QUITO ( Associated Press) – One day after the dialogue tables between the Ecuadorian government and the indigenous movement were set up, the leader of these organizations asked President Guillermo Lasso to prove the allegations of alleged drug trafficking financing the demonstrations that recently paralyzed the country.
Between June 13 and 30, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, the largest of its kind, led a violent protest demanding a reduction in fuel prices, which the government has already reduced from $2.55 a gallon to $2.40, a budget greater for health and education and the setting of prices of agricultural products.
“Tell the national government to stop being irresponsible, to prove what it is accusing,” Leonidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), said on Tuesday, alluding to statements by Lasso, who previous states that the protests “would have cost 15 million (dollars) and the third actor is drug trafficking”. This is the first reaction of the indigenous leadership after the statements made public by the officials.
Iza, speaking to a local radio station, also denied that her organizations have a violent confrontation group and stated that “they also intend to distort the struggle, the community guards who have been there all their lives, as if it were a military political body.”
“What was won in the streets, in the fight, is intended to harm with false accusations… generating defamation”, scolded the leader, who, despite the tension that had set in, confirmed that he will attend the installation of the dialogue scheduled for this Wednesday and in the which the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference will participate as guarantor. He added that “linked to the democratic spirit” all possibilities for dialogue at the tables will be exhausted, but he did not rule out the desire to return to the streets.
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo, consulted on the matter during a press conference, responded on Tuesday that “it has been put into public debate how the marches can be financed and who is behind this funding”. He mentioned that during the mobilizations there were roads in the coastal zone that remained open, so “there is the possibility of mobilizing illegal goods”, while the police carry out other activities. He did not offer evidence or give further details.
“This form of distraction is a mechanism that organized crime takes advantage of,” said the minister. He also stated that the alleged influence of these illegal groups in “some autonomous governments” must be investigated and added that nine tons of drugs were seized during the mobilizations, which must be investigated.
The statements of both parties tension the atmosphere on the eve of the installation of the dialogues. Political analyst and editorialist Hernán Pérez Loose was “skeptical” that “it will prosper by the way they came to the table”, however, he said that “there must be an effort on both sides to reach a consensual solution to the crisis” and prevent the June scenario from being replicated.
In dialogue with the Associated Press, the expert warned that there will be things they cannot agree on, but it will be necessary to continue negotiating in the long term. “We shouldn’t have too many expectations that important results will emerge and be implemented immediately, but it is an exercise that must be done,” he said. He defended that the government present a social policy “based on what the fiscal box and its government plan can provide” and move forward.
The installation of some conversation tables, with a thematic agenda of ten points that will be discussed for 90 days, was part of the agreement reached by the government and indigenous organizations to end the protests that left five dead and hundreds injured, as well as blockades in highways and roads that caused shortages in the country.
The technical tables will have facilitators and university delegates to facilitate the debate on fuel allocation, debt forgiveness of public and private banks, productive development, labor rights, price control, collective rights and others.