The week that was in Ecuador — fuel hikes, protests, and out of oil
Clashes near the government headquarters in the capital, and protesters seize three oilfields in the Amazon region
Paris — Protests and clashes erupted in Ecuador a week ago, after the government doubled fuel prices, and thousands of people are gathering for a major demonstration in the capital Wednesday. Here is a recap of the week of unrest.
On October 1, President Lenín Moreno announces the end of government subsidies that were keeping down fuel prices, heralding price hikes of up to 123%. The measure is among reforms agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that will allow indebted Ecuador to borrow $4.2bn.
The same day, Ecuador announces it will withdraw from oil cartel Opec in January as part of plans to “generate new income”. The government had already complained that Opec would not allow it to raise its production quota.
State of emergency
Protests start on October 2 with about 300 people massing at the central bank in the capital. Some demand Moreno’s resignation.
There are clashes at mass protests on October 3, when the price hikes came into force. Police fire tear gas at crowds who hurl stones and fire bombs close to government offices in central Quito.
About 30 people are wounded and dozens arrested for “vandalism”. School classes are suspended and buses and taxis strike in Quito and other cities. Moreno declares a state of emergency “to avoid chaos”.
The strike extends into October 4 and there are more clashes, injuries and arrests.
Indigenous people mobilise
On October 5, indigenous people and farmers block major roads around the country. On October 6 the government announces that a man died after being run over at a protest in the south. Roads are blocked in about half of the country’s 24 provinces.
Indigenous protesters, some armed with sticks and whips, begin heading to the capital aboard pick-up trucks and on foot for a demonstration called for October 9.
On October 7, hundreds of indigenous people and farmers gather near parliament. There are clashes near the government headquarters in the capital as well as in the town of Machachi, on the outskirts of Quito.
The energy ministry announces that protesters have seized three oilfields in the Amazon region. Production had been suspended, causing a major drop in national production.
Addressing the nation, Moreno accuses his predecessor Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro of attempting to mount a coup using the indigenous population. He moves his government headquarters to the coastal city of Guayaquil.
Thousands of indigenous people reach Quito on October 8, some camping in parks or occupied buildings.
Protesters later break into the Congress building, many of them indigenous men armed with sticks and whips, but are evicted by security forces. Moreno orders an overnight curfew to protect public buildings.
Correa, in exile in Belgium, denies any coup attempt but calls for early elections. Seven Latin American countries express backing for Moreno. The UN and the Catholic Church offer to mediate.