Protests in Ecuador Continue as Government Flees Capital City
Protests in Ecuador continue as the Ecuadorian people protest President Lenín Moreno’s removal of a gasoline subsidy which had been in place “for 40 years”. Ecuadorian President Moreno said the removal of the gas subsidy will create “more work, more entrepreneurship and better opportunities… boosting economic growth and employment”. The subsidy removal correlates with a US $4.2 Billion agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “to create a more dynamic, sustainable, and inclusive economy” by reducing “debt-to-GDP ratio through a combination of a wage bill realignment, a careful and gradual optimization of fuel subsidies, a reprioritization of capital and goods and services spending, and a tax reform.”
A mass strike led by Ecuador’s transport union ensued across the country in response to the gas subsidy repeal, leading to the arrest of “more than ninety people” in one day. Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office says people were “arrested for committing violent acts”, “alleged crimes of robbery”, “carrying weapons, drug possession and illicit association.” Among those arrested was Jorge Calderon, leader of the taxi drivers’ union, “for the stoppage of a public service”.
Following the protests, President Moreno announced an “estado de excepción”, which is essentially a national emergency, and reaffirmed that there “is no possibility of [reinstalling the] perverse subsidy that was causing damage to the country”. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONAIE, fired back at the President by announcing their own “estado de exepcion en todos los territorios indigenas” where “military and police who are… in indigenous territories will be held and subjected to indigenous justice.” A CONAIE-led group then marched onto the captial city of Quito, to which President Moreno declared he “had temporarily moved government operations to the” city of Guayaquil.
In a televised address yesterday, Moreno placed blame for the protests on former President Correa and Venezulean President Nicolás Maduro, saying they “must respond to justice and the country for destabilizing this democratic government.” The former President Correa has denied the allegation.