Several thousand people participated in nationwide protests and a general strike on Wednesday, October 9, to demand President Lenin Moreno either resign or reinstate fuel subsidies that were rescinded on Thursday, October 3. At least 6000 indigenous activists converged in Quito, joining labor unions, students, and other activists groups in protests - including around the now-empty government headquarters. Police have erected barricades on the surrounding roads, and used tear gas to disperse protesters that were reportedly throwing stones and clubs at police officers and at a riot control vehicle. Several thousand activists also protested in Guayaquil on Wednesday, barricading roads and marching throughout the city. Security forces have arrested approximately 570 protesters as of Wednesday. Local media outlets report that at least two people have died during the demonstrations, and authorities have reported that at least 19 civilians and 43 police officers have sustained injuries.
A government-issued curfew remains in place around government buildings and other state installations, including airports and oil refineries, since Tuesday, October 8. During the curfew, movement is restricted between 20:00 and 05:00 (local time). The Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources of Ecuador said that the country's main oil pipeline ceased operations from 13:00 on Tuesday due to the occupation of several oil fields by protesters. The ministry also reported power disruptions on Tuesday following the protesters' occupation of Central Pucará power plant.
The government reportedly began talks with indigenous leaders on Wednesday. However, President Moreno has said that he will not reverse the austerity measures, and indigenous groups have said they will not stop demonstrating until fuel subsidies are reinstated.
Similar protests and strikes, and consequent business and transportation disruptions, are to be expected in major urban centers in Ecuador over the coming days. Further 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 Moreno's announcement 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. President Moreno moved his government from Quito to Guayaquil following violent protests that vandalized the assembly building in the capital on October 7.
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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