Lasso issues new emergency declaration to cover more provinces, foils Assembly effort for repeal
President Guillermo Lasso has replaced the state of emergency he ordered Friday with new one that includes three additional provinces. In repealing Friday’s order, the president said he was responding to new incidents of violence and the need to protect citizens.
The new emergency declaration covers Chimborazo, Tungurahua and Pastaza Provinces well as Pichincha, Imbabura and Cotopaxi, which were included in Friday’s order. The change came just as the National Assembly was considering a repeal of Friday’s declaration.
In addition to adding three provinces to the emergency, the new declaration relaxes the prohibition on public gathering, allowing peaceful protests. Still in place are the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in Quito, the use “as necessary” of the armed forces to maintain order, and the use of progressive force by police in reaction to violent acts.
Lasso’s latest move comes as thousand for protesters, including Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) President Leonidas Iza, prepare to enter Quito. Iza has called on his followers to avoid violence and to stop acts of vandalism and destruction of property whenever possible. “We arrive as a peaceful protest, demading that the government accept our agenda of change,” he said. “This is not a violent uprising.”
The new emergency declaration infuriated opposition members of the National Assembly who had hoped to repeal Lasso’s Friday’s declaration, claiming it infringed on the right to protest and assembly. It is unclear if the Correista Union of Hope (UNES), the Pachakutik party and some members of the Democractic Left will pursue repeal of Lasso’s latest declaration since it cannot be considered until Wednesday at the earliest.
Earlier Monday, the opposition thought it had the votes to repeal the original emergency declaration but when the Assembly convened at 5 p.m., they were five votes short.
An angry Juan Lloret (UNES) called Lasso’s new declaration a “government trick” and insisted it would not go unpunished, suggesting he may introduce impeachment legislation. “The country is in crisis and the president has lost control,” he said. “He should be removed from office immediately.”
Assemblyman Fernando Villavicencio, an independent, said that Lasso had “made fools” of his opponents and defended the emergency declaration. “If they want to repeal Monday’s declaration the president will simply order a another one. They don’t have the votes for repeal in any case and they certainly don’t have the votes for impeachment.”
Violence in Quito. National Police reported “a number of violent incidents” Monday night in Quito as police and protesters clashed in the city’s historic district. “On several occasions, protesters attempted to dismantle barricades and we were forced to use tear gas to disperse them,” police said in a statement, adding that three people were treated for injuries after being struck by gas canisters.
As of 10 p.m., police reported that order in the historic district had been restored.
Iza’s car was hit by a paintball. Investigators in Latacunga say that it was a paintball, not a bullet, fired at Iza’s car on Sunday. According to prosecutor Alberto Armendáriz, the object that struck a front window of the vehicle was fired from a “paintball gun,” not a firearm. “The projectile shattered the glass of the window but did not penetrate it,” he said. “The force of paintball could have caused injury but, fortunately, there was no damage expect to the window.”
Quiet in Cuenca and the south. National Police reported no serious violent incidents in Azuay, Loja and Cañar Provinces on Monday. In a statement, the zonal command said that the number of roadblocks in the area is declining and that vehicles were able to travel safely between Cuenca and Guayaquil for most of the day. Roadblocks remain in place on the highway between Cuenca and Machala, police say, and can be erected anywhere on short notice.
About 100 University of Cuenca students and members of the United Workers Front marched on the provincial government building on Parque Calderon Monday in support of the national strike. Police said the protest were peaceful.