Government prepares for today’s protests; Bank chief wants answers about Banco Pichincha hack; Police dismantle drug gangs, make arrests in Guayaquil

Oct 26, 2021 | 16 comments

President Guillermo Lasso said Monday night that the government is prepared for today’s protests and repeated his pledge that the police and armed forces will keep major highways open. Protests began at midnight in the central sierra and are scheduled throughout the day in other locations, with the largest protest scheduled this afternoon in Quito.

National Assemblyman Salvador Quishpe

The protests, which were announced last week, focus on the price of gasoline and diesel, which were frozen by Lasso last week at current rates. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), which is sponsoring the protest, says prices should be subsidized at October 2019 levels.

The scope of the protests is unclear following the announcement by the National Campesino Movement that it will not to participate. The farmers organization said it is reached agreements with the government that will provide relief to its members and said it did not want to “participate in an act of social disruption.” The movement was a partner with Conaie in the October 2019 protests.

Also on Monday, Pachakutik Assemblyman Salvador Quishpe said he is joining  the Conaie protest, saying he was “deceived” by the government regarding the freeze on fuel prices. He claims that Lasso allowed higher prices to go into effect prior to announcing the freeze to placate the International Monetary Fund.

Bank chief wants answers about Banco Pichincha cyberattack
Ecuador Bank Superintendent Ruth Arregui has ordered Banco Pichincha management to provide an explanation of how its online system was hacked and how the bank will prevent future cyberattacks. Pichincha’s online banking services were suspended from October 10 to 16 and 10 later customers are still reporting difficulty accessing the system.

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In comments before the National Assembly Economic Development Commission, Arregui said that explanations by the bank have been “inadequate” and her office and the public deserve a full accounting of how the system was hacked and the measures taken to avoid future hacks. She is also asking the bank to report if personal information of clients was stolen in the attack.

In a statement last week, bank officials blamed the disruption on cyber criminals from Russia and North Korea but offered no further details about the claim.

Military police conduct a car search in Guayas Province on Saturday.

Arregui said her office is monitoring Banco Pichinha’s response to the disruption and said she will make sure that all bank customers who suffered loses during the attack are fully compensated.

Anti-crime operations focus on Guayaquil
The National Police report that they have conducted 11,100 operations that have resulted in arrests and confiscations in Guayaquil and Guayas Province since President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency two weeks ago. Violent crime and murders have doubled in Guayaquil over the past 12 months, almost all of it related to illegal drug activity.

According to police, seven drug gangs have been dismantled with 220 gang members arrested during the operations which also resulted in the confiscation of 544 motorcycles, 231 cars and trucks, hundreds of firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, drones, explosives and illegal drugs.

In addition, police report they have conducted searchers of 70,665 vehicles and 86,154 individuals in Guayas Province.

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