The Ecuadorian army promises to stop protests that damage democracy, writes Reuters

The Ecuadorian army promises to stop protests that damage democracy, writes Reuters

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© Reuters. Protesters gather in the streets as Indigenous protesters from all over Ecuador march through the capital Quito to call on President Guillermo Lass to agree to requests for economic and social support, in Quito, Ecuador, June 20, 2022. REUTERS / Karen Toro

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Author: Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) – The Ecuadorian armed forces said on Tuesday they would not allow ongoing protests against President Guillermo Lass’s economic policies to damage the country’s democracy as indigenous protesters clashed with security forces in Quito.

Thousands of protesters marched in Quito last week demanding a list of concessions from Lasso, including lower fuel prices, halting the expansion of oil production and mining, more time for farmers to pay debts and increasing health care budgets.

The government has responded to requests in communication with Indigenous leaders and is awaiting a response. He also accepted offers of mediation from civil society organizations, it said.

Security forces and protesters clashed in the capital on Tuesday afternoon, with some protesters throwing batons. Security forces responded by firing tear gas and non-lethal missiles, according to a Reuters witness.

The prosecution said in a statement that his main office was attacked, but it was not specified who.

Protests erupted for the first time last October after Lasso, a conservative former banker, froze the prices of the most commonly used gasoline and diesel at higher rates than before he took office. The situation calmed down after the government opened negotiations, but the leaders of the natives say that they do not listen to their concerns.

Police Commander Fausto Salinas told reporters that security forces seized cans of diesel and gasoline from some protesters, as well as sharp weapons.

Eighty people were arrested and more than 100 members of the security forces were injured, he added.

Lasso, who has repeatedly blamed drug gangs for growing violence, on Monday extended the state of emergency ordinance – used at a time of public disorder – to six provinces from the previous three.

Protesters in the largest city of Guayaquil told Reuters they were affected by high prices of food and other basic groceries.

At least 55 protesters were injured last week.

Residents of the capital woke up and discovered that some roads were closed and parts of the public transport system were closed. The main highways in Quito have been blocked since the protests started a week ago, and the city airport announced that some flights were affected.

“The armed forces will not allow the constitutional order to be violated or any action against democracy and the laws of the republic,” Defense Minister Luis Lara told reporters, accompanied by military commanders.

“We call on Ecuadorians for national unity,” he said, adding that drug traffickers and organized crime were behind the violence at the protests.

Indigenous leaders blamed poverty and inequality for the uprising.

“No one is against anyone. We are against corruption, an injustice that has caused the deterioration of most Ecuadorian society,” said Leonidas Iza, leader of CONAIE, an indigenous group.

Fuel subsidies cost the government about $ 2.8 billion a year.

The protests prevented the production of about 189,000 barrels of crude oil, the energy ministry said in a statement, extending the declaration of force majeure that state oil Petroecuador included to private operators.



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