It was in the north of the capital, very close to a university which is sheltering demonstrators, that some of the most violent clashes took place with the police, who used tear gas, cannon water, motorized vehicles and mounted police.
The police presence was strong in the area, where the House of Ecuadorian Culture (CCE) is also located, a cultural center traditionally serving as a meeting point for the natives, but invested by the police since this weekend.
In the Amazon locality of Puyo, south of Quito, a Quechua native died on Tuesday.
“There was a confrontation and this person was hit in the face, apparently by a tear gas canister,” lawyer Lina María Espinosa, from the Alliance of Human Rights Organizations, told AFP.
In the night from Monday to Tuesday, another young man had died after falling into a ravine during the demonstrations and the prosecutor’s office decided to open an investigation for suspected homicide.
The powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), which participated in the revolts that overthrew three presidents between 1997 and 2005 and led the violent demonstrations of 2019 (11 dead), has been organizing marches and barricades since June 13 to demand a lower fuel prices.
Thousands of indigenous people began a peaceful march towards central Quito from the south on Monday. Several hundred also arrived from the north in the capital of three million inhabitants.
In addition to the price of fuel, the demonstrators denounce the lack of jobs, the granting of mining concessions in the indigenous territories, the absence of control of the prices of agricultural products and a renegotiation of the debts of the peasants with the banks.
– “Conditions” for a dialogue –
“Democracy in Ecuador is in grave danger in the face of the concerted action of exalted people who prevent the free movement of the majority of Ecuadorians,” Defense Minister Luis Lara warned on Tuesday, surrounded by senior military officers.
The leader of Conaie, Leonidas Iza, on Tuesday evening submitted a possible dialogue with the authorities to several “conditions”, in particular “the de-escalation of repressive actions, the abrogation of the state of emergency and the demilitarization of the El Arbolito park ” in Quito, where the natives usually meet.
President Guillermo Lasso for his part announced the same day on Twitter that he accepted “a process of frank and respectful dialogue with Conaie and other civil organizations”.
On Monday, he had launched, with a video showing images of demonstrators engaging in violence in the street: “We have reached out, we have called for dialogue, but they do not want peace, they seek chaos, they want to oust the president”.
He then extended the state of emergency from three to six of the country’s 24 provinces.
In Parliament, MPs had approved a resolution on Monday evening demanding a government proposal for “serious, clear and honest” dialogue and calling for a round table including the UN, the Red Cross, universities and the Catholic Church to seek solutions. to the crisis.
Sixty-three police officers have been injured since the protests began, according to an official report, while a local human rights organization reported 79 arrests and 55 civilians injured.
Indigenous peoples make up at least one million of the 17.7 million Ecuadorians.
For almost a year, the price of a gallon of diesel has increased by 90% (to 1.90 dollars) and that of gasoline by 46% (to 2.55 dollars). Prices have been frozen since October, after previous protests, but Conaie is asking for a drop to $1.50 and $2.10 respectively.
Ecuador’s economy is losing around $50 million a day due to the protests, according to official figures. Oil production, the main export, fell by around 100,000 barrels a day, a drop of 21%, according to the director of the public company Petroecuador, Italo Cedeno.