Ecuador Pres. Guillermo Lasso Calls for Dialogue With Indigenous, Civil Society Groups on Day 2 of Protests Over Fuel Price Hike
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso has called for a dialogue with indigenous and civil society groups on the second day of demonstrations against the fuel price hike.
Demonstrations erupted in several provinces days after the government scrapped plans to enforce an incremental increase in fuel prices. And instead, it raised the price of diesel to $1.90 a gallon and $2.55 a gallon for petrol.
The president of Ecuador announced the 12 percent increase in the country's fuel prices last Friday. Al Jazeera reported that this set off the largest protests since he took office.
Thousands of demonstrators marched on Tuesday to call for a reduction in fuel prices and answers to alleged tax fraud by Lasso based on the Pandora Papers.
Various road blockades continued on Wednesday, including a barricade of soil, tree trunks, and burning tires on one of capital Quito's access roads.
According to Ecuador's public safety department, there were also roadblocks in the provinces of Imbabura, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, and Tungurahua on Wednesday.
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso on the Protesters
Guillermo Lasso sounded his willingness to talk with the indigenous and rural protesters on Wednesday.
"I call once more for dialogue, for consensus, for thinking of the good of the country and not of personal, party or union interests," Lasso said during a military ceremony.
The Ecuadorian president stressed that people in Ecuador should be united "in these moments of economic recovery." Lasso also said that the government would keep security forces on highways to maintain order.
"If tomorrow the challenges remain we'll maintain the control by police in the cities, plazas and countryside of Ecuador," Lasso noted.
The president has criticized the ongoing protests in their country, saying the demonstrations represent economic losses for small businesses, "which are the livelihood of thousands of Ecuadorian families and households."
"Say no to unemployment, for the reactivation and prosperity of the entire country," the Ecuadorian president added.
Protester Dennis Viteri, a 28-year-old textile worker, told AFP that the government has "messed up" for pushing fuel prices up "all the time."
The Ecuadorian president earlier said this would be the last increase, but it could not calm the simmering anger of the protesters. Ecuador typically exports oil but imports much of the fuel it consumes.
Ecuador Protests: 37 Detained by Police
Officials said at least eight police officers were injured during protests on Tuesday, and 37 people were arrested for blocking roads.
According to Interior Minister Alexandra Vela, the majority of demonstrations were peaceful on Tuesday. However, he said a group of protesters was believed to have been aggressive against the police, which resulted in agents throwing tear gas in Santo Domingo Plaza to disperse the crowds.
Protest organizers said some protesters were also hurt but did not give a figure.
Last week, Guillermo Lasso declared a 60-day nationwide state of emergency in response to a wave of violent crime and drug trafficking in the country. It allows for the quick deployment of the police and armed forces to conduct routine checkpoints in hotspots.
The Ecuadorian president is currently facing a parliamentary investigation over Pandora Papers' revelations that he reportedly hid millions in assets overseas. Lasso has since denied wrongdoing after being named in last month's report.
This article is owned by Latin Post.
Written by: Joshua Summers
WATCH: Demonstrators Clash With Police in Ecuador During Protest Over Fuel Price Hike - From South China Morning Post
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