Indigenous Ecuadorians reach agreement with government to end lockdowns

Indigenous Ecuadorians reach agreement with government to end lockdowns

Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza after signing an agreement with the government.

After more than two weeks of blockades and violence that left six dead, the government and the leaders of indigenous protests in Ecuador reached an agreement on Thursday to end the crippling protests the country.

Developed under the mediation of the Catholic Church, this agreement provides for a total reduction of 15 cents in the price of fuel, one of the main demands of the demonstrators, mainly peasants living in the Andean mountains and the Amazon part of the country.

We will suspend the protest movement, said Leonidas Iza, the head of the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), a fervent organization launch protests.

We have achieved the supreme value to which we all aspire: peace in our country. The strike is over, canning president Guillermo Lasso commented on Twitter. We now begin together the task of transforming this peace into progress, well-being and opportunity for all.

The President of Ecuador, the conservative Guillermo Lasso.

With a total reduction of 15 cents on fuel, the Aboriginals finally obtained an additional 5 cents on the 10 cents already conceded by the government on Sunday. They had been demanding a 40 cent cut since the start of their strike. Once in place, a gallon of diesel will cost $1.80, compared to $2.40 a gallon of gasoline.

The agreement provides for the establishment of a negotiations committee, the end of blockades and demonstrations throughout the country, and the lifting of the state of emergency in force in four regions of province.

It also provides, respectively, for the repeal and revision of two decrees, the first on the extension of oil exploitation in the Amazon, the second on mining.

The indigenous movement officially considers that the first stage of the ParoNacionalEcuador is over, tweeted la Conaie, stressing that the respect of the agreements and commitments signed will be assessed in 90 days.

The signing of the document was greeted with cries of joy at the headquarters of the Episcopal Conference in Quito, where the two delegations met on Thursday morning.

The Minister Finance of Ecuador Francisco Jimenez (right) and indigenous leader Leonidas Iza (left) in Quito.

The executive had suspended talks on Tuesday after an attack in the Amazon in which a soldier was killed. On Wednesday evening, he had finally announced his return the next day to the negotiating table, with the mediation of the Church.

Thursday, the government was represented in particular by the Minister for Government Affairs, Francisco Jimenez. Opposite, at least four indigenous delegates were present, including the inevitable Leonidas Iza, red poncho and black felt hat on his long braid of straight hair.

Outside, thousands of indigenous people had gathered since morning, having marched without incident through central Quito. After a brief moment of ebullience, the crowd headed for the Maison de la culture, a cultural center serving as their headquarters, where they celebrated the agreement, to the tune of Long live the fight! and deafening concert of vuvuzuela.

The reduction of 15 cents is not a minor thing, commented Mr. Iza there in front of the heterogeneous crowd, concentrated of the 13 nationalities recognized in Ecuador, waving a tide of Ecuadorian flags.

Subsidies should reach those who need them most. We must put in place a system that really benefits the poorest […] Long live the struggle! Long live the rebellion!, he launched.

The leader of the indigenous movement celebrates the signing of an agreement with the government.

Concert horns were also heard in the city, where many inhabitants, especially in the more affluent northern part, recently expressed their exasperation at the blockades and sometimes the violence of the protesters.

This violence left six dead and more than 600 injured in eighteen days of mobilization in Quito, but also throughout the country.

Far from the cameras, the Amazon, with its many oil installations, was the other epicenter of the movement which caused the production of black gold, the first export product, to fall by almost half. of the country.

The protest has thus weighed heavily on the economy and on the inhabitants, with a rise in prices and the beginning of food and agricultural shortages.

Past mobilizations by indigenous groups led to the downfall of three presidents between 1997 and 2005.

In October 2019, more than a week of dispute had left eleven dead and had been concluded by an agreement signed with the president of the time.

President Lasso, elected in May 2021, escaped impeachment on Tuesday, after parliament rejected a motion introduced by the opposition party of socialist ex-president Rafael Correa.

In the evening, indigenous groups were already beginning to pack their bags to return to their communities, following the watchword of their leader: we are tired […] , it's time to go home.

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