Cuenca High Life logo

Ecuador News

Transit strike is over but some groups say they will continue protests for other causes 

Ecuador’s transportation unions announced Friday night that they are ending their two-day work stoppage and that the country’s taxis and buses will return to service effective immediately.

Police block a street Friday in Cuenca’s historic district.

The president of the National Federation of Transport Cooperatives, Abel Gómez, said his members maintain their demand that the government rescind gasoline and diesel price increases but decided to end the strike for the good of the country. “We have left our claims with the government and feel we have successfully completed the first phase of our campaign,” he said.

The end of the strike, which resulted in road blockages throughout the country, came hours after Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner said that the government was open to raising fares on inter-provincial bus routes and that it would encourage municipalities to make similar adjustment for urban bus and taxi fares. “We understand that higher prices for fuel require a revision of the rates charged to the public,” he said.

Some organizations that supported the transit strike voiced anger that the transportation strike ended so soon and said they planned to continue their street protests. According to spokespersons for labor, education and indigenous rights groups, many of the those involved in the protests have ideological differences with the leaders of the transportation unions.

“We supported the transit strike because we opposed the fuel price increase and the Moreno government,” said Maya Gonzalez, an officer with a national education union. “We disagree with them in their support for the Correista movement, which most of us reject. People in the transportation unions like Gómez and [Virgilio] Hernández are in the pockets of the Correistas and our positions on most issues are different. Most of the anti-government movements will never support Correa positions or their candidates.”

Speaking on a Cuenca radio station, Gonzalez says that a new leftist movement that excludes supporters of both Correa and Moreno is being formed. “In most cases, Moreno is continuing the destructive work of Rafael Correa which we strongly oppose.”

It is unclear if Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil will see more demonstrations today. The number of protesters was down sharply on Friday from Thursday.

Transportation boss Gómez said he has ordered the end of roadblocks maintained by his members but said there are some blockages by indigenous and other groups in the sierra region that he has no control over.