Hundreds of indigenous people entered Ecuador’s capital Quito on Sunday, following almost a week of protests against the economic and social policies of President Guillermo Lasso, who has not been able to lift road blocks and violence across the country.
Indigenous protesters arrived in trucks, cars, and on foot amid a state of exception declared by Lasso in three provinces – including that of Quito – in a bit to curb protests that have at times seen violence, with police captured, and attacks on oil industry and flower farms.
More protesters were still making their way towards the city, according to a Reuters witness.
Protests began on Monday with a list of 10 demands, including a fuel price cut, preventing further expansion of Ecuador’s oil and mining industry, and more time for small and medium sized farmers to pay their debts.
Lasso has called for dialogue and announced measures to help vulnerable sectors of society, including subsidized fertilizer, increased budget for health and education for indigenous communities, and forgiveness of outstanding loans of up to $3 000.
Though the measures offer some help, protesters say they do not fix the economic problems faced by thousands of families each day.
“We have come to resist a neoliberal policy that affects the poor more and more,” Leonidas Iza, president of the CONAIE indigenous organization, said over social media.
The private sector had lost some $50 million as of Friday, according to the government, while state-oil company Petroecuador said production was affected to the tune of 27 700 barrels of crude.
The government deployed security personnel in a strong show of force in Quito, where a curfew is in place, to stop protesters entering the city.