Anti-government protests are scheduled today across Ecuador although national police say they expect fewer participants than during the August national strike. The protests are being organized by indigenous, labor, and student groups.
In Cuenca, 500 police will be on duty to monitor marches in the city’s historic district and on the Pan American highway between Tarqui and Cuenca. The police will also provide security this afternoon for a visit from President Rafael Correa.
Although more than 300 protesters and police were injured nationwide during the August demonstrations, there was only minor violence in Cuenca. Police commander Christian Marcelo Miño said he did not expect any trouble today and said police did not plan to use tear gas. “We expect peaceful marches but we will protect people and property,” he added.
The historic district march will begin at 4 p.m. on Simon Bolivar at Parque San Blas and end for speeches at Parque Calderon.
Correa will visit Cañar Province this morning and arrive by motorcade to Cuenca this afternoon. He is in town to dedicate a new athletic training facility. Protesters have demanded a meeting with the president but his office says his schedule is full.
The largest protests are expected in Quito but, in addition to Cuenca, marches are also planned in Loja, Azogues, Ambato, Riobamba, and Ibarra. Protesters are demanding a public referendum on constitutional amendments, including one that would allow Correa to seek another term in office, as well as a change in rural water management rules, and an end to oil exploration and mining in indigenous areas.
During the August national strike, there were violent clashes in Quito as well as in rural communities where protesters attempted to block highways. More than 60 protesters were arrested and about 30 remain in jail.
Protest leaders had predicted a turnout of hundreds of thousands and a protracted strike in August but protests were called off a week after they began. Police estimated that less than 50,000 participated in the strike.