NewsWorldIn Ecuador, indigenous protesters keep the pressure on power

In Ecuador, indigenous protesters keep the pressure on power

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Published on: 06/23/2022 – 08:12 On the tenth day of mobilization in Ecuador against rising fuel prices, thousands of indigenous people demonstrated on Wednesday in the streets of Quito. The capital is still partly paralyzed on Thursday, while the government refuses to lift the state of emergency declared in six of the 24 provinces of the country, as demanded by the indigenous movement as a prerequisite for the opening of negotiations. Thousands of indigenous people maintain pressure on the government in Quito on Thursday, June 23, after ten consecutive days of demonstrations that left two dead and dozens injured in an increasingly tense showdown between the government and Ecuadorian protesters. The capital has been partly paralyzed since Monday by around 10,000 indigenous demonstrators from across the country who take to the streets daily to protest against the cost of living and demand more social assistance, in a context of growing economic difficulties. To cries of “Lasso out!” in reference to the Head of State, Guillermo Lasso, protesters burned tires and tree branches, while barbed wire and military guards protected the Presidential Palace.”We are experiencing an economic crisis in the countryside, there is no there is no development there, there are no jobs, we are just farmers and our women [vivent de la production] milk,” 42-year-old Olmedo Ayala told AFP. “Blood on their hands” The powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), which participated in the revolts that overthrew three presidents between 1997 and 2005 and led violent demonstrations in 2019 (11 dead), has been organizing marches and barricades since June 13 to demand lower fuel prices. Its leader, Leonidas Iza, who accuses the government of having “blood on their hands”, demands, prior to any discussion, the abrogation of the state of emergency declared in 6 of the 24 provinces of the country, as well as the “demilitarization” of a park in Quito occupied by the police and traditionally used as a meeting point to the natives.The Minister of Governmental Affairs, Francisco Jimenez, refused to accept him. “We cannot lift the state of emergency because that would leave the capital defenceless”, he estimated. We already know what happened in October 2019 and we are not going to allow”, he underlined, in reference to the invasion of Parliament, the fire of a government building and many damaged public goods.In power since May 2021, President Lasso, who accuses the protesters of wanting overthrow him, said on Tuesday that he accepted “a process of frank and respectful dialogue with Conaie and other civil organizations”. The presidency announced on the night of Wednesday to Thursday that he had been detected positive for Covid- 19, but presented “no symptoms”. The government blames the demonstrators for the attack on a police station in the town of Puyo, in the province of Pastaza. The attackers set fire to the building overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, while the police were still inside. “Six police officers were seriously injured, three are held hostage (by an indigenous community) and 18 are missing” , Interior Minister Patricio Carillo said during a press conference in Quito. A branch of a bank was also set on fire and other buildings ransacked, according to the minister. violence that a demonstrator was killed and his death announced on Tuesday evening. He died after having “handled an explosive device” according to the police, “hit in the face, apparently by a tear gas grenade”, according to an NGO. “The violence of Puyo shows that they do not want dialogue” , denounced the minister, who nevertheless “launched once again a public call for dialogue to the indigenous movement and to these radical groups responsible for these senseless acts”. International call for dialogueThe Alliance of Human Rights Organizations reports at least 90 injured and 87 arrested since the protests began. The police put forward a toll of 101 police and soldiers injured and 80 civilians arrested. On the night of Monday to Tuesday, a first demonstrator died after a fall, but the prosecution decided to open an investigation for presumed homicide. US Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Brian Nichols, on Twitter on Wednesday called for “a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the protests in Ecuador” and called on all parties to refrain from violence. American States (OAS) urged dialogue to “address the demands” of the protesters. In addition to the price of fuel, the demonstrators denounce the lack of jobs, the granting of mining concessions in the indigenous territories, the absence of control of the prices of agricultural products and demand a renegotiation of the debts of the peasants with the banks. natives make up at least 1 million of the 17.7 million Ecuadorians. With AFP

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