Conaie and government continue talks to end strike; Fuel costs dominate Monday’s negotiations
In the first day of negotiations between the government and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, the price of low-octane gasoline and diesel fuel dominated the agenda. Conaie President Leonidas Iza is asking for an additional 40-cent reduction in price following President Guillermo Lasso’s Sunday announcement of a 10-cent reduction.
Iza also insisted that the government drop its plan to expand mining operations and that Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo resign for “committing acts of violence against indigenous strikers.”
In a session that began at 3:30 Monday afternoon and concluded at 10, Government Minister Francisco Jiménez said the Ministry of Finance was calculating the costs of a “targeted subsidy” for the poorest drivers. He said the 40 cent reduction would cost the government an estimated $700 million, money the treasury does not have.
Representatives from Conaie and the government agreed to meet Monday afternoon in Quito following decision by Conaie’s government council decision agreed to begin formal negotiations. Iza said that the anti-government strike that has paralyzed the nation for two weeks would continue until an agreement is reached.
The two sides are meeting at the Liceo Matovelle in the Quito Basilica, with 50 representatives of indigenous organizations that make up Conaie, and 30 representatives from the government.
In addition, the government delegation includes National Elections Council President Diana Atamaint as well as National Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela.
Saquicela hosted a preliminary meeting between Iza and Jiménez on Saturday, also at the Basilica, in which Iza refused to commit to formal talks until he had consulted Conaie leadership. On Monday morning, Iza said the leadership had agreed to begin official talks.
At the opening of the meeting, Iza said the focus of talks will be the 10 demands that Conaie submitted to the government in May. “We will go through these point by point and make certain the government understands exactly what it is we are asking,” he said.
As talks began, police reported that Monday was “quietest protest day in more than a week in Quito,” saying there were no major incidents of violence. Although protests were subdued in Quito, they intensified in other cities, including Cuenca, on Monday,