Ecuador protesters seek reopening of talks

Ecuador protesters seek reopening of talks

Indigenous people make up more than a million of Ecuador's 17.7 million inhabitants
Indigenous people make up more than a million of Ecuador's 17.7 million inhabitants. Photo: Martin BERNETTI / AFP
Source: AFP

Indigenous Ecuadorans marched in central Quito Wednesday to call for a restart of negotiations suspended by the government more than two weeks into disruptive and often violent daily protests against rising living costs.

Chanting: "We don't want ten cents, we want results," several hundred people demonstrated in the city center, near the seat of government which was blocked off by police, metal fencing and razor wire.

A protester with a traditional red poncho leading a group of men with makeshift shields addressed the rest by megaphone: "We will stay here until the President of the Republic reinstates the dialogue."

He added: "If we need to sleep here... we will."

Negotiations to end the protests that have rocked the South American country since June 13 were suspended Tuesday -- on what would have been their second day -- after the government blamed the death of a soldier on demonstrators.

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Un militar muerto y doce heridos, incluidos cinco policías, dejó un ataque de manifestantes registrado el martes en Ecuador, en el marco de protestas indígenas contra el gobierno desde hace dos semanas, informaron las Fuerzas Armadas.

An estimated 14,000 Ecuadorans -- most of them in Quito -- have taken part in a nationwide show of discontent against deepening hardship in an economy dealt a serious blow by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The protests were called by the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), credited with unseating three presidents between 1997 and 2005.

Indigenous people make up more than a million of the South American nation's 17.7 million inhabitants.

The protesters want fuel price cuts, jobs, food price controls and more public spending on healthcare and education.

Economic damage

Over the weekend, President Guillermo Lasso announced concessions in a bid to unlock talks, including a ten-cents-per-gallon cut in diesel and gasoline prices to $1.80 and $2.45 respectively.

The protesters want a reduction to $1.50 for diesel and $2.10 for gasoline.

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Protesters reject Ecuador president's 'insensitive' fuel price cut

Lasso, hours before surviving an impeachment vote, on Tuesday accused Conaie leader Leonidas Iza of self-serving politics and vowed "we will not negotiate with those who hold Ecuador hostage."

One soldier and five demonstrators have died and hundreds have been injured on both sides since the protests began
One soldier and five demonstrators have died and hundreds have been injured on both sides since the protests began. Photo: Martin BERNETTI / AFP
Source: AFP

This came after the military said a soldier died and five police and seven soldiers were injured in an attack by demonstrators on a tanker truck escort in the country's east.

Five demonstrators have died and hundreds on both sides have been wounded in clashes between the security forces and protesters blockading roads and disrupting supply lines.

Some 150 people have been arrested, according to observers.

On Tuesday, Day 16 of the revolt, protesters set alight two police stations in the north of Quito.

The action has been costly, with losses of some $50 million per day to the economy, according to the government, which has warned oil production -- already halved -- could come to a complete halt soon.

Source: AFP

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