Indigenous groups and delegates of Ecuador’s government reached an agreement to cancel the austerity package imposed on Sunday. The agreement ended 11 days of violent protests, which damaged greatly the country´s economy, and left more than 1,000 people injured and seven deaths. Thousands of students and Indigenous protesters cleaned up the streets where they demonstrated on Monday and celebrated the positive outcome of the protests. The talks between both sides were negotiated by the United Nations and the Catholic Church. However, they have not revealed any details yet.
The popular discontent began when president Lenin Moreno agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on public spending cuts, such as ending the subsidized fuel to pay for the loan given. The IMF will allow Ecuador to borrow $4.2 billion. Therefore as a consequence, gas prices raised since last week from $1.85 a gallon to $2.30 and diesel from $1.08 to $2.27, summing approximately 120% on the rise of prices, according to BBC News.
Other measures pronounced by Moreno besides the end of subsidized fuel, were a primary motivation for protests in the country. For example, a 20% decrease in salaries of temporary public jobs, reduction of the vacation period from 30 days to 15 days for employees, the contribution of one-day monthly salary from public employees, among others, as stated by BBC News. This affected strongly the poor communities of Ecuador and as said by the analyst Santiago Basabe in Quito, “Moreno severely miscalculated by reducing fuel subsidies without plans in place to cushion the blow for poor Ecuadorians,” in the Washington Post.
Because of the rise in the prices of oil, the prices of transport services have increased, as well as products that require the use of freight and use of the principal roads in the country, which have been closed to control the demonstrations.
What started as peaceful demonstrations led by Indigenous leaders and students, opposing the new economic package and asking for the withdrawal of the Decree 833, which raised fuel prices, led to violent protests. People have set up barricades on the streets and clashed with security forces, who tried to disperse the crowds with tear gas.
The UN called the government to investigate the deaths and held a talk after 10 police officers were taken hostages in Quito, the capital, by the indigenous movement. They were paraded and forced to carry the coffin of an indigenous leader allegedly killed during the protests. They were freed on Thursday, and President Moreno decided to move the government out of the capital meanwhile.
Moreno in response announced on Saturday that a curfew would be imposed in Quito, led by the military, to “re-establish the order in all of Ecuador”, restricting the movement for 24 hours. The President declared an exception status in the country, allowing the display of armed forces across the country, and if its necessary news censorship to settle the protests.
The economic plan proposed two weeks ago, was crucial for the economic development of the country, said Moreno. On the other hand, he accuses the opposition of promoting the destabilization of the country. Ex-president Rafael Correa, before allied of Moreno, who now lives exiled in Belgium accused of corruption by the president, has used Twitter, to denounce the president and ask him to resign from the presidency.
Indigenous people have always been key figures in the political movement in Ecuador. Indeed, “their protests were key to the downfall of several governments, including those of Presidents Abdalá Bucaram in 1997, Jamil Mahuad in 2000 and Lucio Gutiérrez in 2005.” stated in the New York Times. Therefore, the president did not wait too long to reach an agreement, fearing his government status.
After the reunion between both the government and different groups of representing the indigenous, the president compromised to lift the Decree 833, and the representatives of the public dissatisfaction promised to stop the violent protests all around Ecuador.
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