Speaking from the balcony of Carondelet Palace Wednesday, President Guillermo Lasso pledged to protect Quito against a repeat of the violent protests of October 2019. “When they come to protest on October 26, they will not be able to set fire to buildings or kidnap anyone. We will not deny anyone their constitutional rights but we will confront those who would plot a coup,” he said, referring to the protest by indigenous and labor groups planned for Tuesday.
“Quito is the light of the Americas and I will not allow it to be trashed like it was in 2019,” the president told a crowd of supporters in Plaza Grande. “We welcome those who protest peacefully but not those intent on damaging this great city. I know that I can count on people like you to protect the city and defend Ecuadorian democracy.”
Lasso was joined on the balcony by his wife, María de Lourdes Alcívar, Interior Minister Alexandra Vela, Vice President Alfredo Borrero and other officials, while the crowd chanted “Lasso no se ahueva, dammit” and “Lasso El Presidente.”
Lasso’s reference to the October 2019 protests, was a response to comments by Leonidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie). On Monday, Iza said it might be necessary to “create another October 2019 get the attention of the government.”
Six people died and more than 100 were seriously injured during 10 days of protests in Quito, which caused an estimated $40 million in property damage. There were also violent confrontations between police and demonstrators in Cuenca and Guayaquil.
In addition to indigenous groups, labor, farmer and teacher organizations plan to participate in next week’s protest.
“It is my sincerest hope that the protests will be peaceful,” Lasso said. “If they turn violent, the thugs and criminals will have to fight the army.”