Three ministers and a senior official resign in Ecuador after agreement to end indigenous protests

Three ministers and a senior official resign in Ecuador after agreement to end indigenous protests

The four senior Ecuadorian officials who resigned on July 5, 2022: Simón Cueva, Alejandro Rivadeneira, Ximena Garzón and Marcelo Cabrera.
The four senior Ecuadorian officials who resigned on July 5, 2022: Simón Cueva, Alejandro Rivadeneira, Ximena Garzón and Marcelo Cabrera.RR SS

The great political crisis that was about to bring down President Guillermo Lasso in Ecuador continues to have repercussions. In recent hours, three ministers and a senior official have resigned. Lasso, who signed a pact days ago to end indigenous protests that have lasted 18 days due to inflation and the government’s oil and mining program, is being forced to reform his cabinet at a critical time.

The heads of Health, Transport and Finance, holders of the key portfolios, have left and Lasso must now find replacements for them. They are joined by the Secretary for Higher Education. Although the protests have stopped over the agreement, the stability is precarious. The organizations that have taken to the streets have given themselves a 90-day deadline to check whether the promises are kept. The government promised to change several laws, but what finally brought peace to Ecuador was the official commitment that the public coffers would bear the cost of 15 cents per gallon of the three most consumed gasolines.

Resignations have a reason. The Education Secretary falls because face-to-face classes have not resumed after the pandemic, there is not enough budget or desks. Health is not better either: the professionals of the hospital complain that there are no medicines, no alcohol, no cotton, no suture thread. The workers themselves have called for the health system to be declared in a state of emergency. And finance, the one responsible for endowing the budgets, was totally ineffective. These are the three areas that gave Lasso the most headaches. It is no coincidence that the attempt to change course begins here.

Among Lasso’s promises, the repeal of Decree 95 which allowed to receive private investments in state oil activities and the reform of Decree 151 on mines stand out. In this regard, he responded to the request to always hold a popular consultation before starting mining activity in the surrounding towns and to restrict this type of resource exploitation in protected areas, ancestral territories and in considered spaces. like springs of water. In addition, he agreed to deactivate the last state of emergency declared in four neighboring provinces of Quito a day before the peace, precisely because of the lack of expectation that there was a few hours ago to reach an agreement .

Social conflict bogged down after a first attempt at dialogue and Ecuador remained paralyzed, tense and with increasingly evident social division after nearly three weeks of marches, roadblocks and clashes with forces of security. The government gave in on one of the most controversial points, that of gasoline, but not enough compared to what the aboriginal organizations were asking for. The protest aimed to subsidize 40 cents of a dollar for every gallon of diesel, extra, and ecopaís — gasoline for popular use and transportation — sold to the consumer. Lasso had only accepted by decree that the State assume 10 cents of what the consumer pays, allocating 266 million dollars a year to the subsidy.

Lasso’s challenge now is to stabilize the situation of his government, which took up the challenge on the streets. The president came to save a vote in the Assembly on his dismissal, when he has only been in office for a year. It suffered a social explosion that shocked the population, as has happened in other countries in the region, such as Colombia and Chile. The protests boycotted the productive activity of the country and shocked the population due to the virulence of the demonstrations in Quito and on its access roads. Goods and food could not pass from the Andean zone, where roadblocks were installed, to the coastal provinces. Ecuador was paralyzed. Lasso saved that match point, but the threat of discontent remains.

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