Quito, Jun 26 (EFE).- Ecuador’s president on Sunday announced that a humanitarian convoy was attacked with explosives in the south of the country, where indigenous-led protests against the cost of living entered the 14th day.
“The humanitarian convoy that was going to Cuenca was attacked with explosives in Molleturo. Hooligans!! They cannot put the lives of citizens at risk. I call for peace,” President Guillermo Lasso said.
“You cannot play with the lives of Ecuadorians. The lack of oxygen for hospitals in Cuenca is critical,” he added in relation to the city located in the south of the Andes.
The health ministry said in a statement that the closure of access roads to Cuenca, especially in the Molleturo area, “is directly affecting the supply of oxygen to hospitals and health centers.”
“Tankers are not allowed to enter the city, putting the lives of patients at risk,” the ministry said.
It added that the Vicente Corral Moscoso Hospital, which provides care to the population of southern Ecuador, is especially affected.
“The oxygen capacity at this time is 1,480 kilograms, which puts us in an emergency situation because the supply will only last until Tuesday,” it warned.
Cuenca’s health ministry official Andrea Bersosa urged the collaboration of the population of Molleturo in order to allow oxygen tankers and trucks carrying medical supplies to pass to supply hospitals, especially those in Cuenca.
On Sunday, Leonidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), requested the intervention of the Red Cross to set up a logistics corridor.
In a video broadcast on social media, Iza addressed his supporters and assured them that the “fight continues”, but asked them “to guarantee humanitarian logistics corridors in the most supportive manner.”
“We also ask the Red Cross, as a humanitarian organization, to set up a logistics corridor to ensure the passage of medical supplies, ambulances, gas for domestic use, everything that is for emergency use,” he said.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines also warned Sunday that, due to road blockades and acts of vandalism, the production of oil, the main export product of the Andean country, could stop in two days.
Minister Xavier Vera urged those who have blockaded the roads to quit because “if the logistics for the oil wells are not allowed to pass, production will have to be stopped.”
The indigenous-led protests, which began on Jun. 13, have led to the closure of highways and the blocking of roads in various parts of the country.
Demonstrators have also torched police stations and damaged military and police vehicles, among other things.
Peasant organizations have also joined the protests along with unions and student federations.
The protesters’ demands include freezing gasoline costs at a lower price, control of prices of consumer products and opposition to a privatization plan, as well as a moratorium on debt payments and another on the expansion of boundaries for mining/oil operations.
Lasso announced later Sunday that he will drop fuel prices by 10 cents, which is less than protesters have asked for.
So far, five people have died and at least 200 protesters and security force officers have been injured.
Over 100 people have also been arrested, according to human rights organizations.