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Protests against Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno continue for fifth day

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Ecuador to demand the president’s resignation after Moreno said he will not…

By Jenny Scordamaglia , in United States , at October 8, 2019 Tags: , ,

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Ecuador to demand the president’s resignation after Moreno said he will not bring back fuel subsidies. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested since Moreno declared a two-month national emergency on October 3.

Indigenous protesters have paralyzed roads around Ecuador and blocked a main highway into the capital in a fifth day of action against government austerity measures that have sparked the worst unrest in years, resulting in 477 arrests.

The umbrella indigenous organization Conaie said demonstrations would continue until President Lenín Moreno withdraws last week’s measure to eliminate fuel subsidies.

“More than 20,000 of us will be arriving in Quito to demand that the government overturn the decree,” the Conaie president, Jaime Vargas, told a news conference, saying that mobilization would coincide with a national strike planned for Wednesday.

Moreno, 66, who has abandoned his predecessor and one-time mentor Rafael Correa’s leftist policies, says he will neither tolerate disorder nor overturn the fuel price hike that is part of a liberal economic reform package.

The interior minister, Paula Romo, told the local Radio Quito that detentions had risen to 477 since Thursday, mainly for vandalism, including the destruction of a dozen ambulances.

Indigenous and workers’ movements again blocked roads on Monday, from the Andean highlands to the Pacific coast, with stones, tires and burning branches.

The northern entry to Quito was paralyzed.

Police erected barricades around the presidential palace, closing off the downtown area while Moreno presided over a government security council meeting to assess the crisis.

The government says two dozen policemen have been injured in clashes with protesters, while a man died when he was hit by a car and an ambulance could not reach him through the barricades.

As well as the detainees for unrest, authorities have also rounded up about 20 shopkeepers for raising food prices illegally in a knock-on effect of higher fuel costs.

A state of emergency is in place.

Although he enjoys the support of business and the military, Moreno’s popularity has sunk to under 30%, compared with 70% after his 2017 election.

Indigenous-led protests brought down three presidents in the years before Correa’s rule.

In a national address on Sunday night, Moreno reiterated calls for dialogue. “I want to talk with the indigenous brothers, with whom we share causes,” he said, adding that resources would be set aside to help the poor and compensate for price rises.

The government is struggling with a large foreign debt and fiscal deficit and earlier this year reached a $4.2bn loan deal with the International Monetary Fund that hinges on belt-tightening reforms.

As well as ending fuel subsidies, the government is trimming the state workforce and planning some privatizations. Moreno says the fuel subsidies, in place for four decades, had distorted the economy and cost $60bn.


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