Ecuador: agreement between natives and government, end of demonstrations

Ecuador: agreement between natives and government, end of demonstrations

After more than two weeks of blockades and violence that left six people dead, the government and the leaders of the indigenous protests in Ecuador reached an agreement on Thursday to end the demonstrations against the high cost of living which have paralyzed the country for more than two weeks.

Developed under the mediation of the Catholic Church, this agreement provides for a total reduction of 15 cents (dollar) in the price of fuel, one of the main demands of the demonstrators, mainly peasants living in the Andean mountains and the Amazonian part of the country.

“We are going to suspend the movement” of protest, declared Leonidas Iza, the head of the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), spearhead organization of the demonstrations.

“We have achieved the supreme value to which we all aspire: peace in our country. The strike is over”, commented on Twitter the president canner Guillermo Lasso, launching “the task of transforming this peace into progress, into well-being and opportunities for all”.

With a total reduction of 15 cents on fuels, the natives finally obtained an additional 5 cents on the 10 cents already conceded by the government on Sunday. They demanded since the beginning of their “paro” (strike) a drop of 40 cents. Once the measure is in force, a gallon of diesel will cost 1.80 dollars, for 2.40 a gallon of gasoline.

The agreement provides for the establishment of a negotiation committee, the end of blockades and demonstrations throughout the country, and the lifting of the state of emergency in force in four provincial regions.

It also provides, respectively, for the repeal and revision of two decrees, the first on the extension of oil exploitation in the Amazon, the second on mining.

– “Strike over!” –

“The indigenous movement officially considers that the first stage of the #ParoNacionalEcuador is over”, tweeted Conaie, stressing that “the respect of the agreements and commitments signed will be evaluated in 90 days”.

The signing of the document was greeted with cries of joy at the headquarters of the Episcopal Conference in Quito, where the two delegations met on Thursday morning.

The executive suspended talks on Tuesday after an attack in the Amazon in which a soldier was killed. Wednesday evening, he had finally announced his return the next day to the negotiating table, with the mediation of the Church.

Thursday, the government was represented in particular by the Minister of Government Affairs, Francisco Jimenez. Opposite, at least four indigenous delegates were present, including the inevitable Leonidas Iza, red poncho and black felt hat on his long braid of straight hair.

Outside, thousands of indigenous people had gathered since morning, having marched without incident through central Quito. After a brief moment of ebullience, the crowd headed for the Maison de la culture, a cultural center serving as their headquarters, where they celebrated the agreement, with “Long live the struggle!” and deafening concert of vuvuzuela.

The reduction of 15 cents “is not a minor thing”, commented Mr. Iza there in front of the colorful crowd, a concentration of the 13 “nationalities” recognized in Ecuador, brandishing a tide of Ecuadorian flags.

“Subsidies must reach those who need them most. We must put in place a system that really benefits the poorest (…). Long live the struggle! Long live the rebellion!”, He launched.

– “Go home “-

Concert horns were also heard in the city, where many residents, especially in the more affluent northern part, recently expressed their exasperation at the blockages and sometimes the violence of the protesters.

This violence left six dead and more than 600 injured in eighteen days of mobilization in Quito, but also throughout the country.

Far from the cameras, the Amazon, with its many oil installations, was the other epicenter of the movement which caused the production of black gold, the country’s main export product, to fall by almost half.

The dispute has thus weighed heavily on the economy and on the inhabitants, with a rise in prices and the beginning of food and agricultural shortages.

Past mobilizations of the indigenous movement caused the fall of three presidents between 1997 and 2005. In October 2019, more than a week of protest left eleven dead and ended with an agreement signed with the then president.

President Lasso, elected in May 2021, escaped impeachment on Tuesday, after parliament rejected a motion introduced by the opposition party of former socialist president Rafael Correa (2007-2017).

In the evening, groups of natives were already beginning to pack up to return to their communities, following the watchword of their leader: “we are tired (…), it is time to go home”.

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