Fresh violence in Ecuador’s capital as Indigenous protesters continue

Kongsikan Berita Ini

BOGOTA: Violent clashes between Indigenous protesters and police continued for a second straight day in Ecuador’s capital Friday, after the country’s president accused demonstrators of seeking to overthrow him.

Nearly two weeks into protests that have left six people dead and dozens injured, thousands of demonstrators angry at rising fuel prices threw rocks and Molotov cocktails and shot off fireworks near the congress building in Quito.

Security forces repelled protesters with tear gas and clashes eventually stopped late in the evening, according to AFP reporters on the scene.

“The real intention of these violent people is to stage a coup,“ President Guillermo Lasso said in a speech earlier Friday in which he again offered dialogue to end the protests.

An estimated 14,000 protesters are taking part in a nationwide show of discontent against rising hardship in an economy hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the ire is concentrated in the capital Quito, where some 10,000 people, most from other parts of the country, are protesting.

Six of the country’s 24 provinces are under a state of emergency and a night-time curfew is in place in Quito.

Protesters are demanding a cut in already subsidized fuel prices, which have risen sharply in recent months, as well as jobs, food price controls, and more public spending on healthcare and education.

But the action has been costly, with losses of some $50 million per day to the economy, and production of fuel — Ecuador’s biggest export — halved, according to the energy ministry.

On Thursday, protesters won a limited concession from Lasso, who granted them access, “for the sake of dialogue and peace,“ to a cultural center emblematic of the Indigenous struggle that had been commandeered by police.

But hours later a group of protesters headed for Congress, where police fired tear gas in response to a barrage of rocks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails.

The opposition has called for Lasso to be impeached and Congress is due to address that request on Saturday. – AFP