News ID: 322356
Published: 0322 GMT June 18, 2022

Ecuador declares state of emergency amid Indigenous protests

Ecuador declares state of emergency amid Indigenous protests

Riot police clear a blockade on the highway to Quito airport during Indigenous-led protests against high fuel prices and living costs in Quito, Ecuador, on June 17, 2022.

Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in three provinces late Friday in response to protests by Indigenous people demanding cuts in fuel prices.

"I am committed to defending our capital and our country," Lasso said on television. One of the three provinces includes the capital Quito, AFP reported. The decree enables the president to call out the armed forces to maintain order, suspend civil rights and declare curfews.

Indigenous people, who make up over a million of Ecuador's 17.7 million inhabitants, launched an open-ended anti-government protest Monday that has since been joined by students, workers and other supporters.

They have blocked roads across the country including highways leading into Quito.

Clashes with security forces during the protests have left at least 43 people injured and 37 have been arrested.

To ease grassroots anger, Lasso also announced in his address late Friday a small increase in a monthly subsidy paid to Ecuador's poorest, as well as a program to ease the debt of those who have loans from state-run banks.

Oil producer Ecuador has been hit by rising inflation, unemployment and poverty exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lasso, a rightwing ex-banker who took office a year ago, had met Thursday with Indigenous leaders to assuage discontent but the discussions apparently yielded nothing.

The powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), which called for the protests, has said it would maintain the blockades until the government meets a list of 10 demands.

Fuel prices in Ecuador have risen sharply since 2020, almost doubling for diesel from $1 to $1.90 per gallon (3.8 liters) and rising from $1.75 to $2.55 for petrol.





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