Several thousand people marching on behalf of a powerful lobby of native tribes within Ecuador called the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) entered Quito on Monday night demanding financial concessions from the nation’s federal government. week the magazine reported Tuesday.
The week-long march to the national capital precipitated violent unrest in six Ecuadorian provinces that prompted the government to declare states of emergency across the country, the Colombian magazine reported.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a nightly curfew in Quito on June 20 as the caravan of indigenous lobbyists arrived in the national capital. The conservative leader also extended the state of exception in force since June 18 “in the provinces of Pichincha (whose capital is Quito), Cotopaxi and Imbabura, to the Andean provinces of Chimborazo and Tungurahua, and the Amazon province of Pastaza.” week reported on June 21.
“This decision protects the welfare of citizens against violence. At the same time, the rights of those who demonstrate peacefully are protected,” the Ecuadorian federal government said of the measures through its press secretary.
“We cannot allow a few violent people to prevent millions of Ecuadorians from working. We are not going to allow people to fight people. I am here to defend Quito, all the families of the capital and the country,” President Lasso said in a nationally televised speech on Monday night, according to the Buenos Aires-based news outlet Infobae.
Lasso referred to an indefinite national strike ordered by CONAIE on June 12, apparently to demand various financial concessions from the Ecuadorian federal government, including “setting the price of a gallon of diesel at $1.50 and the price of regular gasoline at $2.10”, according to Infobae.
CONAIE’s dictate included a demand that several thousand people, mostly indigenous, march on Quito. This massive march has caused violent disturbances in at least six provinces during the last eight days and has forced the closure of at least “80 sections of roads blocked by the protests,” Infobae observed on Monday.
The Argentine outlet described caravans of indigenous protesters carrying “weapons, including sticks and shields” marching near Cutuglagua, a parish located 18 miles south of Quito, on their way to the national capital on June 20.
“Ecuador celebrates a week this Monday since the strike began and has already left millions in losses for the productive and tourist sectors, which have been mainly affected by the closure of roads,” Infobae reported on June 20.
“The roadblocks have prevented the trucks that transport vegetables and fruits from the Sierra [mountain range] to the Ecuadorian coast of circular. The consequences, after seven days of road closures, are beginning to be felt in Guayaquil supermarkets, where the hangers for these products are empty,” according to the newspaper.
The CONAIE caravan stepped up its demands on Monday night, calling for the removal of President Lasso despite his efforts to comply with the influential pressure group’s requests. The organization’s 10-point ultimatum includes calls for “food price controls and a commitment to renegotiate the personal bank loans of some four million families,” in addition to the call for fuel price reductions, according to Agence France-Presse. .
“The powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) — [is] credited with helping to topple three presidents between 1997 and 2005,” the news agency noted on Monday.
CONAIE’s influence in Ecuadorian politics seems enormous considering that the natives represent a minority (one million) of the country’s population of 17.7 million.