25 percent more for gasoline and twice the price for diesel: In Ecuador, the protests against price increases for fuels have turned into violence. Now President Lenin Moreno wants to crack down on the protesters and has declared a state of emergency.
"To ensure the safety of the citizens and prevent chaos, I have ordered state of emergency across the country," Moreno said Thursday after a Cabinet meeting in Quito. The state of emergency is 60 days, said Interior Minister María Paula Romo. It is about maintaining traffic and ensuring the functioning of the economy.
On Tuesday Ecuador decided to cut subsidies on fuel. The move is part of structural reforms that the government has committed to implement in exchange for a $ 4.1 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.
Fiercest riots for years
After the measure was decided, in Ecuador, the most violent disturbances in years broke out. During the week, there were massive protests in the South American country. Truckers blocked many highways on Thursday, demonstrators clashed with police in some places, barricades were set on fire.
A departure from the removal of subsidies is out of the question for head of state Moreno. "Government subsidies have badly hurt the country because of the distortion of the economy," he said on television. Moreno also warned the protesters that he would not allow chaos to prevail in Ecuador. The days when vandalism and violence were common were over.
Dolores Ochoa / DPA
Police use tear gas: 60 days is now the state of emergency
After the imposition of the state of emergency, the president expects an early end to the riots. "The areas in which violence occurred are almost completely under control," Moreno said Thursday (local time) in the coastal city of Guayaquil. He praised the armed forces and police for the restoration of order.
The state of emergency gives the government extensive powers. Among other things, it allows the restriction of freedom of movement and the censorship of the media. Soldiers can be deployed in public places, ports, airports and borders can be closed. After 60 days, the government can extend the state of emergency by another 30 days.