This Monday (20), the national strike in Ecuador completes a week with roadblocks in five regions and an indigenous march towards Quito. The general strike was called by the National Indigenous Confederation (Conaie) which lists ten demands to suspend the mobilization.
At least five provinces remain with blocked roads: Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Chimborazo, Bolívar and Pastaza. These regions are also home to 30% of Ecuador’s 1.1 million indigenous people.
Among Conaie’s demands is the reduction of fuel prices and the prohibition of mining activities in indigenous territories.
They also ask for more budget for health and education, and the creation of public policies to contain the wave of violence and organized crime that is ravaging the country. According to the president of the Confederation, the agenda was presented more than a year ago, but President Guillermo Lasso refuses to talk. “The structural problems will not be solved, but it will give us more tranquility to live”, said the leader of the Confederation, Leonidas Iza Salazar.
Last Friday (16), Lasso declared a state of emergency in three provinces: Cotopaxi, Pichincha and Imbabura. “I called for dialogue and the response was more violence. There is no intention to seek solutions”, declared the president.
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In response, the president of Conaie, who was detained for 24 hours on the second day of the strike, said that the state must not consolidate hatred and racism in Ecuadorian society.
“The president must respond and support the Ecuadorian people to overcome the crisis unleashed by this economic model. We are concerned about what happened at the Casa de Cultura, where state violence took place. The authorities’ role must be to guarantee a form of intercultural life”, he declared.
President @LassoGuillermo It has in its hands to be able to respond to substantial issues, such as support for the people in order to alleviate the crisis unleashed by this model. Structural problems will not be resolved, but it will provide peace of mind to survive. #Ecuador pic.twitter.com/LIZ2uWDhMS
— CONAIE (@CONAIE_Ecuador) June 20, 2022
The Casa da Cutura Ecuadoriana (CCE), a meeting point for indigenous mobilizations and one of the largest museums in Ecuador, was searched and occupied by the military.
“With great shame I must say that today culture has died. Tyranny and terror won over joy. The last time the Casa de Cultura was taken over by the police was 46 years ago during a dictatorship”, declared the president of the museum, Fernando Cerón.
On Sunday (19), Lasso announced a series of measures to try to control the protests. He committed himself not to raise the price of fuel and not to privatize public and strategic sectors of the country. Approved the increase in the Human Development Bonus from US$50 to US$55, which will be distributed to 1 million vulnerable families; grant a 50% subsidy on the price of fertilizers to small and medium-sized farmers; credit of up to US$ 5 thousand (R$ 25 thousand) with interest of 1% in a period of 30 years; as well as the forgiveness of debts of up to US$ 3 thousand (R$ 15.5 thousand) referring to credits granted by BanEcuador.
This Monday, indigenous movements prepare a march towards the capital Quito. According to a survey by human rights organizations, there were 79 prisoners, 55 injured and 39 complaints of human rights violations during a week of strike.
In less than two years in office this is the second general strike organized against Lasso.
About 27.7% of the Ecuadorian population lives in poverty, 10.5% in extreme poverty, while 66% are in informal employment, according to December 2021 data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (Inec).
Editing: Arturo Hartmann