Ecuador president declares 'curfew' and 'militarisation' in Quito

World Sunday 13/October/2019 10:46 AM
By: Times News Service
Ecuador president declares 'curfew' and 'militarisation' in Quito

Quito: The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, declared a curfew and “militarisation" in the country's capital Quito on Saturday to help security forces quell ongoing protests sparked by austerity measures.

The order went into effect at 3.00 pm (local time) and would "facilitate the work of public forces against intolerable outbreaks of violence," Moreno said on Twitter.

"We're going to restore order in all of Ecuador," Moreno said. "We're starting with the curfew in Quito.”

He also announced some potential amendments to a controversial economic package but did not go back on the decision to remove fuel subsidies that has led people to take to streets across the nation in protest. Moreno said only that he would assess the effects of the cut in subsidies.

Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian Interior Minister, Maria Paula Romo, asked citizens to "go to their homes," before adding: "this measure will be valid until further notice.”

The new security measures came as access roads to Quito's airport were blockaded and TV channel Teleamazonas showed images of its own facilities in flames, as well as stones being thrown at office windows, though there were no reports of any employees being hurt.

By the evening on Saturday, the military had retaken control of streets leading to the National Assembly and the national comptroller's office. Protesters had earlier broken into the building and lit fires there.

Over a week of violent clashes

The announcement of the curfew came within 30 minutes of its implementation, meaning protesters, many of whom had traveled to the city from other provinces, did not return home.

As a result, violence continued in Quito even after indigenous leaders, who had instigated the protests over fuel price increases, changed tack and confirmed they had accepted a proposal for talks with President Moreno in order to find a solution.

The UN has said via Twitter that the first round of talks will take place on Sunday afternoon.

Deadly protests

Ecuador's indigenous people's federation, CONAIE, welcomed a government initiative to settle the impasse, but reiterated that it wants Moreno to first restore the fuel subsidies he had previously taken away as part of austerity.

In a statement, CONAIE leader Jaime Vargas said Moreno's call for discussions was a "positive" step but the federation stopped short of calling off the protests altogether.

"There's no real dialogue without guarantees for the safety of indigenous leaders," CONAIE said.

"We'll carry out approaches to try to repeal the decree," the statement added, "but we will hold protest actions nationally..exhorting the government to provide necessary guarantees.”

More than a week of protests in the Ecuadorian capital have already resulted in five deaths and nearly 2,000 wounded or detained.