National Police used barricades and tear gas Sunday in an attempt to stop thousands of protesters marching on Quito but were eventually forced to withdraw. The march on the capital began in the indigenous communities of Chimborazo and Cotopaxi Provinces Saturday and crossed into Pichincha Province Sunday morning despite the government’s emergency declaration banning large public gatherings.
Marchers spent Sunday night in Cutuglagua and plan to continue the march Monday to Quito.
“The declaration of the emergency is illegal and we will ignore it,” strike leader Leonidas Iva said Sunday. “The march will continue and the strike will continue until our demands are met.”
The emergency declaration, issued Friday night by President Guillermo Lasso for Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Imbabura Provinces, was also ignored in Quito and Imbabura Saturday and Sunday, although police reported a reduction of protest activity in Quito over the weekend.
In Otavalo and other Imbabura communities, army troops attempting to dismantle road blocks were surrounded by crowds of protesters and forced to retreat.
Iza escapes gunshot to his car, condemns violence and vandalism
Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) President Leonidas Iza, leader of the indigenous strike, escaped an apparent assassination attempt Saturday, when a bullet stuck a the car he was sitting in.
According to Conaie, the vehicle was parked on a Latacunga street when bullet struck the front passenger window. Iza was sitting in the back seat and suffered no injuries. “This was an attack on Leonidas’s life and demonstrates the extreme violence our opponents will go to to stop the uprising of the people,” Conaie said in a press release.
In statements following the incident Saturday and on Sunday, Iza called for an end to violence “on both sides” of the protest. “Ours is a peaceful strike and we call on our followers to maintain this ideal,” he said. “We do not know who attacked me but we know it was a violent, murderous person. We must demonstrate our resolve by continue our mission without the use of force or violence.”
On Sunday, Iva also called on protesters to avoid to avoid vandalism and looting. “We must prove to the nation and the world that we are not vandals and thieves. We must keep our focus on completing our mission.”
Cuenca and the southern Andes remain calm
Although dozens of roadblocks remain in place in Cañar, Azuay and Loja Provinces, the region saw fewer protests and no violence over the weekend.
Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios welcomed several convoys of trucks bringing LP gas, food and other supplies to the city Saturday and Sunday. The convoys were led by army troops who took down roadblocks on the highways. The convoys traveled the Cuenca-Pasaje-Machala and Zhud-Cochancay-Guayaquil highways and police say there was no violence when blockages were dismantled.
Other supplies arrived in Cuenca by air as emergency Latam and air force flights landed at the Mariscal La Mar Airport.
Martial arts champ takes down woman beater
A Guayaquil martial arts champion pinned down a man she witnessed beating a woman Friday afternoon near the city’s malecón. She held the man on the sidewalk until police arrived.
Ruth Rotello, a martial arts teacher and competitor who teaches women and girls self-defense techniques, said she becomes “enraged” when she sees women abused. “If I see it in front of me, you can be sure I’ll go after the perpetrator. When I saw the man hit her in the face I put him on the pavement.”
In her Facebook account, Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri praised Rotello for her quick action. “This is the sort of response we need against criminals and violent people in our city. I salute Ruth for her quick action to protect the woman.”