Screaming for joy, several thousand natives first entered the House of Culture in Quito in the afternoon, requisitioned for several days by the police, AFP noted.
This cultural center traditionally serves as a meeting point for indigenous people in the capital and its free access was one of the conditions for the demonstrators to begin negotiations.
It’s a struggle victory! greeted, megaphone in hand, the indigenous leader Leonidas Iza, leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie ), the largest indigenous organization in the country.
The government finally authorized the demonstrators to invest this symbolic place
in the interests of dialogue and peaceGovernment Minister Francisco Jiménez said in a video released to the media.
objective is to stop blockades of streets, violent demonstrations and attacks in different placesadded the minister, while the head of state Guillermo Lasso, declared positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, is forced into isolation.
Objective obviously missed since, shortly after, an imposing group of demonstrators, led by women, tried to enter the enclosure of the neighboring parliament.
The police deployed on the spot prevented them by using tear gas and stun grenades. The marchers responded with violence by throwing stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails.
The crowd then retreated to a nearby park.
Cost of living and fuel prices
The leader of the demonstrations, Leonidas Iza, who was there, judged that
this is a very bad sign as we asked our base for a peaceful march.
During the 2019 protests, demonstrators stormed the seat of government and briefly invaded parliament, set fire to the finance inspectorate building and attacked the offices of two media outlets. The natives had then thrown the responsibility on
Nearly 14,000 demonstrators are mobilized across the country to protest against the rising cost of living and demand in particular a drop in fuel prices according to the police, who estimate their number at nearly 10,000 in the capital Quito.
While some of these marches are relatively calm and festive, violence often breaks out in the dark. The capital is partly paralyzed.
The repeal of the state of emergency demanded
On Wednesday, some 300 people seized a major power station in the Andean province of Tungurahua, but without serious damage or disruption of service.
As a prerequisite for any negotiation, the Conaiealso demands the abrogation of the state of emergency in force in 6 of the 24 provinces and in the capital, supported by an important security deployment and a night curfew.
The government rejects this demand and assures that the protesters’ demands, just on fuels, would cost the state more than a billion dollars a year.
They say we’re lazy
I cry to see so many people mistreated by this governmentcomplains Cecilia, an 80-year-old retiree, who waves a sign on which is written:
They say we are lazy, that we don’t produce and that’s why there are shortageslaunches indigenous leader Nayra Chalan on a platform in front of demonstrators.
The natives left their rural communities 11 days ago, but did not arrive in Quito until Monday, hardening the standoff with the government.
The conservative president, in power for a year, sees in this revolt an attempt to overthrow him.
Between 1997 and 2005, three Ecuadorian presidents had to step down under pressure from indigenous peoples.
The demonstrations have left 3 dead and 92 injured, and 94 people have been arrested since the start of the crisis, according to a report Thursday from the Alliance of Human Rights Organizations.
A president supported by the military
In 2019, a wave of protests against the end of fuel price subsidies left 11 dead and thousands injured in clashes with police.
The president at the time, Lenin Moreno, had been forced to reconsider economic measures negotiated with the International Monetary Fund.
President Lasso can however count on the support of the military who warned the demonstrators on Tuesday, accusing them of representing a
serious danger for democracy.