Ecuador’s president met a small group of Indigenous leaders Friday for talks seeking to end countrywide fuel price protests that surrounded the capital Quito with road blockades for a fifth day.
As the talks were under way at the presidential palace, black smoke from burning tires rose from a road to the Quito international airport, which operated as usual despite the demonstrations.
Indigenous people, who make up over a million of Ecuador’s 17.7 million inhabitants, embarked on an open-ended anti-government protest Monday that has since been joined by students, workers and other discontented groups.
Oil producer Ecuador has been hit by rising inflation, unemployment and poverty exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Without dialogue there is no way out,” Orlando Tipan, leader of the Unoric Indigenous group, said after talks with President Guillermo Lasso, a rightwing ex-banker who took office a year ago.
He did not say what, if anything, the talks had achieved.
“We don’t want bloodshed, more vandalism, more violence. Ecuador is a country of peace,” added Unoric secretary Cesar Perez.
The powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), which called the protests, has said it would maintain the blockades until the government meets a list of 10 demands.
Fuel prices in Ecuador have risen sharply since 2020, almost doubling for diesel from $1 to $1.90 per gallon (3.8 liters) and rising from $1.75 to $2.55 for petrol.