Quito, Oct 14 (AFP/APP): Ecuador’s president and indigenous leaders reached an agreement Sunday to end nearly two weeks of violent protests against austerity measures adopted to obtain a multi-billion-dollar loan from the IMF.
The demonstrations have left seven people dead and were sparked by President Lenin Moreno scrapping fuel subsidies to obtain a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, a move that caused prices to double.
Moreno met with Jaime Vargas, the head of the indigenous umbrella grouping CONAIE, for four hours of talks in the capital Quito broadcast live on state television.
“With this agreement, the mobilizations… across Ecuador are terminated and we commit ourselves to restoring peace in the country,” said a joint statement, adding the government had withdrawn an order that removed fuel subsidies.
Thousands flooded into the streets of Quito shortly after the announcement, waving the national flag, honking horns and setting off fireworks in celebration.
The statement was read by an official from the United Nations, which mediated the talks along with the Catholic Church.
“The measures applied in all our territories are lifted,” confirmed Vargas, wearing face paint and a head wreath of feathers.
Moreno had declared a curfew and placed Quito under military control to quell the unrest.
On Sunday, violent clashes continued before the talks began as police fought to disperse protesters who tried to put up a barricade of debris from Saturday’s unrest.
“Indigenous brothers, I have always treated you with respect and affection,” Moreno said as the talks opened. “It was never my intention to affect the poorest sectors.”
Ecuador’s indigenous groups make up a quarter of the country’s 17.3 million people.
Thousands from disadvantaged communities from across the Amazon and the Andes traveled to Quito to spearhead demands the subsidies be reinstated.
Authorities said 1,349 people had been injured and 1,152 detained in the demonstrations.
The violence forced Moreno to relocate his government to Ecuador’s second city, Guayaquil, and hit the oil industry hard with the energy ministry suspending more than two-thirds of its distribution of crude.
Protesters seized three oil facilities in the Amazon.