QUITO – Indigenous people in Ecuador announced on Saturday a “state of emergency” and warned that they will hold military personnel approaching their territories amid continuing protests against the government’s decision to scrap decades-long fuel subsidies.
The Confederation of indigenous communities in Ecuador (CONAIE) – the biggest indigenous organization of the country – in a statement defended the imposition of emergency because the government’s move “affects the entire Ecuadorian society and deteriorates the living conditions and existence of the most vulnerable popular sectors of the country.”
The group said that it was as par their “right to self-determination” and their authority to carry out justice in the jurisdiction of the peoples and nationalities, recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in the country’s constitution.
“Military and police who approach indigenous territories will be retained and subjected to the indigenous justice,” the CONAIE said in the statement.
The government has insisted that it won’t revoke its austerity policy that was imposed as per the government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The government doubled the price of fuel overnight and sharply raised gasoline prices on Thursday as President Lenin Moreno, who took office in 2017, also declared the state of emergency after violence erupted in cities of the Andean nation.
The subsidy cut led to an increase in gasoline price from $1.85 to $2.30 while the diesel price jumped to $2.27 from $1.03.
Transport unions suspended their strike on Friday but the indigenous groups and students vowed to keep protesting until Moreno overturns the decision.
However, very few buses plied on Saturday in cities like Quito while taxis moved around smoothly.
The Ecuadorian government on Saturday said that the municipalities will be able to authorize tariff hike of 5 and 10 cents (of the dollar) on transport. However, the measure will not be applicable to students and some other sectors.