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Date: July 6, 2022 4:09 am

In memory of recent social mobilization, Ecuador is the country where the flames of protest against then-President Lenin Moreno ignited in 2019, engulfing all of Latin America. Today, Ecuador is once again experiencing scenes of maximum tension with street violence and direct clashes between police and protesters. Indigenous marches that have rocked the country for more than a week have led President Guillermo Lasso to declare a state of emergency first in three provinces and from Monday in six more to contain roadblocks. The effect was the opposite of what he hoped for when trying to negotiate with indigenous peoples heading to Quito or already arriving in the capital.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Konaye) is protesting the economic deficit and is pressuring the Lasso government to take action to reduce high food and fuel prices that have impoverished Ecuador’s already poorest. The executive branch’s response was, at first, contradictory. On the one hand, vague measures were proposed to bring positions closer while tightening repression through the introduction of a state of emergency and a curfew. This Monday, he laid out his proposals more precisely in a public letter that includes help to fight prices, unemployment and debt.

As is often the case, especially in Ecuador, the protesters are right in many ways, but irritation cannot lead to unleashing violence and practically paralyzing the country for more than a week. Lasso is not only facing demonstrations due to social unrest. Behind this is an atmosphere of agitation, promoted by the political hand of the indigenous peoples, but above all by supporters in the shadow of Rafael Correa. This is the hardest part for a government that doesn’t want its political rivals to get a seat, but at the same time it has to meet the social needs of not only the indigenous peoples, but the entire population.

The protests culminate in months of tacky Lasso management. No far-reaching reform has been devised, despite increasing social subsidies or subsidizing the most common fertilizers in the country. There is growing uncertainty and anger among the population about rising oil prices in the producing country. “Democracy or chaos” is Lasso’s motto, but the protests are well founded. The scenario that Ecuador is going through today is a stark wake-up call for all governments in the region in the face of rising living costs and widening deep inequalities. Negotiations, demanded by both the UN and the EU, are the only way to not aggravate the conflict and end the violence that has already resulted in one death and dozens of injuries.


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