Ecuador’s Protest and Its Aftermaths…
Ecuador has been brought to a paralytic state after two weeks of violent protests over rising fuel and food costs. The rising cost of living has fueled unrest across Latin America due to rising inequality.
Over the course of the two weeks of protest, protestors blocked highways, set cars on fire, and threw stones at police officers while the police attempted to use tear gas to disperse the crowds. It is reported that at least five people have died as a result of these protests.
According to Ecuador’s health ministry, two individuals died in ambulances that were held up by traffic jams. There are reportedly 12 injured police officers.
Ecuador’s influential Indigenous organization, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), launched the protests on June 13th, with 10 demands in response to the rising cost of living.
Some of these demands include a reduction on fuel costs, a suspension of bank debt, fertilizer subsidies, and a restriction on mining in Indigenous territory.
Even though Ecuador’s conservative president, Guillermo Lasso, attempted to start negotiations last week, CONAIE’s leader, Leonidas Iza, ruled out dialogue on Friday, June 24th, citing prior failures.
Iza stated over the phone from Ecuador on Friday, “We have told the president that we won’t go to another dialogue to be humiliated and mistreated.”
The Indigenous movement has been portrayed by the government as the internal enemy, he claimed. “We requested that [Lasso] publicly address the list of requests in place of engaging in negotiation.”
In a televised address on Friday, June 24th, Lasso stated that the Indigenous leader “can no longer control the situation” and that “Mr. Iza’s real objective is to overthrow the government.” He pointed out that criminals who have joined the demonstration are causing excessive violence.
Still on Protest in Ecuador…
Iza retorted that Lasso was trying to “make a political issue” out of the protests since he had been unable to resolve the issues. Six provinces, including the capital Quito, continued to be under a state of emergency.
Amidst this escalating violence, Americas Amnesty International’s director Erika Guevara Rosas has stated that the organization’s investigations revealed that the death of a protester last Tuesday “was caused by security force agents, most likely police officers, through the use of excessive force.”
The economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and the rising prices of fuel, cooking oil, bread, and fertilizer due to global inflation have made the government’s austerity measures—which are part of a $6.5 billion pact with the International Monetary Fund—worse.
Iza has stated that there is a massive uproar among the populace as witnessed, particularly among those without jobs. According to Ecuador’s statistics institute, unemployment skyrocketed during the epidemic, and recovery has been gradual, with only 33.2% of Ecuadorians in formal employment and 22.1% underemployed.
Miguel Terán, a mechanical engineer who was unable to get to work as a result of the roadblocks, has lamented that “With all the prices rising so dramatically, it’s incredibly challenging to live.
” Terán added that people were upset about the paltry investment in health and education and that since fuel prices had increased, all basic goods had also increased in price.
Ecuadorians across the globe have watched the crisis in their nation get worse over the past two weeks. One citizen said, “I hope that both parties [the CREO and CONAIE] come to a mutual consensus about the needs that both communities require.
I don’t believe there is much that the Ecuadorian government can do about gas prices since it is something that is affecting the world as a whole. However, where I do see fault in the president’s action is that he isn’t raising the earned wages for agriculture workers who consistently produce.
More insight on Still on Protest in Ecuador…
Their earnings do not match the level of economy the government views it to be and, therefore, the indigenous community arose to protest, blocking important industrial roads, and demanding the president resign for his wrongdoings. President Lasso has been in office for about a year and has raised the value of petroleum and other housing goods.
The CONAIE has had enough and demands the president to do more for the people who produce their goods. If the agricultural community just stopped producing, where would the upper class go to retrieve their agricultural goods? Peru? Colombia?
The Ecuadorian country is already facing challenging economic times and exporting unnecessary agricultural goods will put the country’s financial status into a greater stage of debt.
Iza stated that while the business elite had gotten government bailouts after the pandemic, “for the poorest, there is simply nothing.”
He has made a clarion call to all Ecuadorians, stating that not only the poor should bear the burden of the crisis, but rather all Ecuadorians should get involved in the demonstration.
On Thursday, June 30th, an agreement was reached between Francisco Jimenez, government minister, and Iza. The deal included a decrease in the cost of fuel as well as a limit on oil exploration on indigenous lands and other protected areas.
Monsignor Luis Cabrera, head of the Episcopal Conference who was present at the signing of the agreement, said, “Social peace will only be able to be achieved, hopefully soon, through dialogue with particular attention paid to marginalized communities, but always respecting everyone’s rights. If state policies do not resolve the problem of the poor, then the people will rise up.”