Ecuador’s president: Indigenous leader trying to stage a coup

Placeholder while loading article actions

Quito, Ecuador – Ecuador’s president on Friday accused the indigenous leader leading a nationwide strike of seeking to stage a coup and warned he would use all legal tools to contain the violence sparked by the demonstrations.

In televised remarks, President Guillermo Lasso said that Leonidas Iza, the leader of the Union of Indigenous Nationalities, intends to “overthrow the government.” But Lasso added that he was ready to engage in talks about ending the protests, which are now in their thirteenth day.

“It has been proven that the real (people’s) violent intention is to bring about a coup, and that is why we call on the international community to warn against this attempt to destabilize democracy in Ecuador,” Lasso said. “…Mr. Isa can no longer control the situation. The violence perpetrated by sneak criminals has spiraled out of control.”

The demonstrations are part of a nationwide strike initiated by the Union of Indigenous Nationals on June 14 to demand a reduction in gasoline prices by 45 cents a gallon to $2.10, price controls on agricultural products and a greater budget for education. The protests were particularly violent in six provinces in the north-central part of the South American country.

On Thursday, the union said a demonstrator died of injuries to the chest and stomach while protesting near the National Assembly in Quito, where about 100 people were injured. Police wrote on Twitter that the officers were also hit by shrapnel.

Marlon Santi, the coordinator of the union’s political wing known as Pachktik, demanded in a video on social media that the government meet the demands of indigenous peoples because “we are convinced that this is the spirit of our struggle”.

He demanded that the demonstrators return to places of peace and safety so as not to “endanger their lives. They have strength, force of arms, and economic power; we have strength of reason and dignity.”

Lawmakers from the Port La Esperanza caucus linked to former President Rafael Correa on Friday launched a legislative process seeking to impeach Lasso, but it does not have the necessary votes because other caucuses rejected the move. It would take the votes of at least 92 deputies to remove the lasso, while the union has only 47 seats.

In Quito, protesters blocking roads have brought the city to a virtual standstill and people are running short of food and fuel. Production Minister Julio Jose Prado said nearly 600 private cars and trucks carrying food were stuck in Nanigalito, an area 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Quito.

Groups of protesters roamed the city, attacking vehicles and civilians and forcing the closure of shops, some of which were looted. They also punctured bus tires, forcing passengers to walk.

Lasso urged the aborigines and peasants “brought to Quito by deception” to return to their communities for their own safety. He added that human rights groups should scrutinize the situation, which he said violates the rights of security forces, citizens and journalists.

The international human rights organization said four of its staff were physically assaulted and robbed on Thursday while “carrying out research and verification of the protests” in Quito.

“We reject these actions and call for dialogue,” the group wrote on Twitter.

This situation prompted several embassies, including those of Germany, Britain, Canada and the United States, to issue a public statement expressing concerns about the “fundamental rights of all citizens”. He called on the parties to negotiate and reach “concrete agreements.”

On Wednesday, the US State Department issued a warning to travelers about the widespread protests.

Leave a Comment