Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno yesterday said he would repeal a decree that slashed IMF-backed fuel subsidies “in coming hours,” confirming that he had given into a key demand of protesters who had spent nearly two weeks agitating against it.
Moreno added that a new decree would be issued to ensure that resources go to those who most need it, though he did not specify when. “We have opted for peace,” Moreno said on Twitter.
The comment follows a deal struck with indigenous protesters leaders late on Sunday that ended demonstrations that had rocked the highland capital of Quito and forced Moreno’s government to relocate to safer ground on the coast.
Indigenous protesters who had streamed into Quito from Andean and Amazonian provinces to demand Moreno reinstate the fuel subsidies piled into buses that departed the city yesterday.
“We’re going back to our territories,” said Inti Killa, an indigenous man from the Amazonian region of Napo. “We’ve shown that the union and conviction of the people is a volcano that nobody can stop.”
University students, municipal workers and other residents of Quito cleared burned tyres and cobblestones that had been torn from streets of the capital’s downtown district as the smell of tear gas hung in the air.
The protests had grown increasingly chaotic in recent days as the government launched a crackdown to stop extremists whom it blamed for infiltrating the protests and wreaking havoc on the city.
In recent days, authorities reported the office of the comptroller’s office, a local TV station and military vehicles had been set on fire.
Moreno met with Jaime Vargas, the head of the indigenous umbrella grouping CONAIE, for four hours of talks in the capital Quito broadcast live on state television.
“With this agreement, the mobilisations...across Ecuador are terminated and we commit ourselves to restoring peace in the country,” said a joint statement.
Thousands flooded into the streets of Quito shortly after the announcement, waving the national flag, honking horns and setting off fireworks in celebration.
The statement was read by an official from the United Nations, which mediated the talks along with the Catholic Church.
“The measures applied in all our territories are lifted,” confirmed Vargas, referring to roads and oil facilities in the Amazon blocked by protesters for almost two weeks.
Those actions suspended the distribution of almost 70% of the country’s crude oil.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had earlier called on all groups “to commit to inclusive and meaningful talks, and to work in good faith towards a peaceful solution.”
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