The dialogue between the government of Ecuador and the indigenous movement, which for 18 days has been leading anti-government protests over the cost of living, was reinstated this Thursday with the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference as mediator between both parties.
The dialogue, which had begun on Monday, broke down on Tuesday when the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, refused to allow the Executive to negotiate again with the current indigenous leaders, after a soldier died in a confrontation between protesters and security forces. in the Amazonian province of Sucumbíos.
However, on Wednesday night, the government backed down on its decision by accepting that the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference intercede between both parties and the president of the National Assembly (Parliament), Virgilio Saquicela, would no longer lead the mediation.
Thus, the conversations were resumed with government delegates and the leaders of the indigenous and peasant organizations that lead the mobilizations.
The government minister, Francisco Jiménez, who was already at Monday’s meeting, attended on behalf of the Executive.
At the forefront, the indigenous movement was led by the main promoter of the protests, Leonidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, despite the fact that Lasso had categorically refused on Tuesday that the government sit down again in the same table with him by calling him an “opportunist”.
Iza was accompanied by the presidents of the National Confederation of Peasant, Indigenous and Black Organizations (Fenocin), Gary Espinoza; and from the Council of Evangelical Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Ecuador (Feine), Eustaquio Toala.
During the first meeting held on Monday, there was some progress and the government partially granted some of the demands of the indigenous movement, since for most points it was agreed to form separate working groups and the negotiation was reduced to the price of fuel and oil and mining activities.
The Executive promised to repeal a decree that promoted oil activity in the Amazon and to no longer grant mining concessions in protected natural areas and protected intangible zones, although the indigenous movement demands that this also be extended to water recharge zones and indigenous territories.
Fuels, the most sensitive
However, the most sensitive point is the reduction in the prices of subsidized fuels, since the reduction of ten cents per gallon (3.78 liters) announced by Lasso on Sunday night seems insufficient to indigenous and peasant organizations. .
Since the beginning of the protests, they have demanded that 85-octane gasoline cost US$2.10 per gallon and diesel US$1.50, prices similar to those of a year ago, when the Lasso government took power and made a progressive increase until they were fixed. at US$2.55 and US$1.90, respectively.
Parallel to the meeting, a large march of indigenous people toured the streets of Quito for one more day to demand that the ten points of the Conaie’s list of demands be fulfilled, which also include price controls on basic necessities and the remission of overdue debts of up to US$10,000.
“We are not terrorists, we are resistance” and “Lasso, listen, we want results”, shouted the participants in this demonstration that was led by women and that went to the exterior of the headquarters of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, where the meeting was being held. .
The protests began on Monday, June 13, and so far have left six dead, including a soldier, and around 500 injured among protesters and members of the security forces.