Thousands Of Peasants And Indigenous People Demonstrate In Quito On The Ninth Day Of Protests In Ecuador

Thousands of peasants and indigenous people have arrived in Quito this Tuesday in their ninth day of protests for an indefinite period against the Government of Guillermo Lasso. The mobilization has been called to demand a reduction in fuel prices by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), an organization with political weight in Ecuador, born in 1986, with the aim of articulating the different indigenous peoples and rural workers of the country.

Leonidas Iza, the main leader of the mobilization, has called on the Lasso government to consider the list of required demands that include price controls on fuels and essential products, better payment to agricultural producers and curbing the expansion of mining. The Government made new announcements last Saturday aimed at responding to part of the demands of the Conaie, such as the emergency declaration of the health system and an increase in the budget for intercultural education, among other measures. But these announcements have not been able to stop the mobilizations.

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As of Sunday, in the context of the demonstrations, one person has died, falling into a ravine while fleeing from the police. This Tuesday, the Conaie denounced the death of Byron Guatatuca during demonstrations in a sector near the Amazonian city of Puyo, the capital of Pastaza province. The confederation assured that the victim was shot at close range and blamed the event on the Government. In the images broadcast on social networks by Conaie, the young man can be seen lying on the ground with a prominent wound on his forehead and surrounded by a pool of blood.

However, the Police delimited their responsibility by stating that the death was due to the manipulation of an explosive. “It is presumed that the person died due to the manipulation of an explosive device,” the institution said of order in a statement specifying that “it does not use explosives to control public order.”

In addition, 55 demonstrators have been injured and 79 people have been arrested, according to data from the human rights organizations. The Ministry of the Interior has reported that 61 police officers have some type of injury.

The causes of the mobilization

The reasons that have led to the demonstrations are, above all, economic. “We have been demanding decent employment and labor income, freezing the price of fuel and basic purchases, supplies and medical supplies in hospitals, respect for the prices of products from poor peasant units, admission to universities for young people from working families,” explains the Conaie statement.

Other more structural demands have been added to these demands, such as criticism of the economic model promoted by Lenin Moreno and continued by Lasso. “The reason is the five years of policies of shock neoliberals that have generated a vertiginous deterioration of the living conditions of the population”, explains the Ecuadorian researcher in indigenous movements, David Suárez, a sociologist at the Central University of Ecuador.

The relationship between the Lasso government and the indigenous movement has always been tense. Since the first round of the 2021 presidential elections, when the candidate proposed by the indigenous sector, Yaku Pérez, came in third place in a very tight result with Lasso only hundredths of a difference. A result that prevented the Pachakutik political organization from entering the second round and fighting against Rafael Correa’s candidate, Andrés Arauz.

The position of the Government

“The democracy of Ecuador is at serious risk due to the concerted action of exalted people who prevent the free movement of the majority of Ecuadorians,” Defense Minister Luis Lara assured on Tuesday. “The Armed Forces will not allow attempts to break the constitutional order or any action against democracy and against the laws of the Republic.”

The Government of Ecuador decided this Monday to extend the state of emergency from three to six provinces, thus limiting free association, circulation and meeting in public spaces, as reported by the presidency. Among the protesters there have been some acts of violence such as the attacks against the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, the taking over of the House of Ecuadorian Culture or the stoning of the Attorney General’s Office, despite repeated calls by the indigenous leader Leonidas Iza for the mobilizations to are peaceful and without violence or vandalism.

“Democracy or chaos”. For the president of Ecuador, who has denounced that what the protesters are looking for is to end his government, there are no half measures. “They are looking for chaos, they want to throw out the president, I am here, I am not going to escape,” he assured in a video that he posted on his Twitter account. “Last Saturday I answered the requests from Conaie. We are attending to legitimate citizen demands. His response: more violence.”

Late and partial responses may be some of the causes that explain why the situation has worsened. “At this moment, the social commotion that Ecuador is experiencing is not the product of any conspiracy, nor of any destabilization strategy, but rather it is a social commotion generated by the inability of the government to respond democratically to the demands. It is a social commotion generated by the government itself”, says the researcher from the Central University of Ecuador



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