Although the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) agreed to suspend last week’s protests, it says its main demand remains unchanged: that the government freeze fuel prices at $2.10 a gallon for diesel and $1.50 for regular gasoline. Conaie President Leonidas Iza said his members will “return to the streets” after November 10 if the demand is not met. “This is a red line for the indigenous and campesino movement,” he said.
Last weekend, just days before the protests began, President Guillermo Lasso froze prices at $2.55 for diesel by $1.90 for gasoline, a level that Iza called an “insult.”
Iza agreed to meet Lasso November 10, following the president’s trip to Europe.
“Our efforts will not be over until prices are rolled back and until our other objectives are met,” Iza said Saturday following meetings with representatives of local indigenous groups. In addition to the fuel price reduction, Conaie is demanding that all those arrested during last week’s protests be released and that the government agree to scale back oil drilling and mining operations.
Following the protests, some members of the indigenous movement criticized Iza’s leadership, claiming he failed to build an effective coalition to oppose the government. “The protests did not include much of the campesino population, university students and others, people we need to build a broad base to oppose government policies,” said Carlos Aldaz, former president of the Union of Imbabura Campesinos. “This resulted in the low turnout we witnessed last week and the overall failure to produce results.”
Aldaz also criticized Iza’s focus on oil prices. “Yes, this is an important issue but it was mistake to make it the centerpiece of the protest.”