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The Ecuadorian President accuses indigenous demonstrators of coup attempts

#Ecuadorian #President #accuses #indigenous #demonstrators #coup #attempts

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said Friday tribal peoples, who have been staging sometimes violent protests over the past 12 days, are trying to overthrow him.

Shortly after he spoke, thousands of protesters throwing rocks and firing fireworks again clashed with police near the Congress building in Quito. Police and soldiers fought them off with tear gas.

“The real intent of these violent people is to stage a coup,” Lasso said in a speech in which he again offered dialogue to end protests over gas prices and the cost of living.

The demonstrations have sparked clashes that have killed six and injured dozens.

An estimated 14,000 protesters are taking part in the mass demonstration of discontent across the country against mounting hardship in an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the anger is concentrated in the capital, Quito, where about 10,000 people, mostly from other parts of the country, are protesting.

Six of the country’s 24 provinces are under a state of emergency, and Quito is under a nighttime curfew.

The protesters are demanding cuts in already subsidized fuel prices, which have risen sharply in recent months, as well as jobs, food price controls and more public spending on health and education.

But the action was costly, with losses of about $50 million a day to the economy and production of fuel – Ecuador’s top export – cut in half, according to the Energy Department.

On Thursday, protesters won a limited concession from Lasso. He gave them access “for the sake of dialogue and peace” to a cultural center symbolic of the indigenous struggle that had been confiscated by the police.

Hours later, however, a group of protesters made their way to Congress, where police fired tear gas in response to a barrage of rocks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails.

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