Students join indigenous protest in Ecuador
Update 1: Adds student protests, updates throughout
Quito, Jun 14 (EFE).- University student groups in Ecuador on Tuesday joined an indefinite protest against the government’s economic policy called by the indigenous movement.
The arrest of Leonidas Iza, an indigenous leader and chief organizer of this week’s protests against Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, further heightened tensions in the country and led to calls for more radical action.
Demonstrators and police officers clashed in several parts of the country, especially in the city of Latacunga.
Meanwhile, students attacked a police patrol vehicle in an area of central-north Quito on the second day of protests that began with Iza’s arrest at dawn.
Members of the Federation of University Students of Ecuador and other social groups held a march Tuesday evening in Quito, adding Iza’s immediate release of Iza to the 10 demands of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, the country’s largest indigenous organization.
These demands include freezing gasoline costs at a lower price, control of prices of consumer products and opposition to a privatization plan, all of which are linked, according to the protesters, to conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund.
During the march, several young people with covered faces pelted stones and sticks at a police patrol vehicle near a building from where the Public Prosecutor Office’s flagrant unit operates.
The group sprayed color on the vehicle and lit a fire inside, which was put out by police officers who dispersed the demonstrators.
Several students were detained by plainclothes officers who were in the crowd when several police motorcycles arrived to break up the demonstration.
Live streams on social media showed the arrival in Quito of trucks carrying indigenous protesters from the south of the city.
One of the main protest sites was in the city of Latacunga, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Quito, where Iza, the confederation’s president, was going to be tried.
Thousands gathered to demand that Iza be released from detention, which they described as arbitrary and illegal due to an alleged violation of due process.
The government of conservative President Guillermo Lasso has justified the arrest of several leaders, who it says were responsible for planning or perpetrating “violent acts” such as the torching of police vehicles and the alleged paralysis of oil extraction wells in the Amazon.
Lasso said he is willing to talk with protesters but added that he would not tolerate any disruption of public services in the country as Ecuador tries to reactivate its economy after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. EFE