Ecuador Talks Falter After Soldier Killed By 'violent Demonstrators'
Quito, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 29th Jun, 2022 ) :Negotiations to end more than two weeks of disruptive living cost protests by Indigenous Ecuadorans were dealt a blow Tuesday when the killing of a soldier prompted the government to suspend participation.
President Guillermo Lasso, in a brief address to the nation, accused Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza of self-serving politics, and said: "We will not negotiate with those who hold Ecuador hostage." Iza's powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), in turn, accused the government of "authoritarianism" and said Lasso would bear the consequences for "his hawkish policy." The military said a soldier died and five police and seven soldiers were injured in an early-morning attack on a tanker truck escort in the country's east.
It said a group armed with "spears and guns" attacked uniformed personnel protecting a convoy of tankers headed for the so-called ITT block of oil fields in Orellana province, where more than a billion barrels are stored.
Interior Minister Patricio Carillo expressed condolences to the family of fallen soldier Jose Chimarro in a tweet, and described the attackers as "violent demonstrators." A second day of talks with Indigenous representatives scheduled for Tuesday morning failed to get underway as negotiators from the government did not show up.
Iza referred to a "brutal attack" but said there was no proof protesters were responsible.
"The country has witnessed all the efforts we have made to establish a fruitful and sincere dialogue," insisted Lasso, a former banker who took office just over a year ago.
"But we will not sit down again to dialogue with Leonidas Iza, who only defends his political interests and not those of his base." "Only when there are legitimate representatives of all the peoples and nationalities of Ecuador, who seek real solutions and are open to real and frank dialogue, will we return to the table of dialogue", Lasso said.
Tuesday's fatality came on top of five demonstrators dead and hundreds of civilians and security personnel wounded in clashes between the security forces and protesters blockading key roads and disrupting supply lines.
Some 150 people have been arrested, according to observers.
Operations at more than 1,100 wells have been affected.
An estimated 14,000 protesters are taking part in a nationwide show of discontent against rising hardship in an economy dealt a serious blow by the coronavirus pandemic.
Conaie, which called the protest, is credited with unseating three presidents between 1997 and 2005.
Ecuador's economy is highly dependent on oil revenues, with 65 percent of output exported in the first four months of 2022.
Protesters have set up roadblocks in most of the country's 24 provinces, hampering the delivery of food and flowers -- another key export -- and dealing a blow to tourism.
The president has also lifted a state of emergency that had been in place in six provinces and a night-time curfew in Quito.
After the concessions, the two sides met for the first time Monday for talks on ending the protest.