Ecuadorans Block Roads On Second Day Of Fuel Price Protests
Quito, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 28th Oct, 2021 ) :Indigenous and rural Ecuadorans blocked roads in several provinces Wednesday on the second day of protests against soaring fuel prices amid a countrywide state of emergency.
On Tuesday, 37 people were arrested and five police officers, a journalist and at least one demonstrator were injured in the largest protests since conservative President Guillermo Lasso took office in May.
Two soldiers who had been held by protesters since Tuesday were released Wednesday night after intervention form the Red Cross.
"Out with Lasso, out!" the protesters demanded Wednesday, as they blocked key roads.
Ecuador's public safety department said there were also roadblocks in the provinces of Imbabura, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Chimborazo.
Protesters in Cotopaxi were subjected to "strong repression," march organizer the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) said, with its president Leonidas Iza warning that "more violence will anger people." But Lasso said that on Tuesday, "the armed forces and police secured control and order with respect to the demonstrations without violence." "They did the same today, and if the marches continue tomorrow, then we will maintain control," he added.
"It is hurting the people." Reducing fuel subsidies, which began under former president Lenin Moreno, is one way for Ecuador to shrink spending in exchange for loans from the International Monetary Fund.
Poverty now affects about 47 percent of Ecuadorans and nearly a third do not have full-time work.
Last Friday, Lasso announced another 12 percent increase in fuel prices, which have nearly doubled since last year -- bringing the price of diesel to $1.90 per gallon (3.8 liters) and that of petrol to $2.55.
The president, a former banker, invited the indigenous protest leaders to meet with him at the presidential palace next month, his spokesman said on Twitter Wednesday evening, echoing an earlier call for "dialogue." Conaie, credited with helping topple three presidents between 1997 and 2005, wants the price capped at $1.50 for diesel and $2.10 for petrol.
- State of emergency - "We have nothing to survive on, the pandemic has hit us too hard. We are trying to... have a dignified life as promised by President Lasso," said Hermelinda Pilaguano, 51, in the San Francisco de Oyacoto neighborhood of Quito, where protesters were stoking fires.
On Wednesday, the Fundamedios press freedom body said eight journalists had been assaulted over the two days of demonstrations.
Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency last week to tackle rising crime and violence blamed on dueling drug traffickers in the country nestled between the world's two biggest cocaine producers: Colombia and Peru.
The state of emergency, decreed after some 240 gang-aligned inmates were killed in prison clashes since January, allows for deployment of troops to help fight a crime wave that last week also claimed Ecuador's 200-meter sprint world bronze medalist Alex Quinonez in a shooting in Guayaquil.
No limitations were imposed on gatherings or protests.