Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Will protests in Ecuador force the president to resign? I Inside Story

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas can as people blocking a road clash with soldiers during protests after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies in Lasso Ecuador Ecuador protesters storm parliament as unrest worsens
Patty Aguilar | 09 October, 2019, 21:39

Public schools nationwide have been temporarily closed during the unrest, along with public transport in the capital city.

A substantial police presence was seen in the areas surrounding the national assembly, where security forces clashed with demonstrators wielding stones, sticks and other improvised weapons. The clashes injured 19 civilians and 43 police officers, authorities said.

In a previous address Monday night, Moreno called for dialogue to resolve the political crisis, but he would not budge from his decision to cut the fuel subsidies.

"Under no circumstance", Moreno said in an interview with domestic TV channel Teleamazonas late on Tuesday.

Facing the biggest challenge to his two-and-a-half-year rule, President Lenin Moreno has declared a state of emergency and relocated government operations to the coastal city of Guayaquil where there has been less trouble. Moreno has received "firm backing" for his handling of the unrest from seven Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina and Peru, according to Peru's foreign ministry.

The elimination of the gasoline and diesel subsidies, which cost close to $1.4 billion annually, was welcomed by the International Monetary Fund and Moody's Investors Service.

Thus, Moreno claims that the "destabilization plan" is based on the intrigues of Correa and Maduro.

"I would have to be a candidate for something, for example, vice president", he said. "All we need is a little bit of understanding from the Ecuadorean people".

The police - some on horseback, motorbike, or in armored vehicles - responded with tear gas and billy clubs.

Officials say the number of arrests has risen to 570.

Moreno blames Rafael Correa (his predecessor) and President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

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Moreno says, "The lootings, vandalism and violence show there is an organized political motive here to destabilize the government, and break the constitutional order, break democratic order".

Speaking in Belgium, where he lives in self-exile, Correa told Reuters the accusation against him was nonsense.

"They are such liars".

"They want to turn Ecuador into Venezuela", Roldan said.

"People couldn't take it anymore, that's the reality", he said, referring to economic belt-tightening measures.

Carrying out what they called "civil disobedience" in response to the government's "closed-door agreement" with the IMF, Indigenous groups took to the streets in further protest, according to The Associated Press.

With protesters swarming around Quito, various government buildings were attacked overnight, authorities said.

In one confused incident, two people fell from a bridge in Quito during confrontations between police and protesters.

The unrest has affected oil output in the OPEC member.

Protesters seized some oil installations and the state oil company, Petroecuador, warned that production losses could reach 165,000 barrels a day, or almost one-third of total production, if insecurity continues.

Although he enjoys the support of business and the military, Moreno's popularity has sunk to under 30%, compared with 70% after his 2017 election.

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