There were off-and-on clashes all day in the capital Quito and in some other cities. For now, President Lenin Moreno appears to have the backing of the military. But anger over his decision to end four decades of fuel subsidies runs deep.
CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from Quito.
A tense calm returned to the Ecuadorian capital, but there were signs the unrest of recent days is not over. Indigenous groups from across the country arrived in Quito this week, upping the stakes in the stalemate between the government and protesters.
Thousands of indigenous Ecuadorians are gathered in a park in Quito on the first day of a national strike. They said it will continue until the government repeals the controversial decree lifting the fuel subsidies.
The government move caused the cost of gasoline to spike by a third overnight as well as doubling the price of diesel.
Indigenous groups, many of whom are poor, said the austerity measures are hitting them hardest. Their leader said there will be no dialogue unless the government rolls them back.
“The only thing we are saying is repeal the decree 883,” said Jaime Vargas, President of the Ecuadorian Indigenous Confederation. “If it is repealed, the people will decide if we will talk or not, but we are angry because we have several injured, several detained and several dead, and this will not stand.”
But Moreno said he will not rescind the decree which has sparked the worst protests the country has seen in years.
The violence across the capital forced Moreno to move his entire government to the country’s largest city, Guayaquil.
“I am convinced of dialogue with my indigenous brothers, with whom we share many causes, on how to use the country’s resources for those who need it the most,” said Moreno. “Fellow Ecuadorians don’t fall for those who want to take advantage of the chaos.”
Moreno accused his predecessor Rafael Correa – a former ally turned bitter enemy – of inciting the protests, but indigenous leaders deny they have been manipulated.
Lourdes Tian, a former Ecuadorian congresswoman and Indigenous leader declared, “We are not responsible for the vandalism caused by certain infiltrators who want to show that the indigenous movement is criminal, is a thief, and is a vandal.”
Correa denies any involvement but has said Moreno should step down and new elections called.