Quito ( Associated Press) – President Guillermo Lasso on Friday declared a state of emergency in three provinces in Ecuador’s central-northern Andean region and announced social and economic care measures after a week of paralysis by indigenous peoples.
In a speech on national television, the president said that, faced with calls for dialogue, “the response was more violence. There is no intention of finding a solution. They say they fight for the cost of living, but they close roads that lead to shortages, price hikes and speculation; They say they want to improve health services, but they block the passage of ambulances.”
“I promise to defend our capital and defend the country,” he said, declaring a state of emergency from midnight on Friday, which means some constitutional rights are suspended. Which were not specified.
He announced that, in order to alleviate the difficult economic situation of Ecuadorians, the bonus for the poor would be increased from 50 to $55, 50% of the price of urea would be subsidized for small and medium-sized producers, until the overdue debt was raised by the State. A farm loan of up to $3,000 from Bank Benecuador, up to $5,000 at 1% and a term of 30 years, and fuel prices will remain frozen. The budget for intercultural education will also be doubled, a state of emergency will be declared in the public health system and state companies will not be privatized.
Exceptions would apply in the provinces of Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Imbabura, where highways have been blocked during protests, particularly the Pan-American Highway.
These announcements include some requests made by the Confederation of Powerful Indigenous Nationalities, the largest of its kind, which has led to a national strike since Monday that has mainly affected the country’s central-northern region. The protesters are demanding a reduction in the price of petrol from $2.55 a gallon to $2.10. They also demand the suspension of the fixation by decree of prices of agricultural products and expansion of mining and oil limits.
The indigenous leader, Leonidas Iza, who has consistently refused to speak with the government, was arrested on Tuesday for inciting the ongoing protests. He was released the next day, but would face trial in July for the alleged offense of paralysis of the public service.
In the social network, Iza declared: “Our demands are public and we need public answers”, and specified that the logistics situation would be coordinated for a final mobilization to Quito within 48 hours. He said the struggle would continue indefinitely at the national level “until the government responded to the demands of the Swadeshi movement.”
In 2019, threats to the capital by demonstrators sparked two weeks of violent protests that brought the government of then-President Lenin Moreno (2017-2021) to the brink of overthrown, who vowed to eliminate part of the state. had decided. Subsidy for fuel. He withdrew after protest.
Recent demonstrations have been characterized by vandalism, the looting of small businesses and food trucks, attacks on private vehicles and ambulances, attacks on retailers and private vehicles, as well as the extortion of funds from the center from producers of flowers and other export products. – In the north of the country.
During the night, hundreds of people gathered in the north of Quito to protest and reject attacks by indigenous peoples, before which the capital’s mayor, Santiago Garderas, asked the government to increase police numbers in the city to avoid attacks. On the heritage assets… The Government Palace, in the historic centre, is surrounded by a fence with a strong police force.
Some time ago, Lasso said that the country “sees how violence, anarchy, barbarism want to govern, and I believe that the Democrats have three tools: first the constitution and the law, then the public force.. . and third our ability to hear”. He also warned that “within the framework of the law to prevent passion from becoming more violent, we seek to use progressive use of force to protect all who wish to act.”
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