Quito, Jun 23 (EFE).- The center of this capital was the scene again Thursday of confrontations between Ecuadorian police and protesters unhappy about the soaring cost of living and the economic policies of rightist President Guillermo Lasso.
The hot spot on the 11th straight day of demonstrations was Quito’s El Arbolito park.
In October 2019, the park was the epicenter of an indigenous-led mobilization against the proposed elimination of fuel subsidies that saw resulted in a score of deaths at the hands of security forces.
The day began with a concession from authorities, who allowed activists to hold an assembly at the House of Ecuadorian Culture, adjacent to El Arbolito.
The leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), Leonidas Iza, had made access to the House a condition of accepting the government’s proposal for dialogue.
Once gathered at the House, Iza and representatives of other organizations involved in the protest decided to march to the nearby National Assembly.
During a rally outside the legislative building, Iza and other speakers called on the government to respond to the substantive demands of the protesters by changing its policies.
Those demands include reducing the price of fuel and other essential goods, abandoning plans to privatize state-owned enterprises, and declining to open up more of Amazonia to mining and oil extraction.
“Latin America should know that this is not a struggle of a leader. The problem is not Leonidas Iza,” the Conaie president said, while the chairman of the National Confederation of Peasant Organizations (Fenocin), Gary Espinoza, urged lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings against Lasso.
Espinoza called Lasso’s offer to write-off up to $3,000 in debt for each peasant family a mockery, in light of the National Assembly’s having already approved $10,000 per household in debt forgiveness.
At that point, police moved to disperse the protesters, forcing them to retreat to El Arbolito, which was quickly transformed into a battleground.
Roving teams of volunteer medics tended to people gasping for breath amid the volleys of tear gas, while some among the protesters ventured to grab the gas canisters and deactivate them.
The current unrest has left two protesters dead and at least 200 people – including demonstrators and police – injured, while militants set fire to a police station in the Amazonian city of Puyo. EFE