Ecuador declares emergency in 3 provinces amid calls for president’s ouster

Quito, June 17 (EFE).- Ecuador’s president Friday declared a state of emergency in three provinces amid protests against rising prices and the economic policies of his right-wing government.

President Guillermo Lasso said he would defend the capital, where the indigenous-led demonstrations have been gaining momentum.

In a televised address, Lasso said the state of emergency from midnight in the provinces of Pichincha, whose capital is Quito, and Imbabura and Cotopaxi, located in the north and center of the country, respectively.

“I pledge to defend our capital and our country,” said the president, who once again called for “all social organizations” to engage in talks.

The emergency will last 30 days and entails the mobilization of the armed forces in support of the national police to maintain order.

It also includes the suspension of the rights of association and assembly and a night curfew between 10 pm and 5 am in Quito.

However, the most controversial point of the decree is that “the right to freedom is restricted” so that the government “may require providers operating public telecommunications networks to suspend, lower quality of or temporarily restrict telecommunications services.”

Lasso said he would increase the value of the human development bond given to the poorest from $50 to $55, waive overdue loans of up to $3,000 in the Development Bank and subsidize urea for small and medium farmers in an attempt to curb discontent.

The measures would be implemented immediately.

The president announced an emergency in the country’s public healthcare system, which is facing a shortage of medicines.

He also touched upon doubling the budget for intercultural education and opening credit lines of up to $5,000 for farmers at an interest rate of 1 percent and a 30-year term.

He did not refer to freezing gasoline costs at a lower price, which is among the main demands of protesters.

He promised he would not revise the prices of diesel, gas, and regular gasoline.

He also ruled out entering into processes of privatization of public services and strategic sectors, which is another of the demands of the indigenous-led protests.

The protesters are against the president’s economic policies, which they believe are dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“There are good people who are marching for just causes, demands that we have not yet been able to meet,” Lasso acknowledged.

The president again urged all sectors of society to come to the table for talks without mentioning the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) or other groups that have joined the protests.

The demonstrations were called by Conaie Monday following the completion of Lasso’s first year in office.

Several attempts at dialog between the two parties have failed to reach a successful conclusion.

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in the Ecuadorian capital on Friday.

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