Ecuador's Conservative President Guillermo Lasso Monday said the indigenist groups staging protests nationwide wanted to overthrow him from office, for which they need chaos to mount.
We have reached out, we have called for dialogue, but they do not want peace, they seek chaos, they want to throw the president out, Lasso said in a video on social media. I am here, I am not going to escape, but I am here to protect each one of your families, especially the poorest, Lasso added.
The opposition Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), which has already taken part in revolts successful at deposing three presidents between 1997 and 2005, has been staging protests and road blockades to request a reduction in fuel prices, among other demands. Conaie's October 2019 anti-government protests, which spanned almost two weeks, left 11 dead and more than 1,000 injured. Then-President Lenín Moreno denounced a coup attempt.
On the other hand, Conaie has denounced that five of their comrades fell down a ravine in the middle of the police repression and one of them died. The Government has extended the state of emergency from three to six provinces, it was also announced.
Democracy or chaos, that is the great battle, the battle for democracy, Lasso insisted Monday. I will not allow chaos to be imposed during the demonstrations, which left 63 officers injured and 21 others detained and released, according to the Police.
The Alianza de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos (Alliance of Human Rights Organizations) reported 79 detainees and 55 civilians injured.
In Ecuador, a gallon of diesel has risen 90% (to US$ 1.90) and that of regular gasoline by 46% (to US$ 2.55) in almost a year. Since last October prices have been frozen due to social pressure. Conaie is demanding a reduction to 1.50 and 2.10 dollars, respectively.
In order to agree to talk, the indigenous group demands Lasso agrees to a 10-point list, which includes a prohibition of mining concessions in their territories. Lasso says he has already acquiesced to Conaie's requests while reaffirming his openness to dialogue.
Lasso argued that last Saturday he had answered Conaie's requests with the declaration of emergency in the health system, doubling the budget in intercultural education, the increase of the human development bonus, debt forgiveness, credits for agriculture, and the urea subsidy, among other actions.
Read also: State of emergency declared in Ecuador
We are attending to the legitimate demands of the citizens, he assured. So he regretted that, despite these decisions, the response is more violence and new threats to attack Quito.
We cannot allow a few violent people to prevent millions of Ecuadorians from working. We will not allow people against people, he said, and added: I am here to defend Quito, every family in the capital and the country.
We all want dialogue, except for a few violent ones. I call for peace. We have to sit at a table and together seek solutions for each of the legitimate needs of Ecuadorians, Lasso highlighted.
As a result of the strike, about 80 stretches of roads nationwide dawned Monday with blockades due to protests called by the Conaie.