Cuenca will be the staging ground for indigenous protest march to Quito

Jul 28, 2015 | 1 comment

Leaders of indigenous organizations in southern Ecuador are mobilizing their members in preparation for a national strike beginning August 13. Strike organizers will meet Saturday in Cuenca to finalize plans.

Indigenous leaders at a meeting in Cuenca on Saturday,

Indigenous leaders meeting in Cuenca on Sunday.

The organizations, which are protesting a long list of government policies, say that marches will begin Sunday in Loja and Zamora Chinchipe Provinces, headed for Cuenca. The local Pachakutik organization announced a march through Cuenca’s historic district on Friday.

Floresmilo Simbaña, spokesman for Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), says the marches will be “massive” and that the strike will last indefinitely. He said that 14 indigenous communities will participate. “This is an indigenous initiative and we are incorporating all our brothers and sisters into it,” he said. “This will be a true Indian uprising.”

One issue sure to be discussed at Saturday’s meeting is President Rafael Correa’s promise that he will not allow highway closures. Several indigenous leaders have said they plan to “shut down” all traffic in and out of Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil.

When asked about a potential conflict with the government, Simbaña said the subject will be discussed and a plan formlated.  “We intend to keep our protest peaceful, and if there is any trouble it will be on the part of the goernment,” he said.

The indigenous marches will be joined near Quito by other groups protesting government policy, including retirees, labor unions and teachers’ organizations.

As preparations continue for a national strike, new polls show that support for Correa continues to be strong. A new Cedatos Gallup poll shows his popularity increasing from 42% to 45% in the past two weeks. Other polls show his popularity as high as 65%.

The results from both polls make him the most popular leader in Latin America.