Protests against increased fuel prices have been occurring in Ecuador for days. Meanwhile, the state of emergency applies. And social unrest continues to mount up, with protesters on Tuesday able to storm parliament in the capital, Quito.
They penetrated into the plenary hall, but were then pushed back by police and soldiers, as television pictures showed. MEPs were not in parliament at the time. The congress had suspended its meetings because of the unrest in the country.
Hundreds of protesters and security forces fought violently in front of the parliament building. Masked and stick-armed protesters threw stones at the forces and the police used tear gas.
Fernando Vergara / AP
Tear gas against protesters: renewed riots in Quito
Protesters had already tried on Monday to storm the National Assembly. In addition, they occupied petroleum extraction plants. On Tuesday they threatened with a storming of the government palace in the capital.
Residents are not allowed to approach some buildings at night
Following recent incidents, Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno imposed a nocturnal curfew near major public buildings. From 1 pm to 5 am, it is forbidden to approach strategically important buildings until 1 November. Already on Monday Moreno had moved the headquarters of the government of Quito to the city of Guayaquil to avoid the protests. The state of emergency applies since last week, for 60 days.
The demonstrators blame Moreno for the rise in fuel prices as he signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in March. Ecuador thus secured IMF loans totaling $ 4.2 billion (just over € 3.8 billion). In return, Moreno's government was forced to cut government subsidies for fuel. Since then, fuel prices have risen by as much as 123 percent.
Fernando Vergara / AP
Rage on the road: Fuel prices have increased by up to 123 percent
Recently, thousands of peasants and indigenous people moved to Quito to participate in the protests. For Wednesday, a major rally is planned. According to official figures, there have been one dead in the protests, more than 70 injured and around 570 arrests.
Allegations against Venezuelan President Maduro
Moreno was last ready to talk. He announced a "dialogue" with the indigenous peoples and funding for communities that are particularly affected by higher fuel prices. Interior Minister María Paula Romo said that the United Nations and the Catholic Church offered to mediate.
The governments of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, El Salvador and Guatemala supported Moreno as a legitimate representative of the constitutional order on Tuesday in a joint statement. They accused Venezuela's leader Nicolás Maduro of supporting the destabilization of democracies in the region. Moreno had also on Monday accused his predecessor Rafael Correa and Maduro to advance a coup against his government.
Correa, who has been living in Belgium since the transfer of the office, denied the charge via Twitter. Behind the wave of protests stood "no external factor", only the "bad economic management" of the government, which had betrayed the election program with which Moreno had come to power. The Ecuadorian ex-president (2007-2017) called for new elections.