The state-run Petroamazonas EP oil company announced on Monday, October 7, that it has suspended operations at three oil fields in the Orellana and Sucumbíos provinces (Amazon region) due to the occupation of the fields by protesters. The Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources of Ecuador said that the situation remains peaceful, but that the government has asked the military to increase security protection at the facilities. According to government officials, oil production is expected to be reduced until operations can resume.
At least 7000 indigenous protesters also arrived in Quito on Monday, in response to the government's recently imposed austerity measures. The protests, organized by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities in Ecuador (CONAIE), caused severe nationwide transportation disruptions, as demonstrators blocked roads with stones, tires, and burning branches. Additional security forces and tanks were deployed to guard the Carondelet Palace in Quito. CONAIE has stated that the protests would continue indefinitely in response to the government's slashing of fuel subsidies. Several labor unions, student, and indigenous groups have also called for a nationwide general strike on Wednesday, October 9.
Similar protests and strikes, and consequent business and transportation disruptions, are to be expected in major urban centers in Ecuador over the coming days. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Several civil society groups and unions began protesting and striking on October 3 in response to President Lenín Moreno announcing on October 1 that the government would eliminate nearly USD 1.3 billion in fuel subsidies to reduce the country's fiscal deficit. Prices of gasoline and diesel fuel are expected to increase significantly as a result of the measure, which came into effect on October 3. The Ecuadorian government has declared a two-month state of emergency and deployed military and police forces to reopen roads and restore order in protest-affected areas. Security forces have since arrested at least 477 people and used tear gas to disperse protesters.
Individuals in Ecuador are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations, anticipate a heightened security presence and associated transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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