Ecuador’s Military Backs President as More Protests Planned

Oct 9, 2019
11:35 AM

Anti-government demonstrators gather in El Arbolito Park to march against President Lenín Moreno and his economic policies in Quito, Ecuador, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

By GONZALO SOLANO, Associated Press

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador’s military has warned people who plan to participate in a national strike over fuel price hikes to avoid acts of violence.

The military says it will enforce the law during the planned strike Wednesday, following days of unrest that led President Lenín Moreno to move government operations from Quito to the port of Guayaquil.

In a statement, the military also appealed to Ecuadorians to denounce anyone who uses the cover of the protest to carry out vandalism and other crimes.

The military’s backing is key for Moreno, who said late Tuesday that his government is negotiating with dozens of indigenous groups protesting against the fuel price hikes.

The president said the dialogue is difficult because so many indigenous groups are involved. He also said he will not resign despite widespread discontent in the South American nation of 17 million.

Ecuador’s political crisis shows no signs of abating. While labor groups planned the strike Wednesday, economic activity in much of the country has already been stalled by clashes, looting, blockades and other disruptions.

A general view of the place named “El Arbolito” full of teargas during protests against the government in. Quito, Ecuador, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

Violence started last week after Moreno ended fuel subsidies, leading to price increases. The government says about 570 people have been arrested.

The disturbances have spread from transport workers to students and then to indigenous demonstrators, an ominous turn for the government. Indigenous protesters played a major role in the 2005 resignation of Ecuador’s president at the time, Lucio Gutiérrez, though the military’s tacit approval was key to his removal.