Ecuador president cuts gasoline price amid Indigenous strike
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced a cut in gasoline prices Sunday that fell short of the reduction demanded by Indigenous leaders to end a strike that has paralyzed parts of the country for two weeks.
The reduction cuts the price of gasoline by 10 cents per gallon, and early Monday the main Indigenous organization rejected it, calling the measure “insufficient.”
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador has demanded compliance with a 10-point agenda, including the reduction of the price of extra gasoline from 2.55 to 2.10 dollars a gallon and diesel from 1.90 to 1.50.
Speaking on national television late Sunday, Lasso said the price of fuel “has become the cornerstone that maintains the conflict.”
“Ecuadorians who seek dialogue will find a government with an outstretched hand, those who seek chaos, violence and terrorism will face the full force of the law,” he said, emphasizing that the country must return to normality.
The Indigenous confederation criticized the announcement, and said in a press release that it shows that the government is not sympathetic to the millions of people in poverty in Ecuador.
The move comes shortly after Lasso lifted a state of emergency he’d imposed in six provinces and government officials held initial talks with protest leaders. It also comes as lawmakers discuss an opposition request to remove Lasso from office amid the strike, which has caused food shortages and hurt the economy.
Indigenous protesters are demanding a cut in gasoline prices, price controls on agricultural products and a larger budget be set for education. Lasso had accused the leader of the at-times violent strike of seeking to stage a coup.
On Thursday, the Indigenous confederation said a demonstrator died of pellet wounds in the chest and abdomen while protesting near the National Assembly in Quito, where about 100 other people suffered a variety of injuries. Police tweeted that officers were also injured by pellets.
In Quito, protesters blocking roads have brought the city to a near halt and people are experiencing food and fuel shortages. Groups of protesters have roamed the city attacking vehicles and civilians and forcing the closure of businesses, some of which were looted.
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