In Ecuador, indigenous movement accepts dialogue, president orders curfew in Quito

Protesters erect a barricade near the National Assembly in Quito on October 12, 2019.
Protesters erect a barricade near the National Assembly in Quito, October 12, 2019. CRISTINA VEGA / AFP

The main indigenous organization in Ecuador agreed on Saturday (October 12th) to hold talks with President Lenin Moreno, who, for his part, declared a curfew in Quito "Intolerable" violence on the eleventh day of an unprecedented social crisis brought about by economic reforms in exchange for a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Faced with the worst crisis of his term, the Head of State, elected in 2017, announced on Twitter the entry into force from 15:00 (22 hours in Paris) of this measure in the capital and its surroundings, where he also ordered the establishment of a military control.

He had already transferred Monday the headquarters of the government in Guayaquil (south-west), while the state of emergency was decreed for sixty days and 74,000 soldiers and police were deployed.

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"After a process of consultation with communities, organizations, peoples, nationalities and social organizations, we decided to participate in the direct dialogue" with Lenin Moreno, said Saturday in a statement, before the establishment of the curfew in Quito, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie).

But at the same time, violent clashes continued in the capital, between protesters throwing stones and firing homemade rockets and police replicating with tear gas and rubber bullets.

In addition, hooded protesters set fire to the Office of the Inspector General of Finance in northern Quito, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). The building was attacked with Molotov cocktails and soon after, a group of men, most with masked faces or helmets, entered, ransacking it.

Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo announced on Twitter the evacuation of the area so that "The rescue teams can fight the fire and look after the staff inside". She added that 30 people had been arrested.

"Outside the IMF! "

On Friday, in a televised speech, the head of state called on indigenous leaders, spearheading the protest, to "Dialogue directly" in order to " find solutions " the crisis triggered by its announcement of reforms, in return for a loan of $ 4.2 billion. "It is essential to reduce violence"added Moreno, a liberal elected under the socialist label.

In the evening, Conaie first said no, considering that this offer of dialogue "failing (All) of credibility ". She added that she would only bargain once "Repealed" the decree abolishing subsidies on fuel, the most controversial measure. The organization now accepts a meeting with the President to discuss the "Withdrawal or (of) the revision of the decreeafter more than a week of demonstrations that left five dead and 2,000 wounded.

In parallel with Saturday clashes between protesters and police, a peaceful march of women was organized in the capital, cries of "We do not want more dead! " and "Outside the IMF! ". "Government, listen to women. We want there is not one more death! ", megaphone in hand, Cristina Yallico, a native at the head of the procession.

Washington support

The natives – 25% of the 17.3 million inhabitants – reject the elimination of subsidies on fuel, which affects them with full force: constituting 68% of the poor in the country, they work mainly in agriculture and see to lift the cost of transport for the sale of their products.

Road blocks continued to paralyze much of the country on Saturday, while public transport was virtually non-existent. In addition, there were also several strike movements and blockades of oil wells in the Amazon, which has already forced Ecuador to suspend the distribution of nearly 70% of its crude output.

Lenin Moreno accuses his predecessor Rafael Correa (2007-2017), a former ally turned political opponent, of having "Activated" a "Destabilization plan" with the help of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He received on Friday the support of Washington who, through his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, highlighted the " efforts " of the Ecuadorian Government "To institutionalize democratic practices and implement the necessary economic reforms".

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