Ecuadorian government lifts state of emergency amid protests

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso on Saturday lifted the state of emergency he imposed in six provinces during an indigenous-led strike, a surprising move that came after lawmakers in the National Assembly heard an opposition petition to to remove him from the office.

The decision to end the state of emergency followed a first meeting between government officials and Ecuador’s largest indigenous organization, which began the strike two weeks ago to demand cuts in gasoline prices, price controls on agricultural products and an increased budget. for education. Lasso had accused the native leader who led the sometimes violent strike of committing a coup.

After Saturday’s meeting, National Assembly Speaker Virgilio Saquicela said a committee would be formed to facilitate dialogue to end the strike.

“The national government reaffirms its willingness to guarantee the creation of spaces for peace, in which Ecuadorians can gradually resume their activities,” said a statement announcing the decree to end the state of emergency.

The meeting was held at the basilica church in Quito’s colonial center and was attended by, among others, the President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, Leonidas Iza, other social leaders, Foreign Minister Francisco Jiménez and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos. Holguin.

“No commitment has been made, just a decision by the (Indigenous Confederation) … to consult its bases on the designation of a commission to initiate this dialogue,” Saquicela said, adding that “the government has approved the corresponding opening has made. “

Iza said the strike would not end until their demands were met. “Instead of scaring us more, they have increased our rebellion, dignity,” he said.

Iza said the strikers will rest over the weekend and called for the opening of corridors in the interprovincial border areas to allow food to pass through and supply Quito, which is struggling with a shortage of agricultural products.

Meanwhile, the opposition Union for Hope party, which has ties to former President Rafael Correa, called for Lasso’s removal in a virtual legislative session. The request was based on a state of emergency declared over “severe internal unrest”, which has now been lifted.

It would take the votes of at least 92 lawmakers to remove Lasso, while the Union for Hope has just 47 seats.

On Thursday, the indigenous confederation said a protester died of bullet wounds to the chest and abdomen while protesting near the National Assembly in Quito, where about 100 other people suffered various injuries. Police tweeted that officers were also injured by pellets.

In Quito, protesters blocking roads have nearly brought the city to a standstill and people face food and fuel shortages. Groups of protesters have roamed the city attacking vehicles and civilians and shutting down businesses, some of which were looted.

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