Ecuador’s president announces an end to negotiations with indigenous leader
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said on Tuesday his government will not return to negotiations with indigenous leader Leonidas Iza aimed at ending more than two weeks of protests linked to eight deaths, food and medicine shortages and a reduction in the oil production.
“We will not return to the dialogue with Leonidas Iza, who only defends his political interests and not those of his base. To our indigenous brothers – you deserve more than an opportunist for a leader,” said Lasso, who is trying to remove opposition lawmakers from his office, citing the fallout from the protests.
Largely indigenous protesters have been demonstrating since June 13 to protest high fuel and food prices and at least eight people have died in the marches, including a soldier killed early Tuesday morning.
Roadblocks related to the protests have led to shortages of food in supermarkets and medical supplies in hospitals. On Monday, Ecuador’s total oil production was 234,496 barrels per day (bpd), less than half of its production of about 520,000 bpd before the protests.
Lasso said the government has made significant concessions to protesters, including agreeing to cut gasoline prices, debt forgiveness and fertilizer subsidies. Iza said Monday that the price cut was not enough.
Lasso said his government is open to talks, but not with Iza.
The country cannot engage in dialogue with those holding it “hostage”, Lasso added. He offered his condolences to the family of the soldier, who died when a convoy carrying 17 diesel tankers from a refinery to the ITT oil field was attacked by a group of armed people.
“Only when there are legitimate representatives of all the peoples and ethnicities of Ecuador, who seek real solutions and are open to genuine and frank dialogue, will we return to the negotiating table,” Lasso said.
“Mr President, we never determined who can enter into dialogue and who cannot,” Iza said in response to Lasso, adding that he would remain at the site of the talks until government representatives arrive.
“What seems important to me at the moment is an attitude of peace, of dialogue, no more belligerent attitudes,” added Iza, who heads the indigenous organization CONAIE.
Mediators at the talks said the two sides were close to a deal.
Ecuador’s oil production fell by 1.8 million barrels during the protests, the Energy Ministry said on Tuesday, as blockades prevented the transport of supplies to oil blocks.
State oil company Petroecuador has recorded a reduction of 1.47 million barrels, while private producers have lost more than 385,000 barrels, the ministry said in a statement.
“In 15 days, the state has stopped receiving $166.4 million in the oil sector. So far, 1,199 wells have been closed, 85% of which belong to Petroecuador,” the statement said, adding that the SOTE pipeline was reopened on Monday. shut down due to low crude volumes and the private OCP pipeline was pumping at 20% of its capacity, some 92,000 barrels.
The ITT field — Ecuador’s largest — was functioning normally, producing more than 52,000 bpd on Monday, according to Petroecuador.
A company source, who declined to be named, said Petroecuador was looking into slowing exports, but production probably shouldn’t stop for a few more days.
Lasso’s hostile relationship with the National Assembly has deteriorated during the protests.
Lawmakers debated a bid to remove him from office on Tuesday afternoon, although it appears that opposition groups, some of whom are loyal to former President Rafael Correa, are missing the 92 of the 137 votes needed for the measure to pass.
“This is not a call to defend a person, nor a political effort, nor a government, it is a call to defend the country against this coup attempt. For the good of all Ecuadoreans, democracy must prevail,” he said. Lasso in a statement. a video calling on lawmakers to reject the effort.