Quito, Feb 24 (EFE).- Ecuador’s largest indigenous organization gathered here Friday to assess the Andean nation’s political and economic situation and determine whether the government has lived up to the commitments it assumed in the aftermath of the June 2022 protests.
The president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), Leonidas Iza, vowed at the opening ceremony at the House of Ecuadorian Culture in Quito that the participants would be “absolutely responsible” in their decision-making.
“What we’ve decided (in previous occasions), we’ve carried out with street struggles that have even cost the lives of our brother warriors,” Iza said in reference to the 2022 protests against the high cost of living and the economic policies of conservative President Guillermo Lasso.
Those protests lasted for 18 days, brought much of Ecuador to a standstill and led to the deaths of seven people – six demonstrators and one soldier.
The demonstrations ended after the government pledged to reduce the price of subsidized fuel by $0.15 per gallon (3.78 liters), a move that brought the price of 85-octane gasoline and diesel down to $2.40 per gallon and $1.75 per gallon, respectively.
Lasso’s administration also repealed executive orders that had encouraged oil drilling in the country and agreed to subsidize the cost of fertilizers and increase funding for bilingual intercultural education.
Three months of talks then were held on the protesters’ remaining demands. Those negotiations concluded with 218 agreements reached in different sectors, including the forgiveness of outstanding loans of up to $3,000.
The leader of Conaie, which comprises 14 native peoples, once again accused the government of “infiltrating (protests) and creating violence within our ranks to delegitimize the struggles that indigenous peoples have fought for more than 500 years.”
That indigenous gathering is being held at the low point of Lasso’s 21 months in office.
On Feb. 5, Ecuadorians voted down all eight constitutional amendments he proposed, including one to allow the extradition of organized crime bosses to the United States.
In interpreting the results, some analysts have said the vote ended up being a de facto plebiscite on his administration.
Lasso also is under fire over revelations of a purported corruption scheme at state-run companies that has implicated individuals close to his administration.
Ecuador’s indigenous movement and allies of leftist former President Rafael Correa also were big winners in recent local elections held the same day as the constitutional referendum.
The Citizen Revolution Movement that Correa leads won control over nine of Ecuador’s 23 provinces, as well as the mayors’ races in Quito and Guayaquil, the country’s two largest cities.
The left-wing Pachakutik, Conaie’s political arm, came out on top in six provincial races. EFE