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Indigenous protesters in Ecuador stalled in dialogue with the government; oil production affected

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Efforts to end the protests in Ecuador were at a standstill on Thursday as the government of President Guillermo Lasso refused to end emergency measures as protesters are demanding, while state crude output continued to fall.

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Concerns over prices for fuel, food and other basic items have erupted into sometimes violent protests across the country since June 13, prompting Lasso to declare a state of emergency in six provinces, including the capital, Quito.

The massive demonstration, led by the indigenous organization Conaie, is testing Lasso’s ability to reactivate the economy and launch employment. The president has an adversarial relationship with the National Assembly, whose lawmakers have blocked his proposals, and has fought to contain the growing violence he attributes to drug gangs.

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The Government has repeatedly called the protesters to dialogue, but the indigenous leaders have imposed as a condition to stop the repression of the public force and repeal the state of emergency.

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The state of exception cannot be lifted”, the government minister, Francisco Jiménez, told a local radio.

Jiménez explained that the government is complying with some of the requests of the indigenous people, including the signing of decrees to subsidize fertilizers such as urea, cancel banking debts and increase the budget for health and education.

While our people are massacred in the streets, we cannot dialogue”, the Coanie wrote on Twitter, and called for a dialogue with effective results.

During the protests, demonstrators have entered flower farms and oil blocks, causing damage in some places and impacting crude oil production.

The state oil company Petroecuador has accumulated a loss of 350,000 barrels of crude oil since the protest began and has had to shut down more than 800 oil wells, the manager, Ítalo Cedeño, told local radio.

We have lost generation plants, secondary pipelines, collection stations and the Trans-Ecuadorian pipeline itself (SOTE) is without crude oil that it can pump”, Cedeno added. “Already half of our production is stopped, and half of our wells are closed.”

The leaders of the protests have denounced a strong police repression. A protester identified as Byron Guatatoca died after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister, according to an alliance for human rights.

Another protester died last week after falling into a ravine, and the Health Ministry said two people died in ambulances delayed by roadblocks.

Amid the demonstrations, the Ecuadorian presidency reported Wednesday night that Lasso tested positive for COVID-19.

Source: Gestion

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