Sunday, Sep 25, 2022

Ecuador: indigenous protesters reject president’s efforts to end unrest

Ecuador: indigenous protesters reject president’s efforts to end unrest

President Guillermo Lasso announces cut to gas prices in effort to quell protests demanding lower fuel and food prices
Ecuadorian Indigenous organizations have said they will meet with the government to discuss demands for lower fuel and food prices which have sparked two weeks of protests, hitting the country’s weakened economy and threatening its oil production.

President Guillermo Lasso late on Sunday announced a 10-cent per gallon cut to gasoline and diesel prices, the latest concession to try to quell the sometimes-violent demonstrations, which began on 13 June.

At least seven people have died during the unrest, and the country’s oil output has been halved, with the energy ministry saying production may be halted by Tuesday because of delayed supplies.

Lasso, whose adversarial relationship with the national assembly has worsened during the protests, has also withdrawn security measures and announced subsidized fertilizers and debt forgiveness.

Indigenous groups led by organization Conaie said in a statement earlier on Monday that the price reduction to $2.45 a gallon for gasoline extra and $1.80 a gallon for diesel was not enough.

But in the afternoon the groups said they would attend a meeting with government officials set for 2pm local time (1900 GMT), even as backers marched in Quito in rejection of the new prices.

Lasso said on Twitter the measures he has announced, including the gas price cut, will cost about $600m.

People in the capital, Quito, awoke on Monday to some road blockades. Residents have complained of shortages of domestic gas and food. Other cities have also reported shortages of fuel and medical supplies for hospitals.

The public oil sector, private producers of flowers and dairy products, tourism and other businesses have lost about $500m, the government has said.

Conaie tallies five protester deaths, while the government says three civilians died during marches, two more were killed in accidents and two died in ambulances delayed by blockades.

Lawmakers are set to continue debate on Tuesday on an effort to remove Lasso from office, though it appears opposition groups do not have the necessary support for the measure to succeed.

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