The protests of indigenous groups in Ecuador against the government for the rise in the cost of living and especially the price of fuel, which have now been going on for nine days, are spreading and threatening a new political crisis.
The roadblocks and the arrival of thousands of protesters in the capital, Quito, put the country’s democracy at “serious risk,” Defense Minister Luis Lara warned on Tuesday, who also spoke on behalf of the Armed Forces.
“Ecuador’s democracy is at serious risk in the face of the concerted action of excited people who prevent the free movement of the majority of Ecuadorians,” said the official in statements in which he appeared flanked by the heads of the Army, Navy and Security Forces. Aerial.
Lara said from the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense, in Quito, that “the Armed Forces will not allow attempts to break the constitutional order or any action against democracy and the laws of the republic.”
On Monday, thousands of indigenous people arrived in the Ecuadorian capital as part of their indefinite protests that began nine days ago against the government of the conservative president, Guillermo Lasso, whom demand a reduction in fuel prices.
Roadblocks and tension in Ecuador, in a protest that has been going on for nine days. Photo: AFP
After the march entered the capital, Lasso extended the state of emergency that had been in force since Saturday in the provinces of Pichincha (whose capital is Quito), Cotopaxi and Imbabura, to the Andean Chimborazo and Tungurahua, and the Amazonian Pastaza.
“With this decision, the well-being of citizens is protected against violence. At the same time, the rights of those who demonstrate peacefully are protected,” said the Government House through its Communications Secretariat on Monday night.
Summoned by the opposition Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), which participated in revolts that overthrew three presidents between 1997 and 2005native groups have been closing roads in most of the 24 provinces and clashing with the security forces during demonstrations in various cities.
In 2019, a huge indigenous protest that ended with a dozen deaths also put the government of then President Lenín Moreno in check and forced him to back down with a controversial increase in fuel prices.
The Defense Minister also denounced that behind the protest there are “criminal” groups that only seek to destabilize the Lasso government.
“The only objective” of the actions of violent groups “is to create panic, attacking and extorting companies, institutions and authorities,” said Lara.
The Armed Forces “view with great concern the manipulation of social protest, the growth of violence by those who have rejected dialogue, a fundamental principle of coexistence in freedom and democracy to try to impose their demands on the State.”
The official added that there is an even more serious fact: “These actions coincide with the brutal criminal attack that the country has been suffering from drug traffickers and organized crime.”
The demonstrators arrived in Quito on Monday and extend their demonstrations against the government of Guillermo Lasso. Photo: AFP
“These actions go beyond citizen protest, it is a deliberate attempt to use armed violence to attack democracy, threaten institutions,” he said.
And he warned that the Armed Forces “will not allow attempts to break the constitutional order or any action against democracy and the laws of the republic.”
“The actions of social protest are legitimate, as long as they do not violate the guarantees and rights of the majority of citizens to live in peace, work, move around the territory, produce and educate their children in a free country without violence. “said the minister.
Lara pointed out that when these rights are violated, the groups that prevent free movement “create anxiety, attack other defenseless citizens, that is when the State, on behalf of all Ecuadorians, must take action to restore normalcy and restore peace.” .
The defense minister’s statements come a day after Lasso himself assured that he will not allow chaos to prevail in the country during the demonstrations against the government that, in his opinion, “seek to throw out (remove) the president.”
“I am here to protect citizens. I will always fight to defend democracy and the will of the Ecuadorian people. I will not allow chaos to prevail,” Lasso wrote on Twitter.
“They seek chaos, they want to throw out the president. I am here, I am not going to escape, but I am here to protect each of their families, especially the poorest,” Lasso said in a video with his voice that accompanied the message on Twitter.
This Tuesday, the protests grew with the closure of several highways in the country, while in the Ecuadorian capital the blockades on the roads increased.
The Carondelet Palace, headquarters of the Executive, is still protected and this Tuesday woke up with barbed wire placed on the balconies of its main entrance.
On the other hand, thousands of indigenous people gather in different sectors of the city to continue their protest demanding lower fuel prices, price controls, prevent privatization and avoid labor flexibility, among others.
Source: AFP and EFE