National workers union and indigenous organization plan nationwide protests
Ecuador’s Workers Unity Front (FUT) and the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) take to the streets of major cities today to protest economic measures announced recently by the government. Many of the measures were contained in the law of economic development passed earlier this month by the National Assembly.
According to José Villavicencio, president of FUT, today’s mobilizations are the first in series of protests that will intensify in coming weeks. “We object to the new right-wing agenda that hurts workers,” he said. “We fear a new wave of privatization that will take public control away from the people and put it in the hands of capitalists.”
Conaie leaders Manuel Castillo and Apawki Castro say they agree with FUT but are also concerned about the increase in gasoline prices. “We fear that this is the beginning of the end for subsidies and we will take to the streets to oppose it.”
Cuenca taxi drivers say it’s time for a fare hike
Cuenca’s 2,200 taxi drivers are pushing for a new fare schedule. According to Bolivar Sucuzhañay, president of the taxi owners’ union, the increase in the price of high-test gasoline has made a fare increase an urgent matter. “Sixty percent of our drivers use super and they will experience a major increase in operating expenses as the new price takes effect,” he said. “We need immediate action on this.”
Even without the gasoline price hike, announced two weeks ago by President Lenin Moreno, Sucuzhañay said it is time for a fare increase. The current minimum daytime fare of $1.39 and nighttime fare of $1.67 were set in 2014 by the municipal council with a provision that they be reviewed every two years. “It’s time for the review and time for an increase,” he said.
Otavalo student objects to U.S. university rule to cut his hair
Otavalo native Michael Williamson is asking Brigham Young University to reconsider a rule requiring all males students to wear their hair short. Williamson and his family are arguing that men wearing their hair long and braided is a tradition of Otavaleño culture. Williamson, whose father is North American and mother is Ecuadorian, received a scholarship to attend the U.S. university operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Williamson’s family points out that, for Otavaleños, wearing their hair short is form of punishment. “We are asking that the university respect our heritage in the case of Michael,” says Ria Williamson, Michael’s mother. Discussions with Brigham Young officials are continuing, she says.