Published:  12:37 AM, 11 October 2019

Ecuador's Moreno seeks talks after protests

Ecuador's Moreno seeks talks after protests Demonstrators clash with riot police in Quito. The protestors are demanding the president reinstate fuel subsidies which were cut last week. -AFP

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno will Thursday try to resume dialogue with the indigenous community after a week of protests against fuel price hikes which have escalated into violent clashes and disrupted the country's oil output.

"Without a doubt, this is going to be solved very soon," an optimistic Moreno said in a video broadcast on state television following clashes Wednesday between protestors and security forces in Quito which left several injured.  Moreno moved the seat of government to the southwest port city of Guayaquil on Monday following violent protests in the capital of the small South American country.

He returned briefly to Quito Wednesday as thousands of people representing indigenous groups, farmers, students and labor unions marched in the city, with clashes erupting between protestors and police. The protesters are demanding that Moreno reinstate fuel subsidies that were rescinded last week after $4.2 billion in loans was agreed with the IMF. "I came to Quito to reach out and to announce that we already have good results as regards dialogue," Moreno said, before heading back to Guayaquil in the evening.

Contacts have been established between the government and the demonstrators, mediated by the United Nations and the Catholic Church. But despite the president's optimism, indigenous leader Salvador Quishpe said the "demonstration is ongoing, it has not ended."

And Jaime Vargas, one of the leaders of the powerful indigenous umbrella organization CONAIE, was reluctant to talk to a "government that has succumbed to pressure from the International Monetary Fund." Discussions with CONAIE leaders also took place in Guayaquil.

"There is dialogue with the brother indigenous peoples who unfortunately have needs," Moreno said of the groups which make up a quarter of the population of the country's 17.3 million people.

---AFP, Ecuador

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