After earlier insisting it would “remain in the streets,” the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) decided Thursday afternoon to suspend its anti-government protests. Several of Conaie’s protest partners had announced Wednesday night that they were withdrawing their participation and planned to reevaluate their positions.
Speaking to supporters in Alausi, Conaie President Leonidas Iza said the decision to suspend the protest was temporary and that mobilizations would resume after the Cuenca independence holiday and Day of the Dead. “I understand our people need sleep,” he said. “Many of our members have been on the front lines for 72 hours without sleep and now we need to rest before we resume the fight for justice.”
Iza said he would accept President Guillermo Lasso invitation to talk but said the meeting must be held in public. “I want full transparency and for everyone to hear what is said. No more government deceit.”
The secession of protests, which had closed highways throughout the country and resulted in confrontations with police in Quito, came as Iza and Conaie faced angry news and social media reaction for disruptions of public transportation and the transport of farm goods. At the Alausi meeting, two dairy farmers complained to Iza that they had lost hundreds of dollars in milk due to roadblocks. “I thought this was about fighting the government, not small farmers,” one said.
On social media sites, commenters accused Iza and Conaie of poor management of the protests. “Where are the students, where are the environmentalists, where are the women?” one poster said. “Effective protest needs a broad base to confront the abuses of the government. Instead, all we see is a ragged army of Guevarists and communists, not the dedicated leftists who care about the poor people.”
‘Insulted’ Correistas walk out of Assembly
The National Assembly erupted in a chorus of shouts on Thursday after new Assembly Vice President Yeseña Guamaní referred to former president Rafael Correa as a “refugee from justice.” After Assembly President Guadalupe Llori gaveled the room to order, the UNES delegation, supporters of Correa, walked out of the Assembly hall.
In her comments, Guamaní, a member of the Democratic Left party, spoke about the two arrest warrants against the former president. Outside the Assembly, members of the UNES delegation said they were insulted by Guamaní’s statement and claimed Correa is the victim of political persecution and has committed no crimes.
Older adults are eligible for Covid boosters
Minister of Health Ximena Garzón said Thursday that residents over the age of 65 are now eligible for Covid-19 booster shots six months after receiving the second dose the first vaccine. She said that the government has sufficient doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for all the country’s seniors.
Garzón said AstraZeneca works well in boosting earlier doses of Pfizer and Sinovac. “There is no problem of combining vaccines and some scientists recommend it for providing an additional level of protection against the virus,” she said. “We are following the scientific advice of the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control with this decision,” she said.
In Cuenca, the boosters will be given at several vaccines centers. Local Ministry of Health officials said those interested should consult the ministry’s website for location information.
Lasso prefers dialog with Assembly for ‘Opportunities’ bill
On Thursday, President Guillermo Lasso downplayed the possibility of dissolving the National Assembly and calling new elections, saying he preferred to resolve disagreements about his “Opportunities” employment plan through dialog. “Let’s put talk about the death cross talk on hold and focus on working out our difference through discussion,” he said.
The president made the comment before delivering the first part of the proposed legislation, addressing “fiscal stability,” to the Assembly Friday morning. Following the rejection of the original legislation, Lasso agreed to break his proposal into three parts. He said the part that addresses labor law will be submitted next week.