Ecuador: 4 already died during indigenous protests – 06/23/2022 – World

Hundreds of indigenous people have occupied a power plant in southern Ecuador amid 11-day protests against the government of President Guillermo Lasso and rising fuel prices. In Quito, indigenous people tried to invade Congress, but were dispersed by the police.

The Minister of Energy and Mines, Xavier Vera, told a local radio on Thursday (23) that about 300 people from different indigenous and peasant communities took part in the action at the plant located in the province of Tungurahua, 150 km from Quito. He did not say whether the facility remains busy.

The occupation began on Wednesday night (22) peacefully, but later the operators “were kidnapped”, according to Vera, for refusing to suspend electricity service. Even so, the plant did not interrupt the supply of electricity.

“This is neither trivial nor random. I believe that there is a macabre intelligence work, because this substation is essential”, said the minister. An eventual power cut could impact the city of Guayaquil, the country’s commercial center and capital of the province of Guayas, with 2.7 million inhabitants.

Four people have already died amid the repression against the demonstrations, according to the Alliance of Human Rights Organizations. Another 92 protesters were injured and 94 taken away by police.

Local authorities, meanwhile, claim that 117 security agents were injured. On Wednesday, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said that 18 police officers had disappeared after an attack allegedly carried out by indigenous people against military installations in Puyo, 260 km from the capital.

Under pressure, Lasso took the first step towards resuming dialogue with the protesters. Isolated with Covid, the president gave in to one of the claims and ordered the departure of military personnel from the Casa da Cultura, a symbolic place for indigenous people in downtown Quito. “It’s a triumph of the struggle,” said indigenous leader Leonidas Iza with a megaphone, as he advanced towards the square of the cultural center.

Still, new calls for acts were made this Thursday, and the conflict seems far from over. The protesters are calling for a reduction in the price of gasoline, the renegotiation of rural workers’ debts with banks, more jobs and an end to the granting of mining licenses on indigenous lands.

Lasso considers part of the claims unfeasible and refuses to revoke the state of exception that governs six provinces and the capital, another indigenous demand. The measure empowers the president to mobilize the Armed Forces to maintain internal order, suspend citizens’ rights and decree a curfew.

The mobilizations are largely led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), which also participated in the waves of protests that led to the fall of three presidents between 1997 and 2005. capital, Quito.

The price of a gallon of diesel in the country rose 90%, reaching US$ 1.90 (R$ 9.75), and that of gasoline, 46%, reaching US$ 2.55 (R$ 13) in one year. . Since last October, the values ​​have been frozen after popular pressure, but Conaie claims they reach US$ 1.50 and US$ 2.10, respectively.​

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