Protesters force Ecuador gov’t to flee capital
QUITO (AP) — Thousands of indigenous people, some carrying long sticks, converged on Ecuador’s capital Tuesday as anti-government protests and clashes led the president to move his besieged administration out of Quito.
The South American country of 17 million people appeared to be at a dangerous impasse, paralyzed by a lack of public transport and blockaded roads that were taking a toll on an already vulnerable economy.
Violence has persisted since last week, when President Lenin Moreno’s decision to end subsidies led to a sharp increase in fuel prices. Protesters seized some oil installations and the state oil company, Petroecuador, warned that production losses could reach 165,000 barrels a day, or nearly one-third of total production, if insecurity continues.
The government declared an overnight curfew around key state installations and government buildings as well as vital infrastructure such as airports and oil refineries.
Earlier Tuesday, protesters broke through police barriers and some entered the empty congress building in Quito. Police fired tear gas and forced them to retreat.
Indigenous protesters occupied two water treatment plants in the city of Ambato, south of the capital, raising concern about supply to residents, according to municipal authorities.
On Monday night, hundreds of people rampaged through the Duran area near the port city of Guayaquil, looting pharmacies, electronic appliance stores and other buildings.
In another part of Ecuador, police abandoned an armored vehicle to protesters who set it on fire. In multiple areas, rioters smashed car windows, broke into shops and confronted security forces.
Demonstrators clash with police officers during a protest against Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s austerity measures in Quito, Ecuador, Tuesday.