As protests subside, labor union says it may return to the streets after the holidays
President of the United Workers Front (FUT) Ángel Sánchez said Wednesday night that anti-government protests could resume after the holiday weekend. “We believe we have delivered our message to the government and we await their response,” he said. “If we do not receive satisfaction we will consider calling a national strike after the holiday.”
Protests led by FUT and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) continued for a second day on Wednesday, although with fewer protesters in Quito and other major cities. Road closures continued around the country although police and army troops had cleared most of them by late Wednesday night.
Sánchez said the labor movement is in “continuous assembly” to decide future moves and said some of its supporters will remain in the street. “The anger of the people has not subsided and although we support the right of citizens to enjoy the holiday we know that some protesters will remain in public opposition. There will be travel disruptions and we condemn the government’s effort to end these through violence,” he said. “We insist on our constitutional right to resistance.”
According to police, there were fewer cases of confrontation on Wednesday and fewer arrests than on Tuesday. At several locations in Chimborazo, Pichincha and Imbabura Provinces, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds attempting to prevent the dismantling of roadblocks but no injuries were reported.
Another tense situation was defused by the Red Cross when two soldiers kidnapped near Otavalo were released Wednesday afternoon. Interior Minister Alexandra Vela said that an investigation is underway and that those responsible for the kidnapping would be prosecuted.
Conaie President Leonidas Iza again demanded the release of all those arrested during the protests, calling them “political prisoners.” He said that protests would continue in most of the country and said he will meet Thursday with the governing council of Conaie to decide future action. He did not respond to an invitation from President Guillermo Lasso for a November 10 meeting, following the president’s European trip.
In Cuenca, several dozen university students rallied at Parque Calderon to protest under-funding of public universities by the government and the increase in fuel costs. Protesters blocked traffic on highways in several locations near the city but most roadblocks had been lifted by 9 p.m. Wednesday.