The national Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) said Thursday that it is not a sponsor of the national strike against high fuel prices but that local chapters are free to participate. The strike, called by the Indigenous and Peasant Movement of Cotopaxi (MICC) is scheduled for Friday, June 11.
“We support the movement to oppose the elimination of fuel subsidies and give our blessing to regional Conaie chapters to join the mobilization,” the national Conaie leadership said in a statement. The statement offered to participate in negotiations with the government of President Guillermo Lasso to find a solution to the “fuel price crisis.”
The strike was called by Leonidas Iza, president of MICC, who insists the protests will be peaceful. “Ours is an uprising not of disruption but of sending a powerful message to the government that the people of Ecuador will not tolerate rising fuel prices,” he said. “Like the people of Colombia, Peru and Chile, we will pursue a movement that seeks justice and sustainability for everyone.”
In addition to demanding the reinstitution of subsidies for diesel fuel and gasoline, Iza is demanding a rejection of loan requirements by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. “We must stop all interaction with the IMF and other international monetary agencies. Ecuadorians will not allow themselves to be under the thumb of the money changers.”
According to political observers, support for a large-scale strike remains uncertain due to in-fighting among indigenous organizations. Iza, who is a candidate for the presidency of Conaie, refused to support Yaku Perez in the presidential election, claiming Perez supported neo-liberal positions. He also rejects the recent agreement between the indigenous Pachakutik political party and the Lasso government.
“The mobilization will be a test of Iza’s power and of the far-left of the indigenous movement,” says political science professor Carlos Gonzalez of San Francisco University-Quito. “There is great amount of anger and discord among indigenous leaders and many of them reject Iza’s philosophy of Indo-American communism. At the same time, there is great anger at the government for eliminating fuel subsidies so the protest could attract a high level of support.”
He adds: “I don’t think the strike will reach the level of the October 2019 event but it will provide an important gauge of support for the radical wing of the indigenous movement.”