Published: Fri, October 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Protests Shut Down Quito Forcing Government to Move to Captial

Protests Shut Down Quito Forcing Government to Move to Captial

It comes hours after President Moreno announced that he had temporarily moved government operations from the capital to the port city of Guayaquil.

After clashes broke out in the area Tuesday, the government of President Lenin Moreno posted security forces there to keep the march from reaching the plaza. Once inside they waved flags and chanted slogans before being forced back by security forces using tear gas. They rushed into the meeting room and occupied the podium, but were soon evicted by security forces.

The government declared an overnight curfew around key state installations and government buildings as well as vital infrastructure such as airports and oil refineries.

Anti-government protests have flared across the country in the last week, with violent clashes happening in the nation's capital, Quito, and across the country over the announcement of austerity measures that would more than double some diesel and gas prices.

"People couldn't take it anymore, that's the reality", he said, referring to the belt-tightening economic measures.

The government says two dozen policemen have been injured in clashes with protesters, while a man died when he was hit by a vehicle and an ambulance could not reach him through the barricades. Red Cross volunteers had been attacked in several locations in recent days and people threw stones at an ambulance in Quito on Monday, the aid group said. Discussions with leaders of the powerful indigenous umbrella organization CONAIE took place in Guayaquil, some 170 miles (270 kilometres) southwest of the capital.

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Moreno says the dialogue is hard because so many indigenous groups are involved.

Dialogue was necessary, the statement added, citing possible measures to compensate the impact of fuel price rises, such as credit lines for farmers and transport cooperatives. State-run Petroamazonas estimates it could lose about 188,000 barrels per day, or more than a third of its crude production, due to unrest at its facilities. Ecuador, which exited the OPEC global oil cartel last week citing economic constraints, normally produces 531,000 barrels per day.

Moreno, 66, who has abandoned his predecessor and one-time mentor Rafael Correa's leftist policies, says he will neither tolerate disorder nor overturn the fuel price hike that is part of a liberal economic reform package.

Maduro, who has presided over an economic implosion and political crisis in Venezuela, has yet to respond to the accusation of involvement in Ecuador. All seven-which include Argentina, Brazil and Columbia-have right-wing governments that see Moreno's moderate socialist administration as an important regional ally against Venezuela.

"Correa has a direct interest in forcing Moreno out, not just as political revenge for Moreno's "betrayal" but in an attempt to dodge multiple judicial investigations now underway against him and several former lieutenants". "Conflicts in democracy are resolved at the polls", the Belgium-based Correa said in a video published on social media. Moreno reiterated that he won't reinstate the fuel subsidies.

The demonstrators' main demand is the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy cut, which has sent transport and food prices soaring, though some were also urging Moreno to quit.

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