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By BO Staff Writer
A day after the government decreed a curfew in a bid to stop the protests, a national strike has begun in Ecuador. Ecuador’s indigenous peoples and the other poor communities are united in action against President Lenin Moreno’s neoliberal government reforms.
Many leftist governments in Latin America like Bolivia and Venezuela; as well as social movements and other progressive forces have pledged their support for the protests that have gripped Ecuador. Among the social organisations expressing solidarity are Colombia’s Indigenous organization; Brazil’s MST; and Argentina’s Movement for the People.
The presidential palace in Quito, to which President Moreno returned after he fled to Guayaquil earlier in the week, has been encircled by thousands of protesters who are demanding that the IMF austerity measures (which legitimizes the fuel subsidy cuts).announced by Moreno be removed.
It is also significant that the Telecommunication Control and Regulation Agency of Ecuador yesterday instituted a case against a public radio station, Pichincha Universal, ordering it to immediately suspend its activities and close down.
A day before police seized the radio station’s transmitting equipment following the state prosecutor’s claim that the radio station unlawfully incited unrest. The government has also issued a detention warrant against the station’s director, Washington Yepez. The radio station has been leading the coverage of the protests.
It is now over a week since the start of the protests which has progressively grown into a general strike. The situation is apparently extremely tense. Protesters are reportedly arming themselves with bricks, petrol bombs and stones against the paramilitary police force which has responded with stun grenades, clubs and tear gas.
Since the announcement of the austerity measures by Moreno at least 5 people have been killed including a one month old baby; 95 people have been badly injured; 85 people have disappeared including 47 underage children; in excess of 800 people have been arrested including 13 journalists and 26 politicians; numerous people have been arbitrarily detained including 14 Venezuelans who were not participating in the protests; 57 journalists have been injured by security forces; and 9 media houses have been censored.
Many demonstrators will be protesting overnight thereby defying a curfew ordered earlier in the week. In the meantime ex-president Correa blamed Moreno and his neoliberal policies for Ecuador’s crisis.
Moreno is adamant that he will not back down. However aides have reportedly confirmed that the government will engage with the leaders of the protest through the mediation of Church and the United Nations.