The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador leadership said it was “shocked” by President Guillermo Lasso’s Tuesday decision to break off negotiations. “Despite this insult, we remain willing to continue the dialog for the purpose of reaching a satisfactory conclusion to the strike,” Conaie said in a statement on its Twitter account.
“By breaking the dialog, the government has confirmed its authoritarianism, lack of will and incapacity,” the statement continued. “We demand respect for our maximum leader and point out that Lasso does not break with Leonidas Iza but with the people of Ecuador.”
In his announcement that the government was ending negotiations, Lasso accused Iza of “promoting his own political agenda” at the expense of the indigenous people. He also said Iza has lost control of the strike and is unable to stop the violence, including Monday’s ambush of a supply convoy, or convince his followers to unblock highways to allow humanitarian truck convoys to pass.
In addition to Conaie leadership, other officials pleaded with the president to change his mind and allow talks to continue. Ramiro Ávila, a former judge of the Constitutional Court, called the talks at the national basilica in Quito “essential” for achieving peace in the country. “Despite some drawbacks, they have been absolutely constructive in the first two days and I am stunned that they would be suspended,” he said.
In a television interview, Ávila agreed with Lasso that Iza’s leadership has been “diminished” but asked, “what are the alternatives to talking?” He suggested that Conaie add other leaders to negotiations so Iza is not the “only front man” in the talks.
National Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela, who has hosted the talks, also voiced disappointment at Lasso’s decision. “As far as I am concerned, the dialog is open and should continue. The question is whether or not the government will participate.”
Effort to impeach Lasso fails in National Assembly
As expected, President Guillermo Lasso survived an impeachment attempt Tuesday night in the National Assembly. The effort to oust the president, led by the Correista Union of Hope party, failed to win the 92 votes needed.
“Democracy has triumphed and the coup has failed,” Lasso wrote on his Twitter account following the 11 p.m. vote. The final vote, which was recalculated following complaints about the first ballot, was 80 in favor of impeachment, 48 against, with 9 abstentions.
Among those voting for impeachment was Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela. Guadalupe Llori, his predecessor in the presidency, voted against it.
Guido Chiroboga, of Lasso’s Creo party, said the vote strengthened the president’s hand against the Conaie strike. “Until the end of last week, Conaie and [Leonidas] Iza thought the Correista project to depose Lasso would succeed so tonight they are bitterly disappointed. Now they know they will have to work with him for a solution.”
According to Chiroboga, Lasso knew he would lose a few votes as a result of his Tuesday decision to end negotiations with Conaie. “This was a calcuated risk but he believed he had the votes to survive and he was right.”
Chiroboga addded that, by law, the National Assembly cannot make another attempt to impeach Lasso during his current term.
Long lines for gasoline and LP gas
City officials hope the arrival of new shipments of LP gas will shorten the lines of those waiting for refills. Mayor Pedro Palacios said that “multiple trucks” arrived Tuesday at Cuenca distribution centers from Guayaquil. “We understand more shipments will be allowed to pass in the coming days and hope waiting times will be reduced for customers.” Although some gas delivery companies are still selling one tank per customer, others say they have no gas to sell.
City mercados have fresh produce
Managers of Cuenca’s nine mercados say rumors they are out of fresh produce and meat are not true. “Supplies have been reduced because of the strike but most of our vendors still have products to sell,” said Juan Nazareno, assistant manager at 9 de Octubre. “Posts on social media and an article in El Comercio were incorrect that the mercados are empty.”
An unnamed vendor at 9 de Octubre said she and other sellers support the strike and are able to get supplies through the roadblocks. “We don’t have everything but food from the countryside continues to arrive. We don’t have the same problems as Supermaxi.”
Managers of several supermarkets also claim they continue to stock some fresh food. “Our supplies are limited but we still have products that are unavailable at other outlets,” the management of Coral food stores said Tuesday. “We have been able to maintain some of our supply lines.”
Few protests Tuesday
Due to street closures by taxi, bus and truck owners Tuesday, the size of protests in Parque Calderon were small. About 100 residents of Sigsig gathered at the government building at mid-day to support the strike while another group presented indigenous dances in the afternoon. Protest leaders say anti-government marches and protests will probably increase Wednesday.
Many restaurants close
Due to a lack of gas and food, many Cuenca restaurants have closed temporarily. “Some of the ones that closed today [Tuesday] will reopen tomorrow,” said restaurant owner Maria Velasque. “The transport strike kept customers away. We will see what happens now because many of us are having trouble getting supplies and we’re running out of cooking gas.”