In Ecuador, tens of thousands of demonstrators are set to march in the capital Quito today, as protests against government-imposed austerity measures enter their sixth day. The protests erupted after President Lenín Moreno ended a decades-old fuel subsidy program, spiking the cost of energy by up to 120%. The austerity met a key demand of the International Monetary Fund as part of a $4.2 billion deal agreed to in February. As more than 20,000 indigenous people streamed toward the capital Quito on Monday, President Moreno said in a national address he was temporarily moving government operations to the southern city of Guayaquil. He accused his political opponents of attempting a coup and vowed not to restore the fuel subsidy. Labor and indigenous groups who have teamed up for protests say they’re expanding their demands. This is Nelson Erazo, the leader of the Popular Front of workers and students.
Nelson Erazo: “Our message to the federal government is: This struggle isn’t only against the economic measures. It’s in defense of water, in defense of territories. It’s against the expansion of the oil industry in our country. It’s in defense of the natural environment. It’s in defense of the rights of workers, who are thirsty for justice and who are overshadowed by the national government and the Ministry of Labor.”
President Moreno has declared a state of emergency, allowing police to raid homes without warrants, while suspending the right to assembly. Nearly 500 people have been arrested.