QUITO – Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has decreed a curfew and militarization in the Quito metropolitan district to help security forces stamp out this Saturday’s protest against the elimination of fuel subsidies.
“I have imposed a curfew and the militarization of the Quito Metropolitan District and valleys. It will begin at 3:00 pm. This will facilitate the action taken by security forces against this intolerable violence,” the president said on social media.
A new display of violence on Saturday was the seizure of the Comptroller’s Office of the State of Ecuador in Quito, where protesters started a fire that raged through the building and burned, among other things, many important documents.
Seen in photos shared on social networks are the flames and thick smoke issuing from the lower floors of the building, located close to the National Assembly legislature.
Another government response to such violence came from the Interior Ministry, which asked citizens to “go home.”
“This measure (the curfew) will be in force until further notice,” it added.
Driving around the militarized streets will only be allowed with a letter of safe-conduct.
Moreno took the decision based on the escalation of protests by the indigenous movement, which this Saturday paralyzed the city of Quito by means of a massive operation of marches, blockades and picketers, while thousands of militants defied the forces of order in the downtown area of the capital.
Strangely enough, the outburst of violence was followed by a message from Ecuador’s Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) accepting the president’s offer to sit down together and come to an agreement.
Though the group at first had categorically refused to enter into a dialogue with Moreno unless he restored fuel subsidies, the principal demand of the protests, Conaie changed its position in “a process of consultation with the communities, organizations, villages, nationalities and social organizations,” it said in a statement.
Ecuador has been living through massive protests for 10 days, a reaction against the decree signed by the president eliminating subsidies on gasoline.