Protests in Ecuador: thousands of indigenous protesters tried to enter Congress but the police dispersed them

A demonstrator is transported by his companions in a new day of protest against the measures of President Guillermo Lasso (REUTERS / Adriano Machado)

The The center of Quito once again became the scene of intense clashes between the Ecuadorian Police and the protesters on Thursday who, for the eleventh consecutive day, participate in the protests against the high cost of living and the economic policies of the Government of President Guillermo Lasso.

Thousands of indigenous people tried to enter the Ecuadorian Congress this Thursday but the police dispersed them with tear gas bombs. After celebrating the “recovery” of the emblematic House of Ecuadorian Culture (CCE), that from the June 13th was occupied by police, a large group advanced towards the National Assembly, located a few meters away. The march was led by women.

Under pressure, the uniformed officers reacted with tear gas bombs and stun grenades, while the demonstrators threw stones. The crowd retreated to a park next to the House of Culture.

The police were forcing the demonstrators to retreat to the The Tree Parkwhich was already epicenter of the wave of protests in October 2019, also led that time by the indigenous movement against the elimination of fuel subsidies and which resulted at the national level with a dozen deaths and some 1,500 injuries.

The leader of the demonstrations, Leonidas Iza was surprised while giving an interview that was interrupted by loud detonations. “That’s a really bad sign. we had asked our grassroots that we can just do a peaceful march”, declared Iza, president of the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie).

Clashes between police and protesters in Quito, Ecuador REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Clashes between police and protesters in Quito, Ecuador REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Some 14,000 protesters are mobilized in various parts of the country to demand relief from the high cost of living, made more expensive by the rise in fuel. Only in Quito, some 10,000 indigenous people pressure President Lasso, currently isolated by covid.

House of Culture, negotiated location

The Minister of Government of Ecuador, Francisco Jiménez, announced on Thursday that they will allow the protesters to enter the agora of the House of Ecuadorian Culture, a site they claimed to concentrate in the mobilizations led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie).

The police fired tear gas at the protesters to prevent them from entering the Ecuadorian Congress building (REUTERS / Adriano Machado)
The police fired tear gas at the protesters to prevent them from entering the Ecuadorian Congress building (REUTERS / Adriano Machado)

The entry of the demonstrators to this place to establishing a “popular assembly” was one of the conditions set by the president of the Conaie Leonidas Iza, main promoter of the protests, to agree to go to a dialogue with the Government, along with repealing the state of exception and guaranteeing that all their demands will be addressed.

“It is a triumph of the fight”, Iza had celebrated as she walked early towards the agora of the cultural center.

“Ecuador wants peace, Ecuador needs an immediate solution to this conflict. So that there is no violence, nor excuses, today we are going to allow social organizations, led by Conaie, to convene and meet in the agora of the House of Culture,” Jiménez said in a video recorded message.

In a dollarized economy, where fuels are subsidized, the increase in gasoline and diesel increased freight costs. The indigenous people allege that they are harvesting at a loss.

With information from AFP and EFE

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