On Monday, indigenous organizations in Ecuador stopped certain roadways with dirt mounds and burning tires, launching what they claimed would be an endless protest against conservative President Guillermo Lasso’s economic policies.
Indigenous and social groups have asked Lasso for ten concessions, including freezing gasoline prices at a lower level, halting new oil and mining development, and extending deadlines for small farmers to pay off bank loans.
Roads were blocked in at least 16 provinces throughout the nation during the day, according to indigenous group CONAIE, while the administration warned of heightened violence in protests in a number of locations, despite the fact that rallies were lower than planned.
Two marches were held in Quito’s city, when police and students battled near a school.
“We have had to resort to resistance in view of the national government putting in place more and more policies of death, which don’t allow us to sustain our small economies,” Leonidas Iza, the chairman of CONAIE, told media.
“Mr. President, respond to the people on the most urgent, necessary and painful issues,” Iza said as he stood on a highway south of Quito with scores of other indigenous people, begging Lasso not to allow the International Monetary Fund to “impose” policies.
Lasso froze gasoline and diesel prices at higher levels than when he took office in October, sparking demonstrations that stopped when the government started discussions with indigenous organizations and others.
The negotiations have recently resumed, but indigenous leaders claim the government is not paying attention to their concerns.
In a contract that will expire this year, the South American nation agreed to a $6.5 billion loan from the IMF.
“This is a government looking for peace, looking for economic activation,” said Francisco Jimenez, the government minister in charge of talks.
Jimenez previously told media that many of the objectives had been addressed, with gasoline prices being stable for the past six months.
Roads linking Quito to the country’s north and south were partially blocked by soil, tires, and trees.
According to the administration, just three Andean provinces had blocked roadways, however an Amazon village had abducted several police, assaulted agricultural infrastructure, and even detonated a bomb at an oil block, though production was unaffected.
The administration has said that strategic sectors would be preserved. Lasso said on Sunday that he would not allow protestors to block highways or seize oil wells or public services.