SHAFAQNA- Press TV: Ecuador’s people have struggled with security forces as they marched toward the country’s capital of Quito to protest over increasing fuel prices.
Riot police and military forces used tear gas to disperse the protesters on Monday after they blocked roads with burning tires and other barricades in the town of Machachi on the outskirts of Quito.
Chanting anti-government slogans, the protesters also attempted to force their way into the National Legislative Assembly in the capital.
Thousands of indigenous people are due to converge on Quito for a protest on Wednesday.
“More than 20,000 indigenous people will be arriving in Quito,” said Jaime Vargas, the leader of the umbrella indigenous organization CONAIE, which was key to driving then-president Jamil Mahuad from office during an economic crisis in 2000.
The protesters, some armed with sticks and whips, hail from southern Andean provinces and are heading to the capital aboard pick-up trucks and on foot.
‘Oil fields seized’
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s Ministry of Energy said in a statement on Monday that activities in three oil fields in the Amazon region had been suspended “due to the seizure of the facilities by groups of people outside the operation,” without identifying the groups responsible.
The seizures affected 12 percent of the country’s oil production, or 63,250 barrels of crude per day, according to the ministry statement.
The Latin American country has been rocked by days of mass demonstrations since increases of up to 120 percent in fuel prices came into force on October 3.
President Lenin Moreno scrapped fuel subsidies as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to obtain loans despite Ecuador’s high public debt.
The Ecuadorian government says the protests have so far left one civilian dead and 77 injured, the majority of them security forces. A total of 477 people have also been detained.
In a radio and television address on Sunday, Moreno blamed the deterioration in the country’s finances on his predecessor, Rafael Correa, also accusing him of an “attempted coup” and of “using some indigenous groups, taking advantage of their mobilization to plunder and destroy.”
The Ecuadorian president called for dialog with the indigenous community to alleviate their grievances.
“I am committed to a dialog with you, my indigenous brothers, with whom we share so many priorities,” Moreno said in his address. “Let’s talk about how to use our national resources to help those in the greatest need.”
But his plea was met with harsh opposition from Vargas, the indigenous leader.
“We are sick of so much dialog… There have been thousands of calls, thousands and thousands of calls, and until this point, we have not brought out our response,” he said.
Moreno declared a state of emergency in indigenous areas on Thursday, allowing the government to restrict movement and to use the armed forces for maintaining order as well as censoring the press.