Fuel prices, transit fares drop to pre-protest levels in Ecuador

World Wednesday 16/October/2019 12:14 PM
By: Times News Service
Fuel prices, transit fares drop to pre-protest levels in Ecuador

Quito: Fuel prices and transit fares in Ecuador dropped to their previous levels on Tuesday, following more than 10 days of violent anti-government protests against the elimination of fuel subsidies.

At gas stations in Quito, a gallon (3.785 litres) of gasoline was selling for $1.85, and a gallon of diesel was priced at $1.03 on Tuesday.

Bus fares in Pacific-coast Guayaquil, the country's main port, were back to 30 cents.

After an 1 October presidential decree liberalised fuel prices that had been in place for four decades, practically overnight, gasoline jumped to $2.39 a gallon, and diesel to $2.27.

The move sparked a popular backlash among indigenous groups, transport workers, students and other sectors, who took to the streets by the thousands, leading to clashes with security forces.

Clashes left at least 10 people dead, more than 2,000 injured, 100 missing and led to more than 1,000 arrests, according to indigenous representatives.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno agreed to repeal the decree on Sunday, after officials met for several hours with protest leaders.

The two sides agreed the government will work on a new subsidy scheme that helps vulnerable groups, with no subsidising prices for the wealthy.

"The government will substitute decree 883 with a new one that contains the mechanisms to focus resources on those who need them most," Moreno said via Twitter.

Eliminating fuel subsidies was part of an austerity package to reduce the public deficit in keeping with the terms of a $4.2 billion loan agreement the government signed with the International Monetary Fund.