Protests Continue in Ecuador despite State of Exception

People face off soldiers as they block a road during protests after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies in Lasso Ecuador

People face off soldiers as they block a road during protests after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies in Lasso Ecuador

Clashes broke out between protesters and police in Ecuador after President Lenin Moreno declared a "state of emergency" on Thursday (Oct 3) following demonstrations against rising fuel prices due to the government scrapping subsidies.

Witnesses said bus and taxi services remained on strike on Friday after fuel prices soared on Thursday following President Lenin Moreno's fiscal measures earlier in the week.

In Quito, students lobbed stones at ranks of riot police and armoured vehicles during the worst unrest for years in the country of 17 million people.

The country's transport federations later on announced the suspension of protest action, indicating an arrangement may well have been reached with the govt. Information of the offer were not right away announced, although there was speculation that it could include passenger fare hikes and special discounts for transportation operators getting autos and spare areas.

Local media reported on Friday, one day after 275 people were arrested and 28 police officers were injured in clashes during nationwide protests.

Diesel prices have risen from US$1.03 to US$2.30 per gallon, while gasoline went from US$1.85 to US$2.39. Street protests toppled three presidents during economic turmoil in the decade before Correa took power in 2007.

Moreno, who won election in 2017 to replace Rafael Correa, told reporters the "perverse" fuel subsidy, in place for 40 years, had distorted the economy and protests would not be allowed to paralyse Ecuador. "We're paralyzing the nation", said bus transport leader Abel Gomez.

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Ecuador will submit a package of fast-track economic reforms to meet terms of a $4.2 billion financing agreement with the International Monetary Fund, Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said, speaking alongside Jarrin from the presidential palace in Quito.

"But listen clearly: I am not going to change the measure, the subsidy is finished, no more loafing".

It was unclear why they called off their strike, though leaders said they were satisfied the government had heard their complaints.

The protests and the end of the subsidies come as Ecuador also announced this week that it would quit OPEC effective January 1, 2020, because of its fiscal problems as it seeks to raise government income and cut spending.

The elimination of the fuel subsidies, introduced in the 1970s, are part of Mr Moreno's plan to shore up Ecuador's flagging economy and ease its debt burden.

The deal allowed Ecuador to receive an immediate disbursement of US$652 million and paved the way for an additional US$6 billion in loans from other multilateral institutions. "The authorities need to sort this out, people are taking advantage of the situation", said housewife Matilde Ordoñez, 43, in Guayaquil.

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