A muscular response to social discontent. “I am committed to defending our capital and the country. This forces me to declare a state of emergency in Pichincha [province de la capitale Quito, ndlr], Imbabura and Cotopaxi “Conservative Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said in a televised speech Friday evening. Entered into force this Saturday morning in the face of the protest movement that has lasted since the beginning of the week, the state of emergency allows for the mobilization of the armed forces to maintain order, suspend citizens’ rights and establish a curfew. “I asked for dialogue and the answer was more violence. There is no intention of looking for solutions “complained the head of state.
In response, Ecuador’s powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), the country’s largest organization of indigenous peoples, said the movement would continue until its demands are heard. “We ratify the struggle at the national level, for an indefinite period”launched Leonidas Iza, the head of this organization which contributed to the overthrow of three Ecuadorian presidents between 1997 and 2005 and had already led the violent demonstrations of 2019 (11 deaths).
“From now on we are preparing the mobilization” natives in Quito to continue protests, he added calling for an end to violence and vandalism. The country’s indigenous community represents more than one million of Ecuador’s 17.7 million people.
Rising fuel prices and controlling food prices
The oil-producing country is plagued by inflation, unemployment and poverty, elements exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Fuel prices have risen sharply since 2020, going from $ 1 to $ 1.90 per gallon (3.8 liters) for diesel and from $ 1.75 to $ 2.55 for gasoline.
La Conaie asks the government to respond to a list of 10 requests. He demands that prices be reduced to $ 1.50 for diesel and $ 2.10 for gasoline, which Quito rejected. Other demands include the control of food prices and the renegotiation of personal bank loans for approximately four million households.
Launched on Monday, the protest movement, which has since joined students and workers, led to the blocking of access to two main supply markets in Quito and to many roads in 15 of the country’s 24 provinces.
With spear in hand, the Amazonian natives have also temporarily occupied the headquarters of local governments in the provinces of Pastaza and Morona Santiago (south-east), near Peru. In Quito, nearly 1,000 protesters tried to tear down the metal fences surrounding the presidential seat.
Monthly help for the poorest
Since the movement began on Monday, clashes with security forces have resulted in at least 43 injuries, while 37 people have been arrested.
In an effort to defuse the crisis, the conservative president, in power for a year, received a small delegation of indigenous representatives on Friday, but the discussions apparently produced little results. In the evening, in addition to the state of emergency, he announced the increase in monthly aid from 50 to 55 dollars for “improve the difficult situation” of the poorest families, as well as aid to farmers.
Flower growers, one of Ecuador’s main exports, complained Friday that their produce was rotting due to roadblocks. The protests have so far caused approximately $ 50 million in damage to the economy, according to the production ministry.