Sunday, December 10

Government of Ecuador and indigenous people reach an agreement to end 18 days of protests

The Government of Ecuador and the indigenous movement reached an agreement this Thursday to cease anti-government protests over the cost of living, which have been going on in the country for 18 days and have left six dead, including a military man, and some 500 injured between demonstrators and security forces.

The indigenous and peasant organizations that led the protests have agreed to lift the mobilizations after the Government promised to repeal the state of exception, lower the price of subsidized fuel by 15 cents and not give more mining concessions in natural reserves, intangible areas , water recharge areas and indigenous territories.

The agreements have been announced at a ceremony at the headquarters of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, which has acted as a mediator between both parties to resume a dialogue that had begun on Monday, but that the Government broke off on Tuesday after the death of a soldier in a confrontation between demonstrators and security forces.

As of this commitment, 85-octane gasoline will cost $2.40 per gallon (3.78 liters) and diesel $1.75, despite the fact that the indigenous movement demanded that it be reduced to 2, $10 and $1.50, respectively, similar prices to a year ago.

The final agreement supposes an additional reduction of 5 cents of dollar per gallon to the reduction of 10 cents already announced by Guillermo Lasso on Sunday night.

Before this commitment, the Government had already partially granted other demands of the indigenous movement, such as the repeal of Decree 95, which promoted oil activity in the Amazon. It had also approved forgiving peasant families overdue debts of up to 3,000 dollars, reducing interest on current loans, subsidizing the cost of urea by up to 50%, increasing a bond for vulnerable families from 50 to 55 dollars, doubling the budget of intercultural education and declare the health system in an emergency.

The rest of the ten points of the list of demands of the indigenous movement will be dealt with in working groups such as the forgiveness of debts of up to 10,000 dollars, the control of prices of basic necessities and the non-privatization of state companies.

In exchange for the cessation of the protests, the Government has promised to repeal the new state of emergency decreed on Wednesday in four provinces of the country where several episodes of violence and shortages of essential products such as fuel and medical oxygen were concentrated.

The Government Minister, Francisco Jiménez, who has been the interlocutor of the administration of President Guillermo Lasso before the conveners of the protests, participated in the signing of the minutes of this agreement.

On the other side was the main leader of the protests, Leonidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), with whom Lasso had said on Tuesday that the Ecuadorian government would not dialogue again, considering him an “opportunist” who did not represented the interests of indigenous peoples.

Also present were the presidents of the National Confederation of Peasant, Indigenous and Black Organizations (Fenocin), Gary Espinoza; and from the Council of Evangelical Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Ecuador (Feine), Eustaquio Toala.