Ecuador Indigenous protesters arrive in Quito as president extends state of emergency

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Thousands of indigenous people and members of other disgruntled groups marched through the Ecuadorian capital on Monday on the eighth day of protests over fuel prices, accused by the president of seeking only “chaos” and his impeachment.

President Guillermo Lasso has extended a state of emergency to cover six provinces, with an overnight curfew in Quito, as he seeks to limit protests that have seen roads barricaded across the country, costing the saving tens of millions of dollars and injuring dozens.

“With this decision, the well-being of citizens is preserved in the face of violence. At the same time, the rights of those protesting peacefully are protected,” the government said.

On foot, on motorcycles and in crowded trucks, the indigenous protesters began a peaceful march towards the city center from Cutuglagua, an area in southern Quito where their numbers have been growing since Sunday.

About 100 Aboriginal people also entered the city from the north.

The powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) – credited with helping to overthrow three presidents between 1997 and 2005 – has called for the protest as Ecuadorians find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.

Indigenous peoples make up more than one million of Ecuador’s 17.7 million people, and their protest has since been joined by students, workers and others feeling the economic pinch.

“We reached out, we called for dialogue, but they don’t want peace,” Lasso said in a video on Twitter on Monday.

“They are looking for chaos. They want to eject the president.

Police say 63 staff have been injured in clashes and 21 others briefly held hostage since the protests began, while human rights monitors have reported 79 arrests and 55 civilians injured.

“Peace Zone”

The state of emergency declared last Friday allowed Lasso to mobilize the armed forces to maintain order, suspend certain civil rights and declare curfews.

On Sunday, Ecuadorian police commandeered an indigenous cultural center in Quito to use as a base for monitoring protests.

The center had sheltered thousands of Indigenous people during 2019 anti-government protests that left 11 dead and more than 1,000 injured, but forced then-President Lenin Moreno to scrap plans to eliminate government subsidies. fuels.

The Salesian University, in the north of the capital, decided on Monday “to open the doors” of its facilities as an “area of ​​peace and humanitarian shelter” for the indigenous peoples and called “to stop the actions and attitudes that interfere with or alter the process of dialogue and the search for solutions.

Oil The Ecuadorian producer has been hit by rising inflation, unemployment and poverty exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fuel prices have risen sharply since 2020, nearly doubling for diesel from $1 to $1.90 per gallon and rising from $1.75 to $2.55 for gasoline.

Conaie is demanding a price drop to $1.50 a gallon for diesel and $2.10 for gasoline.

He also wants food price controls and a commitment to renegotiate personal bank loans for around four million families.

(AFP)

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