Ecuadorean Transport Unions Suspend Protests Over Fuel Subsidies

Ecuadorean transport unions agreed Friday to suspend protests after two days of unrest in which demonstrators blocked roads across the country.

The announcement indicates that an agreement between the transport unions and the government was reached although details of any deal were not immediately announced.

The protests, which began Thursday, were carried out by public transportation drivers, students and workers who were angry over the government’s decision to scrap decades-old fuel subsidies.

Demonstrators blocked roads across the country with tires and branches, forcing many bus and taxi services to shutdown.

The government said Friday about 350 people had been detained for blocking traffic, interrupting public services or attacking police. Officials said the arrests took place mainly in the capital, Quito, and the coastal city of Guayaquil.

Residents walk along the Pan-American highway blocked by semi-trailer trucks during a nationwide strike that shut down taxi, bus and other services in response to a sudden rise in fuel prices, in Cangahua, Ecuador, Oct. 4, 2019.

Earlier Friday, President Lenin Moreno, who had declared a state of emergency over the strike, said he would not reverse himself on his decision to end fuel subsidies.

Moreno declared the state of emergency Thursday as the demonstrators took to the streets in Quito and other large cities.

The president said he had to declare the emergency, which curbed some civil rights, because the protests were meant to “damage and destabilize” his government.

American Airlines, Iberia, Air France and KLM rerouted flights during the protests, as demonstrators blocked routes into and out of the Quito airport.

Ending the fuel subsidy is part of a $2 billion government fiscal reform package that includes the loosening of labor protections, corporate tax breaks and other steps to stimulate the economy.

by via Voice of America - English