Ecuador: nationwide protests and blockades despite state of emergency





CONAIE members, including President Iza (in the center) / Photo: Servindi / CONAIE

(Quito, June 18, 2022, la diaria) – Since June 13, the indigenous umbrella organization CONAIE has been running nationwide protests and roadblocks in Ecuador. Protests will continue throughout the country until their demands are met by the government, president of the organization Leonidas Iza said: “Until we receive this answer, we will continue mobilizing throughout the country until the government recovers from indifference.” awakening, ”he said at a press conference in Cotopaxi Province. The indigenous movement is calling for price cuts especially for fuel and food, but also for an end to extractive economies in indigenous territories.

Iza also called on various sections of the population to join the mobilization: health and education workers, students, farm laborers, an Evangelical Native organization, and a nationwide Federation of Farmers, Indigenous and Black Organizations, to name a few. Many students have already joined the protests and demonstrated in Quito on June 15, with the support of other strata of society, against the presidential residence, Carondelet Palace.

President CONAIE arrested

The arrest of CONAIE President Leonidas Iza caused a stir in the first days of the protests. For example, an association of university students joined the demonstration, which called for a nationwide mobilization against the imprisonment of Iza. The tribal leader was detained for 24 hours and charged with disrupting public services by blocking roads. He was eventually released after Judge Paola Bedón ordered his parole instead of pre-trial detention. Nevertheless, she felt that his arrest was lawful.

However, CONAIE activists reported that Iza was held in solitary confinement and his whereabouts were unknown for several hours. Iza himself describes his detention as a “political kidnapping” and an act of repression by the government to “undermine the national mobilization and morale of the leaders.” However, for movements already mobilized to protest, the arrest was a reason to intensify the actions already planned and intensify the protest.

The peaceful protest is interrupted by tear gas

When the news of Iza’s release spread, the students’ demonstration became more solemn. There were dances and music, people shouted, “Get out, lasso, get out!” – a message to the current president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso. For example, a demonstration by thousands of students in Quito was generally peaceful, but was interrupted by police with tear gas.

Iza questioned the government and indicated that there was a right to protest. The United Nations (UN) office in the country also called on the Ecuadorian government on June 15 to respect the right to protest and due process against those arrested in connection with the demonstrations. In a statement read out by the organization’s spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric in New York, the United Nations called for “peace-building, easing tensions and seeking ways of dialogue.”

UN appeal to protect freedom of speech and human rights

The organization called for “full respect for the constitutional and legal guarantees of the exercise of public protests and the due process principles that apply to all those arrested in demonstrations, in line with international human rights standards” and urged movements “to exercise their right to peaceful protest under the rule of law. and the necessary social coexistence and peace ”.

On June 16, in addition to the indigenous CONAIE and the student movement, other community organizations and a national union of educators joined the protest. In turn, peasant movements organized protests in their own communities.

Outstanding Receivables

The current demonstrations are the result of a failed dialogue between CONAIE and the government. At the end of her first year in office, Lasso CONAIE felt that all dialogue options were exhausted.

The demands that drive the movements are numerous. The most important of these are calls to lower and freeze fuel prices and to keep the prices of staple food under control. On the other hand, they question the low prices paid to agricultural producers in the production and trade chain, incl. B. banana and milk growers.

CONAIE is also demanding a halt to oil production and extraction in certain regions of the country and protests against privatization projects. In addition, indigenous communities demand that their specific rights be respected. This includes the right to be consulted on decisions which directly affect them as indigenous peoples, to respect for linguistic diversity.

State of emergency declared in three provinces

Meanwhile, in Ecuador, several roads in various provinces have been closed since June 13, and central Quito has been surrounded by heavy security. So far, the Lassa government has insisted that it stands ready for dialogue as long as public services are not disrupted, as is the case with roadblocks. “We cannot be victims of vandals who only want to cause chaos,” said Lasso. Meanwhile, his government introduced a 30-day state of emergency in the three provinces of Pichincha, Imbabura and Cotopaxi, allowing troops to be deployed and police powers to be expanded.

The capital of Quito is also located in a state of emergency. On June 16, the protest temporarily closed the capital’s wholesale market, one of the country’s main food markets, and the San Roque Market in downtown Quito.

According to official reports, several dozen people have already been injured in the demonstrations and more than 30 have been arrested. “They will continue to put pressure on judges and prosecutors. We will come to the last consequence, including the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, to defend our rights, said CONAIE President Leonidas Iza.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Nationwide protests and blockades despite the state of emergency by Newspool Latin America is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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