Poverty and inflation feed the new outbreak of Ecuador | International

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Politics has once again taken over the street protest in Ecuador. The cry of discomfort from the indigenous movement, sustained for two weeks with demonstrations and boycotts of the country’s productive fabric, has been silenced by the opposition’s attempt to remove President Guillermo Lasso. The political maneuver will only prosper if the legislators of the UNES bench, led by former president Rafael Correa from a distance, garner enough votes in the Assembly. But it has pushed into the background the economic and social emergencies that caused the country’s second great social explosion in three years. The improvement of life in the poorest areas now depends on an attempt at dialogue stunned by the noise of the power struggle.

The Government has its president pending his own motion of censure and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities sits at the negotiating table in a climate of mistrust and disbelief. Both parties have it in their power to put an end in the next few days to a mobilization that, in addition to giving voice to the peasant communities, has accentuated the polarization of society. The protesters are receiving harsh criticism from a majority of citizens who do not live in the same straits but who have seen their economic recovery efforts vanish due to road closures and the boycott of productive activities.

As in the current one, in the national strike of October 2019, the social demands raised before the then president Lenín Moreno were also diluted by the infiltration of violent people in the protests and by the cannibalization of dialogue by the political agenda of the opposition. It was once again Correa’s allies, who cannot return to Ecuador or participate in politics because of a firm conviction for bribery, who fueled criticism of the government’s management. The clamor in the streets was only silenced when Moreno relented. He returned state aid to gasoline for sale to the public, but then he resurrected that cut in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic with a formula of percentages that promised that the release of fuel prices would be progressive and would not be felt so much in the family pockets.

With the confinements due to coronavirus concluded and before a new government, that of the conservative Guillermo Lasso, the indigenous leaders once again requested an audience at the Carondelet Palace to transfer the difficulties of the rural areas of Ecuador. They live mainly from small-scale agriculture and the transport chain. After a year of talks, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities broke the rope and called on its bases to mobilize. Neither the Executive nor the indigenous political arm in the National Assembly -the Pachakutik bloc, which is the second with the most seats after those loyal to Correa- timely addressed their demands and, as a reaction, went out to block the country’s main highways two weeks with a 10 point order letter.

Lowering the price of gasoline and freezing it to compensate for the escalation of oil at the international level is the main demand. But not the only one related to the rising cost of living in the Latin American country. The indigenous organizations ask the Government to control the prices of food and raw materials used in crops. Any increase in costs in local agriculture, with which the entire country is fed, has an impact on the final price of food and on whether or not Ecuadorian families make it to the end of the month. As a gesture that the Executive is willing to listen to what the social emergencies are, Lasso announced during the most violent days of the national strike that he would subsidize the price of urea so that the fertilizer costs the same as before the Russian attack, due to the dependence of Latin America on this agricultural raw material from the Ukraine.

In the background to all the demands of the protesters is the high cost of living and the lack of solutions offered by President Guillermo Lasso in his first twelve months in office. This feeling of dissatisfaction is not unique to the outraged indigenous people, but to a generality of the population that has seen how citizen insecurity ate up their daily routines, as organized crime and gangs related to drug trafficking spread murders and assaults. violent everyday life of Ecuadorians.

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Ecuador has also not resolved the alarming problem of corruption in public health, which repeatedly dominates the news due to complaints from doctors and patients that hospitals do not have basic medicines and, in some cases, not even suture thread. The erosion of the credibility of the Government is a perception shared by the demonstrators and by those who criticize them. And it is the trump card that the opposition loyal to Rafael Correa has taken advantage of to deepen the national political crisis with an attempt to impeach President Lasso and to force the elections to be brought forward.

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