Government, Conaie talks end with three agreements; Lasso says he’ll reconsider fuel prices
Following a full day of meetings at the Presidential Palace in Quito, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) and President Guillermo Lasso said Wednesday night that significant progress was made and that negotiations will continue.
According to both Lasso and Conaie President Leonidas Iza, consensus was reached on three of the six agenda topics: Forgiveness of debts and provision of additional credit for small farmers; Guaranteeing fair prices for agricultural products, including price supports if necessary, and increasing efforts to stop smuggling across the Peruvian and Colombian borders; and increasing funding for intercultural education with protections of indigenous customs and language.
Still unresolved is the issue of fuel subsidies. Conaie is insisting prices of gasoline and diesel full be rolled back to early 2020 levels while the government only agreed in October to freeze prices at current rates. Unlike his position at the October meeting with Conaie, Lasso said he is “now open” to considering a reduction and that the matter is under review.
“We reached some agreement today and I believe more will follow,” Lasso said. “I believe in democratic principles and the importance of dialogue and we saw the results of that process today. Our country is going through several crises that require working together with people with various views and solutions. All Ecuadorians share the interest to move forward and achieve the common good.”
Conaie President Leonidas Iza, acknowledged that progress was made during the meeting but said more work lies ahead. “We expressed today at the dialogue table our support for the solutions the government is offering and look forward to discussing the pending issues.”
Iza did not bring up the topic of Lasso’s overseas accounts that were revealed in the Pandora Papers, a journalistic project that listed mostly unreported overseas financial accounts and assets held by current and former political leaders. On Monday, he said it appeared Lasso had violated a 2017 prohibiting candidates and public office holders from maintaining off-shore accounts.
Efforts in the National Assembly to begin impeach proceeding against Lasso appeared to founder on Tuesday when several assembly members complained that the case lacked sufficient evidence to continue.