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October protests cost the country more than a billion dollars but final tally is in doubt

An October protest street scene in Quito.

Although most of the physical damage has been repaired, business, agricultural and employment losses suffered during the October protests continue to take a toll on Ecuador’s economy. The agricultural sector, in particular, takes exception to the Central Bank’s official estimate of $821 million in losses suffered during the 11 days of protest and their aftermath, saying they are much higher.

Central Bank president Verónica Artola

“You can add at least $200 million in losses, both in direct sales, lost exports and vandalism, and that could still be too low,” says Richard Salazar, of the Banana Marketing and Export Association. “There was a ripple effect of damage caused during that period, including the loss of jobs, that is difficult to calculate and it will take many more months to fully recover,” he adds.

The Central Bank (ECB) issued its loss figure last week, saying it was assisted by the World Bank in computing the final number. “Our estimate is that the country suffered $701 in economic losses in the area of lost sales and other income and $120 million in property damage,” says Verónica Artola, president of the ECB. “We are confident in our estimate although we acknowledge there are damages we missed and that there may be ongoing losses that remain to be calculated.”

She added that strike-related losses had a direct impact on Ecuadorian families. “Our number means that 173,000 families did not receive the basic salary for the entire year.”

In addition to the agricultural sector, the tourism industry, including hotels, tour agencies and restaurants, suffered major losses. “We are still recovering and business remains below the pre-protest levels,” says Juan Miller, spokesman for the Quito tourism board. “Even though life has returned to normal, many foreign travelers have changed their plans about visiting Ecuador and other South American countries.”

The most significant damage to public property occurred at two oil transport facilities in the western Amazon region and to public utility facilities near Ambato. “In addition, there was damage to government buildings and installations in several communities, particularly in Quito,” Artola said. “Damage to private property was much less but still required several millions of dollar to repairs.”

The ECB report said that, among cities, Quito was the most seriously affected by the protests. “Damages there amounted to tens of millions of dollars and repairs will continue in 2020,” the report said. It added that Cuenca, Guayaquil, Ambato and Riobamba also suffered property damage but only to small areas of those cities.

Artola says the impact of lossees cost a total of .13 to the national GDP in 2019.

8 thoughts on “October protests cost the country more than a billion dollars but final tally is in doubt

  1. What a shame. Instead of saving perhaps millions by reducing fuel subsidies, the country loses billions in damages caused by the protesters. On top of that the cops/military get blamed for human rights violations while trying to control the misbehavior.
    Of course the govt. is partially to blame. It could have easily reduced the gas subsidy for private vehicles and kept it for public transportation and commerce. It’s mostly the upper middle class who drive their own trucks and cars anyway. Who knows? Maybe if we had to pay more for gas it would encourage us to take the tranvia. 🙂

      1. Whatever – billions, millions, or tens of thousands. It’s still Ecuadorian money down the drain. Some of it might have even been lost income from poorer folks trying to make a living stopped by the road blocks.

        1. Imagine if Moreno had told the people what he was going to do instead of trying to force it down their throats. Then they could have simply chosen the candidate with the policies they preferred instead of having to take to the streets to stop him from imposing policies they never voted for.

          As I’ve indicated previously on numerous occasions, no country has ever voted for neoliberalism. It is always forced on a country against its democratic will and it ALWAYS results in massive civil unrest. The track record goes back nearly half a century. Moreno knew this was coming yet he chose to move forward with it anyway. Don’t blame the victims for trying to protect themselves.

  2. Ecuador’s primary economic policy challenge is to reduce the large
    fiscal deficit brought about by the corrupt Correa Administration in order to curb rising public debt but avoid stifling
    the ongoing economic recovery. The government took an important but
    politically difficult step in that direction in 2018 by cutting fuel
    subsidies. Another challenge will be to reduce the hugely bloated public
    sector, which has imposed a restrictive entrepreneurial environment on
    the struggling private sector. Pervasive corruption undermines the rule
    of law and weakens property rights.

    1. The fuel subsidy began in the 80s. Not sure how you can pin that on Correa.

      As for the government tackling the deficit, it has grown every year Moreno has been in office, that despite not building a single road, hospital or school.

      But hey, never let objective facts get in the way of your talking points, right?

  3. Many countries have had peaceful demonstrations sending powerful messages and have NOT resorted to property damage; shutting down a whole country and making people afraid to walk out their door. There was much more fear from the people on this last strike. Even the people in the smaller towns felt there was more danger and were afraid meanwhile warning their friends and families not to travel.

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