Several thousand indigenous Ecuador they arrived on monday Quito on the eighth day of protests against fuel prices, denounced by the president William Lasso to seek “chaos” and try to remove him from power.
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After the march entered the capital, Lasso extended the state of emergency that had been in force since Saturday in the provinces of Pichincha (whose capital is Quito), Cotopaxi and Imbabura, to the Andean Chimborazo and Tungurahua, and the Amazonian Pastaza.
“This decision protects the well-being of citizens against violence. At the same time, the rights of those who demonstrate peacefully are protected, ”said the government house through its Communications secretariat.
On foot, on motorcycles and in overcrowded trucks, the natives began a peaceful march from the Cutuglagua sector, at the southern entrance to the capital, where they have progressively gathered since Sunday.
A hundred Indians also entered from the north.
The head of the long caravan had advanced about 5 km towards the center of the city, of three million inhabitants, awaiting instructions from the leadership, according to the protesters.
The opposition Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), which participated in revolts that overthrew three presidents between 1997 and 2005, has been promoting marches in Quito and other cities for a week, and blocking routes to demand from the Executive a reduction in fuel prices. .
The gallon of diesel rose 90% (to $1.90) and that of regular gasoline by 46% (to $2.55) in almost a year. Since last October prices have been frozen by social pressure.
The Conaie, led by Leonidas Iza since 2021, claims to lower them to 1.50 and 2.10 dollars, respectively.
Lasso accused the indigenous movement on Monday of intending to end his government, which began in May 2021.
“We have reached out, we have called for dialogue, but they do not want peace, they seek chaos, they want to throw out the president,” the president declared in a video released on his Twitter account.
– “Until the last consequences” –
To agree to talk, the indigenous people, who represent more than a million of the 17.7 million Ecuadorians, ask the government to meet a list of 10 demands. The list also includes a moratorium on the payment of peasant debts to banks, the control of agricultural prices, more employment, the suspension of mining concessions in indigenous territories and more budget for health, education and security.
But Lasso has emphasized that the fuel reduction is not negotiable.
In the caravan, which occupied the two lanes of a large avenue, were men and women with children in their arms. Some carried flags of Ecuador and others sticks and shields of wood and metal.
The Popular Front, which brings together various social organizations, joined the march. “Lasso out, out,” the protesters shouted.
“We are a people and we have to be here until the last consequences,” Víctor Taday, an indigenous man from the province of Chimborazo (south) who lives in Quito, told AFP.
Taday, a 50-year-old taxi driver, joined the protest, considering that the cost of fuel has made life more expensive.
His wish is that Lasso, a former right-wing banker, “go away”.
In one week the demonstrations left 63 agents injured and another 21 held and released, according to the Police.
The Alliance of Organizations for Human Rights reported in turn 79 detainees and 55 civilians injured.
The Salesian University, in the north of the capital, decided on Monday to “open the doors” of its facilities as a “zone of peace and humanitarian reception” for the indigenous people and called “to put down actions and attitudes that interfere or alter the processes of dialogue and the search for solutions.
Traditionally, the indigenous people stayed in the House of Ecuadorian Culture (CCE), also in the north, but the day before the entity was occupied by the Police, who requisitioned it.
Personnel from the Order Maintenance Unit were installed there “in the face of threats from social groups that use violence as a form of protest,” said the police institution.