Indigenous Ecuadorans Block Roads To Protest Fuel Prices
Faizan Hashmi 1 month ago Wed 27th October 2021 | 09:40 AM
Zumbahua, Ecuador, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 27th Oct, 2021 ) :Indigenous Ecuadorans blocked roads with rocks and burning tires Tuesday to protest soaring fuel prices as the country grapples with a state of emergency and battles challenges on multiple fronts.
The unrest comes as Ecuador simultaneously battles economic collapse worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, widespread popular discontent, violent crime blamed on drug gangs, and corruption allegations against Lasso, an ex-banker whose center-right economic policies are viewed with suspicion by many.
The flex of authority has not deterred demonstrators.
"We have collectively taken this decision (to demonstrate) in the face of the new economic measures that are increasingly crushing our populations, our transport workers and our communities," protest organizer Julio Cesar Pilalumbo told AFP.
"We will resist and we will not give in to any repression," he said at a roadblock in Zumbahua in central Ecuador, where poncho-wearing women armed with spades and sticks helped men move large stones to block traffic.
Lasso tweeted that the protest "paralysis" meant "economic losses for small businesses, which sustain thousands of Ecuadoran families and households." Fuel prices have nearly doubled since last year.
Last Friday, Lasso announced another price hike to $1.
Indigenous people represent 7.4 percent of the country's 17.7 million inhabitants.
He had declared a 60-day state of emergency last week to tackle rising crime and violence blamed on duelling 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 horrific prison clashes since January, allows for deployment of troops to help fight a crime wave that last week also claimed Ecuador's 200 meters world bronze medalist Alex Quinonez in a shooting in Guayaquil.
Poverty affects about 47 percent of Ecuadorans; nearly a third do not have full-time work.
Teacher Fabiola Gualotuna, among the protesters in Zumbahua, said she felt let down by Lasso.
"He said he is going to raise teachers' salaries," she told AFP. "Some of us teachers travel seven and eight kilometers and earn a pittance. It is not fair."Lasso is facing a parliamentary investigation over Pandora papers revelations that he allegedly hid millions in assets overseas.