Crime & Justice

Social groups fuel indigenous protests in Ecuador

Quito, Jun 16 (EFE).- Students, unions and other social groups marched through the historic center of Quito on Thursday as part of an indefinite strike against President Guillermo Lasso’s government by the indigenous movement that seems to be gaining momentum in the capital.

The demonstrators paraded through the central streets of the city under heavy police presence, which prevented protesters from reaching the Plaza de Santo Domingo.

Minor clashes have occurred during the protests that began on Monday and in which several civilian groups are demanding freezing gasoline costs at a lower price and control of prices of consumer products, among other things.

The demonstrators chanted “Out, Lasso, Out” and slogans for an increased budget for education, health and against the privatization of state enterprises.

They also criticized the economic policies suggested by the International Monetary Fund and the absence of public works during Lasso’s term, which began just over a year ago.

Many of the demonstrators were wrapped in Ecuador’s flag and played vuvuzelas loudly during the peaceful march to the vicinity of the Plaza de Santo Domingo.

Dozens of riot police officers, on foot and on motorcycles, stood guard on all four sides of the plaza and used tear gas to prevent the demonstrators from gathering there.

As night fell, most of the protesters, including dozens of young people and members of the National Union of Educators managed to enter the plaza, where they began dancing to the chants of “Out, Lasso.”

The president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), Leonidas Iza, who was arrested early Tuesday on charges of paralyzing public services and released on bail the following day, said that the indefinite and national strike would continue until Lasso paid attention to the list of 10 demands that Conaie has submitted to the government.

Among the main demands are fuel price cuts, an increase in prices of bananas and milk producers, as well as respect for some 20 rights that protect indigenous people, especially in view of the government’s plans to increase oil and mining activity in the country.

“As long as we do not have this response, we will continue protesting throughout the national territory until the government awakens from its indifference,” said Iza, who described the demands as “completely viable.”

At least 20 people have been arrested during the demonstrations and 32 injured, including 22 reported by Conaie and 10 by the armed forces. EFE


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