Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza says Friday’s mobilization against rising fuel prices will be peaceful but says he may not be able to control the anger of some of his followers. The protest is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in Latacunga and may spread to other areas of the inter-mountain valley.
Iza, president of the Peasant Movement of Cotopaxi and candidate for the presidency of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), claims the government of former president Lenin Moreno violated an agreement to reinstate fuel subsidies that ended the October 2019 strike. “He used the occasion of the pandemic to break his pledge, knowing that people would be reluctant to take to the streets to protest,” he said. “Our mobilization is a grassroots movement aimed to creating a dialog and our hope is that it is peaceful.”
Iza, who was a leader of the 2019 protest, says he seeks talks with the government of Guillermo Lasso for the purpose of restoring fuel subsidies for diesel fuel and gasoline, claiming that higher prices hurt the poor and indigenous the most. He has invited officials to attend the Latacunga protests as well as National Assembly President Guadalupe Llori.
Moreno signed a decree in May 2020 ending subsidies for diesel and gasoline, allowing prices to increase to international market rates.
On Wednesday, Interior Minister Homero Castanier warned protest leaders against setting up roadblocks or other disruptions to transportation or commerce. “The government is not willing to sit down to talk under threat,” he said. “The Constitution establishes the right to protest and to disagree with the government but it does not provide the right paralyze transportation and other services.”