Protesters in Ecuador continue their fight to restore fuel subsidies

World Today

Protesters in Ecuador continue their fight to restore fuel subsidies

Anti-government protesters in Ecuador paraded captive police officers at a rally, as the country’s worst unrest in a decade continues.

Organizers said they will not back down until the government restores fuel subsidies. CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from Quito.

The mood was angry and defiant as thousands of indigenous protesters, angry over increased fuel prices, filled this cultural center in Ecuador’s capital. After another night of anti-government protests directed at President Lenin Moreno, leaders said the strike would continue.

“It’s up to the president to repeal the decree to lift the strike. If he doesn’t, the strike continues,” declared one indigenous leader.

“We want to make it clear that we have never, never made any agreement with the national government,” said Mesias Tatamuez with the Workers’ United Front.

The demonstrators detained at least eight uniformed police officers who they forced on stage before a crowd. The stance of the indigenous movement has hardened even more after clashes on Wednesday night left more casualties. Indigenous leaders here said there will be no negotiation with the government, and some are calling for Ecuadorian President Moreno to step down.

It has been the worst unrest Ecuador has seen in a decade. It began when the government lifted fuel subsidies, causing prices to spike overnight. Ecuador’s government wants dialogue but Foreign Minister José Valencia said it will not negotiate under the threat of violence and vandalism.

“This is an extremely critical situation which is not a decision of the indigenous leaders,” Valencia said. “We trust in their word. We believe and we have evidence that this is a result of calls by opposition leaders to use violence, to take control of public institutions and roads and to attack the forces of order with violence.” 

He told CGTN foreigners, including Venezuelans, had been arrested, adding the cost from lost oil revenue and other damages could run into the tens of millions of dollars. The government said more than 700 people have been detained and some 80 police officers injured as a result of the clashes.

“The police had followed strict protocols of action which have been in place for years and were drawn up under international norms,” said Valencia.

He said the United Nations and the Catholic church was backing peaceful dialogue with some indigenous and trade union groups. Meanwhile, Peru and Chile are standing by President Moreno as he faces the worst crisis since he took office in 2017.