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Protests subside in Centro; Transit strike leaders arrested as military clears blocked roadways

Although protests in Cuenca’s historic district resumed late Friday morning as expected, the number of participants was down sharply from Thursday. A national police estimate put the number of active protesters at 500 as of late Friday afternoon, a drop from more than 2,000 at the same time Thursday.

Protesters face off Friday afternoon against a police cordon and an armored military truck on Calle Simon Bolivar.

Friday’s confrontations began at the intersection of Simon Bolivar and Presidente Borrero, at the police barricade between the provincial fiscalia and the Cuenca mayor’s office. By noon, police had pushed the protesters east on Bolivar to the intersection of Hermano Miguel.

By 4:30 p.m., some protesters regrouped at the intersection of Mariscal Sucre and Borrero while others gathered a block to the east, at Sucre and Hermano Miguel.

On several occasions throughout the day, when demonstrators threw rocks and other objects at police, an armored military vehicle with tear gas cannons and an L-RAD sound system charged, dispersing the crowd with gas and a painful high-pitched broadcast.

Meanwhile, following President Lenin Moreno’s national emergency declaration, military troops began to clear roads and highways around Cuenca as well as in the rest of the country. “We have opened several highways and will open more as the day goes on,” said Azuay Governor Xavier Martínez. “We are sending a clear signal to those who interfere with the right of Ecuadorians to peacefully reach their destinations. We have met resistance at several locations and those who interfere with our efforts will be arrested.”

At 4 p.m., police reported that they had made seven arrests of bus and taxi owners who failed to comply with military orders to remove vehicles. Martínez said clearing blocked roads in Cuenca and in Azuay Province could take two to three days.

Early Friday morning, the national police had arrested two leaders of the transportation strike. Manolo Solíz, president of the Cuenca Chamber of Transportation, and Messías Vicuña, general secretary of the Choferes del Azuay Union, were taken into custody at about 4 a.m. The pair was charged with interfering with public services.

More than 100 taxi and bus owners and drivers gathered outside the Azuay court building by mid-morning demanding that Solíz and Vicuña be released.

10 thoughts on “Protests subside in Centro; Transit strike leaders arrested as military clears blocked roadways

  1. Government should confiscate the abandoned taxi’s blocking the roads and auction them off to people who want to work and make $300/day (avg wage) as a taxi driver. Then the ex taxi drivers can go on to make basic wage after their brief prison stint.

    1. $300/day average wage? That would explain why all the taxi drivers in Ecuador are in the upper middle class.

  2. Remember when the dictator Correa arrested leaders of social groups for calling for protests?

    Yeah, me neither.

      1. Correa criticizes people on a sabatina, dictatorship.

        Moreno has them rounded up while they’re peacefully protesting, only to release them hours later when they publicly announce an end to the protests … Abel thinks that’s just fine.

        It’s intellectually dishonest people like you that have been holding back the human race since we came down from the trees.

      2. By the way, what was that link supposed to prove?

        We both know it meant nothing. You’re just hoping the people who give you likes are too lazy to bother to read it. You’re a fraud. Go change your screen name and reinvent yourself (again) because at this point nobody takes you seriously anymore.

  3. Without commenting on your suggestion, I don’t think taxi drivers are making $300 per day. Here in Cuenca, I suspect the average fare is $3 per trip. If that’s true, to even gross $300 per day would require 150 fares. If the driver works a 12 hour day, then that would be 12.5 fares per hour. There are 60 minutes to an hour which would allow a total time per fare of 4.8 minutes per fare. That doesn’t seem possible.

    I have been told by friends who drive taxis that the average monthly net is between $600 and $900 per month after expenses. That’s a good job since it’s twice the basic salary. But it’s not $300 per day. Again, to even gross $3000 per month would take 1000 fares and that’s not possible for one person working even a 12 hour shift. The math just doesn’t work.

    1. Though your math is a bit off ($3 per trip x 100…. not 150, = $300 gross), I do believe you are correct…. drivers don’t make $300 per day. BUT, a taxi can gross that amount, since many of the taxis are driven my multiple drivers during the day / week, many by family members taking “shifts”. The vehicle isn’t making money unless the wheels are turning.

  4. Having been through a similar situation before (on the other side of the world)…. taxi drivers (who need to work) will start adding an informal, random “surcharge” and will “negotiate” inflated fares in advance. Once that practice starts, even as regulators approve increased fares…. the drivers, knowing that it is possible, will make it a common practice.

  5. Some friends of mine, after being refused passage were roughed up by female protestors trying to grab or break their iphone. I have always wondered at protestors against a government action who figure they are advancing their cause by hurting fellow citizens.

    Basing a government budget on the price of oil, a fluctuating world commodity, is always unwise. Correa did it but felt it was worth the risk. But with the drop in world price, tt is now causing pain, like that experienced by Canada’s Alberta, or Venezuela, or the Arab producers and now Ecuador.

    Oil must not be only priced to world markets but properly taxed as well. Countries that do not do both inevitably end up in dodo…the size of which gets worse with every sold gallon under taxed or priced. The most frightening example is the USA…look at the national debt!! If a Canadian wants to buy a tank of Canadian petrol cheaply, they drive over the border.

    These protests just bring shame to Ecuador internationally.

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