Conflicts & War

Ecuador gov’t, indigenous movement reach accord to end protests

Quito, Jun 30 (EFE).- Ecuador’s government and the country’s largest indigenous organization agreed Thursday on a plan to address the causes that spurred nearly three weeks of unrest in which six people died and some 500 others were injured.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) and its allies pledged to end the protests in exchange for a commitment from the government to scrap the state of emergency, reduce fuel prices, and cease granting new mining concessions in environmentally sensitive areas and indigenous territory.

The pact was announced at the seat of the Catholic bishops conference, which prevailed on Conaie and the government to resume talks that President Guillermo Lasso broke off on Tuesday following the death of a soldier in a confrontation with demonstrators.

Lasso’s administration will reduce the cost of fuel at the pump to $2.40 a gallon (3.78 liters) for regular gasoline and $1.75 a gallon for diesel.

Conaie had asked to prices to be rolled back to $2.10 a gallon for gas and $1.50 for diesel.

The document also incorporates concessions made by the government earlier this week, including the withdrawal of a decree promoting expansion of the oil and gas industry in Amazonia, a cut in interest rates, and debt forgiveness for peasant families of up to $3,000 per household.

Other Conaie demands, such as price controls on necessities and a moratorium on privatization of state enterprises, will be reviewed by working groups.

The accord was signed by Government Minister Francisco Jimenez, who represented Lasso in the negotiations, and Conaie leader Leonidas Iza.

Present along with Iza were the heads of the National Confederation of Peasant, Indigenous and Black Organizations (Fenocin), Gary Espinoza, and the Council of Evangelical Indigenous Communities and Organizations (Feine), Eustaquio Toala.

In withdrawing from the dialogue on Tuesday, Lasso had denounced Iza as an “opportunist” who did not represent the interests of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples.

His government will not return to the table until Iza is replaced by “legitimate representatives of all the peoples and nationalities of Ecuador,” the billionaire president said Wednesday, hours after surviving a vote in congress to oust him.

In remarks after putting his signature to the agreement with the government, Iza acknowledged that Conaie did not get everything it wanted, but pointed to “significant gains.”

The Conaie chairman asked authorities to refrain from criminalizing those who took part in the 18 days of protests.

“Enough of stigmatizing and racializing social fighters for social causes. Enough of calling us terrorists,” Iza said, warning the protests will resume if the government does not hold up its end of the accord. EFE fgg/dr

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