Following two days of street protests in Quito, the government and protesting groups agreed to meet Sunday afternoon in an attempt to end 10 days of often violent confrontations. The talks will be mediated by officials from the United Nations and the Catholic church beginning at 3 p.m..
The announcement of negotiations follows an about-face by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), which on Saturday said it would not sit down with the government until gasoline and diesel subsidies were restored. Conaie said it decided to drop pre-talk conditions after polling its membership.
Although there has been no official confirmation, several social media posts report that President Lenin Moreno is willing to roll back, either partially or completely, his October 3 order to eliminate fuel subsidies. At least three indigenous leaders, including Salvador Quishpe, say the president is prepared to make “significant concessions to restore peace.” Conaie president Jaime Vargas says he cannot confirm the claim.
Saturday saw violent confrontations is several locations in Quito as some of the estimated 40,000 indigenous and campesino demonstrators clashed with police. The largest confrontations occurred near the National Assembly building and at the Agora Cultural Center. Spokespersons for Conaie and the interior ministry said there were dozens of injuries. most of them the result of victims being hit by rocks and tear gas canisters. The interior ministry reports that at least five people have been killed since protests began October 5.
In a televised press conference Saturday afternoon, Moreno announced a 3 p.m. curfew for the Quito metro area. “Above all, I am committed to restoring order to the country and I have requested thatt the Joint Command of the Armed Forces to take the measures and necessary to achieve that objective.”
Other cities, including Cuenca, remain under 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew orders but the National Police say the curfews only apply within 300 meters of government buildings and installations.