In Ecuador, police on Thursday (June 24th) dispersed demonstrators who tried to invade the Parliament in Quito, on the eleventh day of indigenous protests against the rising cost of living, which are intensifying. The clashes left one shot dead, a 39-year-old protester, according to the Alliance of Human Rights Organizations, bringing the death toll to four since the start of the crisis.

In the afternoon, several thousand natives first entered, shouting joy, the House of Culture (CCE) in Quito, requisitioned for several days by the police, a noted the Agence France Presse (AFP). This cultural center traditionally serves as a meeting point for indigenous people in the capital and its free access was one of the conditions for the demonstrators to begin negotiations. “It’s a victory of the fight! »greeted megaphone in hand the indigenous leader Leonidas Iza, leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), the largest indigenous organization in the country.

The government finally authorized the demonstrators to invest this symbolic place, “in the interest of dialogue and peace”, said the Minister of Government, Francisco Jiménez, in a video transmitted to the media. L’“objective is to end street blockages, violent demonstrations and attacks in different places”added the minister, while the head of state Guillermo Lasso, diagnosed Wednesday positive for Covid-19, is forced into isolation.

Read also: Ecuador: for the tenth day in a row, thousands of indigenous protesters paralyze the capital Quito to denounce the cost of living

“A very bad sign”

Objective obviously missed, since shortly after, an imposing group of demonstrators, led by women, tried to enter the enclosure of the neighboring Parliament. The police deployed on the spot prevented them by using tear gas and stun grenades. The marchers responded with violence by throwing stones, fireworks and molotov cocktails.

The leader of the demonstrations, Leonidas Iza, who was there, judged that “It’s a very bad sign as we asked our base to make a peaceful march”. The crowd then retreated to a nearby park. During the 2019 protests, demonstrators stormed the seat of government and briefly invaded Parliament, set fire to the building of the Inspectorate of Finance and attacked the premises of two media outlets. The natives had then thrown the responsibility on “infiltrators”.

Nearly 14,000 demonstrators are mobilized across the country to protest against the rising cost of living and demand in particular a drop in fuel prices according to the police, who estimate their number at nearly 10,000 in the capital Quito. While some of these marches are relatively calm and festive, violence often breaks out in the dark. The capital is partly paralyzed. On Wednesday, some 300 people had taken control of a major power station in the Andean province of Tungurahua (in the south), but without any serious damage or interruption of service.

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President Lasso accused of “lying”

Prior to any negotiation, Conaie also demands the repeal of the state of emergency in force in six of the twenty-four provinces and in the capital, supported by a major security deployment and a night curfew. The government rejects this demand and assures that the demands of the demonstrators, just on fuel, would cost the State more than a billion dollars a year.

“I cry to see so many people mistreated by this government”complains Cecilia, an 80-year-old retiree, who waves a sign on which is written: “Liar Lasso”. “They say we are lazy, that we don’t produce and that’s why there are shortages”, launches indigenous leader Nayra Chalan on a platform in front of demonstrators. The natives left their rural communities eleven days ago, but did not arrive in Quito until Monday, hardening the standoff with the government. The conservative president in power for a year sees in this revolt an attempt to overthrow him.

Between 1997 and 2005, three Ecuadorian presidents had to leave power under pressure from the natives. In 2019, a previous wave of protests against the end of fuel price subsidies left eleven dead and thousands injured in clashes with police. The president at the time, Lenin Moreno, had been forced to reconsider economic measures negotiated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). President Lasso can however count on the support of the military who warned the demonstrators on Tuesday, accusing them of representing a « grave danger » for democracy.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Ecuador: the conservative Guillermo Lasso elected president after the defeat of the corréiste left

The World with AFP

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