Lasso blasts National Assembly over ‘Opportunities’ rejection; Conaie threatens protests and a ‘return to October’; Higher oil prices will boost economy
Following what he called the “disappointing results” from a Monday meeting with President Guillermo Lasso, Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) President Leonidas Iza warned of a “return to October,” referring to the October 2019 protests that left six dead and hundreds injured in Quito.
“The government ignored our demands during the meeting and are now considering taking to the streets once again in a massive social action,” Iza said. “Because of the insensitivity of the president, we cannot rule out protests that equal or surpass the October 2019 mobilization. Our people are angry.”
Of the Conaie demands Iza said Lasso refused to discuss was an immediate freeze of the price of gasoline and diesel fuel. The president said the government would provide a subsidy to public transportation companies and that the “poorest and most vulnerable” segments of the population would not be affected by the plan to allow fuel prices rise to international market rates. On Friday, Iza said that the targeted subsidy is not enough, since higher costs affect the entire economy.
“The meeting ended without truth and without results,” Iza said. “We are adopting the motto, ‘October returns,’ and may announce the dates soon.”
Lasso blasts Assembly, says ‘Opportunities’ plan will succeed
“Insensitive and incapable” is how President Guillermo Lasso characterized the National Assembly that earlier this week rejected his Law of Labor Opportunities he says is necessary to revitalize the economy. “It is clear that by refusing to accept legislation that would create jobs and new opportunities, the Assembly is refusing to acknowledge the needs of the Ecuadorian people.”
Speaking at a celebration of Guayaquil’s independence, Lasso again suggested he would take his case directly to the people in a national referendum if he does not get satisfaction in the Assembly. “I will not walk away from this plan and intend to see it through to a successful conclusion, no matter what it takes.”
Beside a referendum, Lasso is also said to be considering invoking the so-called “death cross,” which would dissolve the Assembly and require new elections. According to aides, that option became more problematic last week due to the release of the Pandora Papers which list Lasso as owning off-shore financial accounts. Lasso says he liquidated all out-of-the-country holdings in 2017 prior to his unsuccessful presidential run against Lenin Moreno.
The Assembly voted last week to open an investigation into the president’s finances.
Higher oil prices could boost economy
Mired in a deep economic recession, Ecuador is poised to get some relief from higher oil prices. International oil prices closed the week at slightly less than $80 a barrel, with expert saying it could reach $100 by the end of the year. The current price is almost double the $43 price per barrel used to calculate the country’s annual budget.
Former finance minister Fausto Ortiz calls the high price a “windfall” and says it could produce an additional $600 to $700 million in revenue for the fiscal year. “Everything is speculative, of course, but most indicators point to continued high prices despite efforts by the U.S. and Russia to bring them down.”