Clashes erupt at Ecuador protests over fuel price hike | Eurasia Diary -

6 June, Saturday

Clashes erupt at Ecuador protests over fuel price hike

Riot police use tear gas to disperse marchers protesting soaring fuel prices, as oil fields seizure slashes production.

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Protesters clashed with Ecuadoran forces on Monday as they marched towards the capital, Quito, to demonstrate against soaring fuel prices, with the government announcing the occupation of oil facilities had slashed production by 12 percent, Aljazeera reports.

Riot police and the military used tear gas to try to disperse marchers in the town of Machachi on the outskirts of Quito after they blocked roads with burning tires and barricades ahead of a protest set for Wednesday.

"More than 20,000 indigenous people will be arriving in Quito," said Jaime Vargas, leader of the umbrella indigenous organisation, CONAIE.

In 2000, CONAIE was key to driving then-president Jamil Mahuad from office during another economic crisis.

Other protesters attempted to force their way into the national legislative assembly in the capital, and committed "acts of vandalism in the vicinity," the body said in a statement.

The clashes came as Ecuador's Ministry of Energy announced that activities in three oil fields in the Amazon region - one operated by private firm Petrobell and the others by state company Petroamazonas - had been suspended "due to the seizure of the facilities by groups of people outside the operation."

The seizures affected 12 percent of the country's oil production, or 63,250 barrels of crude a day, the ministry said in a statement that did not identify the groups responsible.

In a radio and television address, President Lenin Moreno accused his predecessor and ex-ally Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of an "attempted coup d'etat" and of "using some indigenous groups, taking advantage of their mobilisation to plunder and destroy."

He added that government business had temporarily moved to the port city of Guayaquil.

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