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Ecuador indigenous leaders say gas price cut not enough, protests to continue

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A barricade stands between demonstrators and security forces as protests continue amid a stalemate between the government of President Guillermo Lasso and largely indigenous demonstrators who demand an end to emergency measures, in Quito, Ecuador, on June 26, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Ecuadorean indigenous organizations said on Monday a 10-cent per gallon cut to gasoline and diesel prices announced by President Guillermo Lasso was not enough to halt two weeks of protests which have hit the country's weakened economy and threatened its oil production.

The price reduction announced by Lasso late on Sunday is the latest concession to try to quell the sometimes-violent demonstrations demanding lower fuel and food prices, among other things.

At least seven people have died in connection with the marches, which began on June 13, and the country's oil output has been halved, with the energy ministry saying a production halt is possible by Tuesday because of delayed supplies. 

Lasso, whose adversarial relationship with the national assembly has worsened during the protests, has also withdrawn security measures and announced subsidized fertilizers and debt forgiveness.

The price reduction to $2.45 per gallon for gasoline extra and $1.80 per gallon for diesel was not enough, indigenous groups led by organization CONAIE said in a statement, though they added marches were bringing results.

“It's an insufficient decision, without guarantee and which does not alleviate the poverty faced by millions of families,” the groups said in a statement. “Our fight does not end, nor does the right to resistance, and protest remains in force.”

Lasso said on Twitter the measures he has announced, including the gas price cut, will cost some $600 million.

People in capital Quito awoke to some road blockades. Residents have complained of shortages of domestic gas and food. Other cities have also reported shortages of fuel and medical supplies for hospitals.

The public oil sector, private producers of flowers and dairy products, tourism and other businesses have lost about $500 million, the government has said.

CONAIE tallies five protester deaths, while the government says three civilians died during marches, two more were killed in accidents and two died in ambulances delayed by blockades.

Lawmakers are set to continue debate on Tuesday on an effort to remove Lasso from office, though it appears opposition groups do not have the necessary support for the measure to succeed.

(Source: Reuters)

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