Ecuador: Agreement ends 18 days of strike

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador’s government and the country’s main indigenous group reached an agreement on Thursday to end 18 days of often violent strikes that had virtually paralyzed the country and killed at least four people. had cost lives.

The deal, which includes a cut in the price of fuel and other concessions, was signed by government minister Francisco Jiménez, indigenous leader Leonidas Iza and the head of the bishops’ conference, Monsignor Luis Cabrera, who acted as mediator.

The agreement stipulates that gasoline prices will fall by 15 cents to $2.40 a gallon and diesel prices will fall by the same amount, from $1.90 a gallon to $1.75.

The deal also puts limits on the expansion of oil exploration areas and bans mining activities in protected areas, national parks and water sources.

The government now has 90 days to provide solutions to the demands of the indigenous groups.

“Social peace will only be achieved, hopefully soon, through a dialogue with a special focus on marginalized communities, but always with respect for everyone’s rights,” Cabrera said.

He further warned that “if state policy does not solve the problem of the poor, the people will revolt.”

“We know we have a country with a lot of division, a lot of problems, with unresolved injustices, with important populations that are still marginalized,” Jiménez said.

The two sides had started negotiations on Monday and an agreement seemed within reach until an attack allegedly carried out by indigenous people on a fuel convoy killed a military officer and injured 12 others, forcing the government to suspend negotiations.

Authorities have directly attributed four deaths to the 18-day strike.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities had launched an indefinite national strike on June 13, demanding, among other things, a cut in the price of fuel and an increase in the budget for health and education, as well as price controls on certain goods.

Amid mounting shortages of food and fuel and millions of losses to farmers and business leaders, the two sides agreed to begin negotiations.

The protests were marked by severe roadblocks that prevented the transport of food, fuel and even ambulances. As a result, the price of food that has reached cities has risen sharply, especially in the northern Andes, one of the areas hardest hit by the strike.