May 27, 2020

An Ecuador halfway after eight days of protests against IMF adjustments

Ecuador today celebrated its eighth day of protests with a negative balance in the dead, wounded, detained and productive activities at medium gas, in a rare environment that still has no solution and that emerged after the application of a linked economic adjustment plan to a credit agreement with the IMF.

The Ombudsman confirmed on Thursday the death of a protester in Wednesday's protests, which would amount to five the number of deaths related to the protests, because over the weekend a man was hit when he allegedly fled a demonstration in the South of the country, while three others apparently "fell" from a bridge in Quito.

The authorities already speak of more than 900 detainees and in the last hours a brutal aggression has been reported against the journalist Freddy Paredes, of the Teleamazonas television channel.

The demonstrations broke out on Thursday of last week when the elimination of the subsidy or state aid to reduce the price of fuels, which were in force for four decades, came into effect.

On October 1, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno announced the release of the price of gasoline as a result of the elimination of the subsidy and announced other labor and tax reforms that he would present to Parliament, under the credit agreement with the IMF.

The adjustment package responded to the liquidity needs of Ecuador, which obtained a credit line of more than 10,000 million dollars from international organizations last March

The agreement with the IMF, which contributed 4,200 million, was accompanied by a series of demands to reduce public spending and increase the income of the State, which aroused the outrage of groups of workers, indigenous people and other social sectors.

The next day, trade union and indigenous organizations announced the start of "gradual and permanent mobilizations" against what they called the "neoliberal package" of the Government of Moreno.

The IMF also did not take long to react and assured that the decision of the Government of Ecuador sought to "promote solid and inclusive growth."

On Thursday, October 3, the new price of diesel went into effect, which went from $ 1.03 to 2.27, while the extra gasoline, the one with the highest consumption, from $ 1.85 to $ 2.30.

But that same day, the country woke up with a general shutdown of transport, while social groups stoked the protest in the direction of Quito.

The mobilizations were widespread in many regions of the country and the State Prosecutor's Office already announced the first arrests in coastal provinces such as Guayas and Los Ríos.

To placate the protest, that same day President Moreno ordered the state of exception, a measure that added to the suspension of classes throughout the country "in order to protect (protect) citizen security and avoid chaos."

The Minister of Government (Interior), María Paula Romo, then informed of eleven arrests and it was felt that the situation could end when there was already talk of negotiations with the carriers and a possible agreement.

After two days of protest, some transport unions ended the stoppage of activities, but the protest was maintained by social organizations.

On Sunday, an atypical day to demonstrate, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), Jaime Vargas, said that the possibilities for dialogue with the Government were "closed."

On Monday, with Quito under siege, President Lenín Moreno decided to move the government headquarters to the coastal city of Guayaquil and blamed his predecessor, Rafael Correa (2007-2017) for an alleged attempt of "coup d'etat" against him .

Correa, who has lived in Belgium since 2017, said in a message on social networks that street protests do not respond to any "coup d'etat" but to the folly of the Government and called for early elections to solve the political problem in Ecuador.

Moreno insisted that the destabilization process allegedly came from Correa with the support of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, whom he called "dictator" and "satrap."

In Ecuador "the first popular insurrection against the IMF of this new stage is taking place," Maduro told Moreno from Caracas.

At the same time, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru issued a joint statement Tuesday with "firm support" for President Moreno, support that also came from other governments and international organizations.

The indigenous protesters arrived on Tuesday to occupy for a few moments the headquarters of the National Assembly (Parliament) shouting "Outside Moreno, outside."

In Guayaquil and other cities, groups of people, identified with wealthy sectors, made peace rallies and called for an end to the demonstrations.

Moreno, from Guayaquil, issued a decree that restricted the freedom of movement and movement of people between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., Monday through Sunday, "in areas adjacent to buildings and strategic facilities such as buildings where the offices of the functions of the State function ".

On Wednesday, President Moreno, who had made a fleeting return to Quito, welcomed the start of the dialogue with the indigenous and other social sectors, but immediately the union leader Messiah Tatamuez emphatically denied it.

The capture of eight police officers and two alleged agents infiltrated by the indigenous movement and the burial of a member of the collective in the House of Ecuadorian Culture, in Quito, where the bulk of social mobilization has congregated, and images of aggression to Paredes, they defined the eighth day of protests, whose trigger was the adjustments agreed with the IMF.

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