Peace Returns to Ecuador: Gov. & Indigenous Protesters Strike Agreement

By Juan Garff, dpa

Demonstrators in Quito, Ecuador celebrate the government’s decision to withdraw the controversial increase in fuel prices. This was agreed by the government of Lenin Moreno and the leadership of the indigenous peoples after lengthy negotiations. Photo: Juan Diego Montenegro / dpa / Europa Press 13-10-2019

HAVANA TIMES – The Ecuadorian government and indigenous leaders came to an agreement late Sunday following talks aimed at ending violent protests triggered by austerity measures.

The decision to drop fuel subsidies, which triggered a wave of unrest and forced President Lenin Moreno to temporarily move the government out of the capital Quito, is to be revised by a joint commission, according to the agreement between Moreno and the indigenous people’s federation, CONAIE.

In return, CONAIE has halted protests across the country, the group’s chief, Jaime Vargas, said.

The government had hoped to save more than a billion dollars annually with the elimination of the 40-year-old fuel subsidies. The move was part of a 4.2-billion-dollar deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which also includes tax and labour reforms.

The resulting jump in the price of fuel – by over 100 per cent – led to the protests by indigenous peoples and unions, which lasted for 10 days and often saw violent clashes with security forces.

“One day you needed 20 dollars for the tractor, the next it was 45 dollars. It was no longer enough to take the children to school,” said Leonidas Iza, one of the leaders of CONAIE, in broadcast footage of the dialogue with Moreno.

The joint commission is to hammer out a new decree, overseen by Ecuador’s UN representatives and the Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference, which aims to avoid a removal of subsidies that impacts poorer groups in society.

Around 25 per cent of Ecuadorians live in poverty.