Anti-government protests in Quito, Cuenca, and several other cities were mostly peaceful and smaller than expected, according to Ecuador’s national police.
In Cuenca, about 250 marchers made their way up Simon Bolivar Wednesday afternoon from Parque San Blas, flanked by police. In Parque Calderon, they heard a series of speeches as a police helicopter circled overhead. Protesters demanded to meet with President Rafael Correa who was in town to dedicate an athletic training center.
One of the few episodes of violence occurred in Cuenca, outside the athletic center, as about 100 protesters tried to push by police. There was rock-throwing and tire-burning before police moved in to clear the area.
Protesters in Quito numbered about 1,000 at Plaza Grande in the city’s historic district, calling their gathering a “Vigilia por la Democracia”. Riobamba, Machala and Guayaquil also saw demonstrations.
The protests were called indigenous, labor, university student, as well as other groups, demanding a public referendum on constitutional amendments, including one that would allow Correa to seek another term in office, as well as a change in rural water management rules, and an end to oil exploration and mining in indigenous areas. In Cuenca, some marchers carried signs protesting construction of the city’s new tram system.
In a statement from Cuenca last night, Correa said he was pleased that the protests were mostly peaceful.