Ecuadorian president moves govt out of capital amid fuel hike protests

World Today

Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno has moved his government out of the capital Quito—as anti-austerity demonstrations rage for a sixth day. The protesters are angry over Moreno’s decision to end fuel subsidies, but he accuses them of staging a coup.

CGTN’s Gerald Tan reports.

From across Ecuador, they’ve flooded Quito, bringing nationwide unrest to the capital.

The indigenous groups have choked transport links and vandalized public buildings. They’ve confronted police with petrol bombs and rocks, engaging in running street battles.

At issue: the scrapping of fuel subsidies last week. Overnight, petrol cost nearly 25% more, while diesel prices more than doubled.

Protester Oscar Guialda said: “This issue has caused discomfort in the whole country. They’ve raised fuel prices and mining materials, so if we drivers are going to deliver things to people, logically, we have to raise prices. So, in the end, those who suffer are the people.”

A sentiment echoed by Andres Kilumba, who explains, “They take from us, the poor. We need to work, and it hurts us. That’s why we’re here, to defend what is ours, nothing more.”

The upheaval has rattled the President Lenín Moreno, who’s moved his government from Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil.

He accuses allies of his predecessor and one-time mentor Rafael Correa of attempting a coup, saying: “What has happened here in recent days is not a manifestation of social discontent in protest of a government decision. No, the looting, vandalism and violence show there is an organized political motive here to destabilize the government and break the constitutional order.”

The protesters said they just want to protect their livelihoods. Fuel subsidies were introduced 40 years ago. They cost $1.3 billion a year, something Moreno said the cash-strapped government can’t afford.

The groundswell of opposition is forcing a showdown between the president and his people, with a national strike planned for Wednesday.