In an unexpected move, President Guillermo Lasso rescinded the state of emergency he ordered just five days ago. The emergency, a response to anti-government protest violence, applied to Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Pichincha, Pastaza and Imbabura Provinces.
Earlier Saturday, representatives of the government and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) met for the first time at the Basilica of Quito. The meeting, also unexpected, was arranged and hosted by National Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela who said the country was “desperate” for dialog to begin between the opposing sides. The meeting was attended by Conaie President and strike leader Leonidas Iza and other indigenous leaders, Government Minister of Francisco Jiménez, Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguín, among others.
Following the meeting, Saquicela reported the two sides discussed establishing “technical tables” to resolve their differences.
Iza made clear that Conaie was making no commitment to begin formal discussions and said he would hold meetings with the indigenous organizations that make up Conaie. “We will consult our bases and make a decision about whether to proceed with dialog,” he said.
Political analyst and Quito business consultant Max Donoso Muller described the afternoon’s events as “a case of whiplash.”
“Less than a day ago, both the government and Conaie were digging in on their positions,” he said. “Lasso basically called Iza a terrorist and coup leader who could not be trusted and announced the government would use increased force to put down the strike. For his part, Iza said Conaie would not compromise and was not interested in talking.” Muller added: “What a difference a day makes.”
Adding to Saturday’s drama, the National Assembly convened at 6 p.m. to begin impeachment proceedings against Lasso. “This is a Corresista effort that appears to be going nowhere but, by rule, Saquicela must allow debate,” he says. “Lasso’s plan to use more force against protesters could persuade several Pachakutik members to vote for impeachment but the plan will still not have the 91 votes necessary to dismiss the president.”