And political power implies economic power as well.
"We always have several resources, one is the right to direct resistance, which is also something particular in our legislation; it is not in all laws, and unfortunately that right to resistance is not developed, that is to say it exists as a premise in the constitution and although the constitution itself establishes that when there is no redress the judges will have to accept direct resistance; however, it is still a splinter in the eye, to put it metaphorically, because it does complicate things.
"No one can fool everyone forever, and the powers will fall, so it's only a matter of time in this case so that these people, starting with the judges themselves if they commit infractions that can be verified, can be brought to national and international court in due time. I see with great sympathy, with great pleasure, what is happening in countries like France where people have risen up, and surrounded Pfizer headquarters, shouting at the Prime Minister and Pfizer officials what they deserve. I believe that this is going to be emulated in some way in our Latin American countries.
“There is one thing I want to say and I do not get me mixed up with some religious fanatic, but I am sure that this is a fight between good and evil; people who are good within have God on their side. The bible says that no one can oppose someone who has God with him. I am sure that eventually we will win and that the truth will triumph and evil will be punished in exemplary manner, because behind the scenes there are also miserable economic and private interests of people who are using all this to their advantage.”
5) Meanwhile, what are people doing for food?
"Here they are doing the typical thing, restrictions have led people to obtain fake documents, or purchase through relatives, because sometimes in a family with several members there is one who has been vaccinated, so that person will have to go to the supermarkets.
"In the public or municipal markets in Guayaquil there's no problem, although there is a small sign that says ‘show vaccination card,’ in practice there's no problem. Once I was asked for it. I said ‘I’m a lawyer,’ showed my credentials and told him: 'If you insist that I must show you a vaccination card - that I don't have - to enter, I’m going to sue you with a criminal complaint that carries a penalty of two to three years if you are a private person, and can be raised to five if you are a public official. What do you think? Stop me if you dare,' and I went in.
"However, in supermarkets and shopping centers there's complete restriction for people who don't have a vaccine card. In my case I have a medical certificate, because I have a degree of hypertension and the doctor gave me that certificate that I cannot get vaccinated precisely because one of the side effects of the vaccine would affect my health. With that they've let me in until now.
"This situation has resulted in great violations, starting with the COE, which does not have the legal power to issue this type of resolution. The committee is legally an executor of policies or emergency actions in the event of floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, an earthquake, things of that sort. The committee previously based on resolutions taken by the ministerial authorities - directly by the National Government or municipalities, but does not have powers for this.
"Here, it was done in a despicable way by the President of the Republic because this man is the one behind all this. Even if you identify the wolf eating your sheep, you are lost and will never catch it. Here the puppeteer, the wolf, that evil predator is the President of the Republic and, obviously, his entire governing structure. Zapata is nothing more than an instrument, who is living his quarter-hour of glory; the man is in the media, they interview him, they photograph him, they film him, and Guillermo Lasso Mendoza is behind it.
"Similarly to what happened in Colombia, which is already public, about the contracts between the Colombian government and Pfizer and AstraZeneca, I am sure that something similar was done here, because there's a video that someone leaked, where the National Assembly Health Commission President Dr. Marcos Molina meets with other assembly members, with Health Minister Jimena Garzón, and asks her about the vaccine contracts, and Garzón tells him directly that the terms of the contract were imposed by the laboratory. On account of what? She does not explain, but when the doctor asks her again for the figures and more details, she says they have a confidentiality clause that cannot be revealed. But that is also illegal because we have a law that is the LOTAIP, which is the Organic Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information.
“Paragraph 7, if my memory serves me correctly, establishes when a contract or document of any kind falls into that category of not being revealed for fifteen years; but clearly this document does not fit into that, so they are hiding under the tablecloth of a feast set with putrid substances so as not to reveal the truth; but we'll have to fight for these contracts to be revealed, just as in Colombia someone brought them to light, because there is no perfect crime, and the beneficiaries behind all this plot have been revealed; because there's money to be made here, there is the entanglement of disgusting corruption.”