QUITO – The opposition governor of Pichincha province was arrested on Monday, the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office said, without offering any reason for the detention that came hours after the announcement of an accord between the government and indigenous groups ending protests over austerity measures.
The AG Office said on Twitter that Paola Pabon and two other people were taken into custody.
“In the searches, agents confiscated indications such as technological equipment, telephones, substances subject to oversight and documentation,” prosecutors said.
Located in north-central Ecuador, Pichincha province includes Quito.
Pabon is a member of the Citizen Revolution party, aligned with former President Rafael Correa, who has been living in his wife’s native Belgium since stepping down in 2017 after a decade in power.
Citizen Revolution arose after Correa’s successor, Lenin Moreno, drove his predecessor’s supporters and allies out of the governing Alianza Pais party.
“Today they entered my home in the early morning hours and broke down my door while I slept. They arrested me without evidence. In a democracy, to be part of the opposition cannot be a crime. It is not a democracy when political opponents are persecuted this way,” Pabon wrote on Twitter.
A video circulating on social media shows police taking a visibly angry Pabon into custody.
“This is the repression of the Moreno government. This is the famous rule of law. This is the peace they propose for Ecuador,” she is heard to say.
“This historic movement of October 2019 is a citizens’ movement, it’s a social movement,” Pabon said, referring to the 11 days of protests that followed the Moreno administration’s Oct. 3 enactment of the sweeping austerity package known as Decree 883.
The most controversial aspect of the plan was the end of fuel subsidies, which spurred a 123 percent increase in the price of diesel, but the government also slashed public employees’ pay by 20 percent and took steps toward the privatization of pensions.
Though many sectors took part in the protests, the impetus for the mobilization came from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie).
Moreno and Conaie leader Jaime Vargas reached agreement on Sunday on an end to the protests in exchange for the abrogation of Decree 883.
The president responded to the protests by declaring a state of emergency and even abandoned Quito for several days, moving his administration to the coastal city of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s economic hub.
The president said that the unrest was being orchestrated by allies of Correa, Moreno’s one-time political mentor.
After serving for several years as Correa’s vice president, Moreno won election on a promise to maintain the center-left policies of the Alianza Pais party.
Instead, he has moved to reverse virtually all of Correa’s initiatives and programs.