Protests in Ecuador
2019 Ecuadorian protests 9th October - Photo courtesy of Todo Noticias via Wikicommons
by Robass Zia
A wave of protests has left the Ecuadorian capital Quito ravaged. Demonstrators, frustrated by the rising fuel costs, incapacitated several oil installations and deliberately crippled government offices and officially held businesses.
The protests were triggered after the government ended the subsidy on diesel and gasoline on the 3rd of October, the lifeblood of the transportation industry that provides a significant share of the jobs in the country. The majority of demonstrators were truck and taxi drivers, joined by indigenous groups and students. The subsidy was ended as a consequence of its strain on the economy, and a deal with the IMF — at $1.4 billion per year, it costed nearly 5% of the annual budget. This figure was for Lenín Monero to reduce significantly as part of an austerity plan mandated by the IMF.
In line with its Latin American neighbours, Ecuador is dependent on commodity prices — any fluctuations in oil and gas prices have a larger than life impact on the country and its economy. This has had a significant effect on the president's popularity. However, the president himself, Lenín Moreno, blames the former head of state Rafael Correa for the current dire state of affairs. Moreno maintains that it was Correa, whose populist policies and practices left the country exceeding the legal 40% of GDP limit on debt. Correa's emboldened public spending, including increased public sector wages and misguided public projects, led to the need for Moreno to secure a $10.2 billion loan from the IMF, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, Moreno claims.
The protests have caused the government to leave Quito for the coastal city of Guayaquil. This, the government maintains, is in an attempt to de-escalate the crisis in the former capital city.