Quito, Aug 11 (EFE).- The United Front of Workers (FUT) and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) on Wednesday held the first protest against the government of conservative president Guillermo Lasso, who assumed power in May and inherited a country in crisis.
The demonstration of the largest labor union in Ecuador, 80 days after the new president took office, counted on the determined presence of the indigenous organization, which has called on the president to discard the policies of his predecessor, Lenín Moreno.
The march, which took place peacefully in Quito except for sporadic clashes between protesters and police, was called to demand the repeal of an executive decree inherited from Moreno that has caused a rise in fuel prices in recent months.
The protest coincided with the government announcement that the price of “extra” or regular gasoline will rise on Thursday, to $2.28 dollars per gallon (3.78 liters), 10 cents more than in July and 48 cents more than a year ago.
The price of diesel, widely used in mass transport, has gone from $1 last July to $1.60 from Thursday.
The main trade union of Ecuador describe these types of economic strategies as neoliberal and say they are part of the conditions that the International Monetary Fund has imposed on the country since the Moreno administration entered into a multibillion-dollar financing deal with the organization.
On Tuesday, in a ceremony on the occasion of Ecuador’s national day, Lasso assured that the country is about to receive another billion dollars “without commitment or ties.”
The demonstration, which was also held in other cities of the country such as the port of Guayaquil, took place peacefully, although there was an incident in Quito when protesters who were clashing with police officials were attacked by police dogs.
Leonidas Iza, indigenous leader and president of Conaie, called for the unity of social organizations to confront the neoliberal policies of Moreno.
In October 2019, a presidential decree to eliminate historic gasoline subsidies sparked a massive protest which claimed the lives of at least six people and caused injuries to some 1,500 as well as severe economic losses. The protests were quelled with the repeal of the decision.
However, Iza, one of the leaders of that protest, said that Wednesday’s demonstration was not a threat to the government, but that it should understand that if the economic problems that affect most of the population are not resolved, “there will be more social backlash.”
He also reproached Lasso for generating policies that benefit the wealthy, but that rural and urban workers carry the burden of.
“The crisis is not resolved by generating more crises,” added the indigenous leader, who said that the incessant increase in fuel prices is the main trigger for the high cost of living.
“More than 57 percent of the economically active population does not have a job,” but even this section is “living with high fuel prices,” he said. EFE