Deal to cut fuel prices ends mass protests in Ecuador

The Ecuadorian government and indigenous leaders have reached an agreement to end more than two weeks of protests against the social and economic policies of President Guillermo Lasso, which have left at least eight people dead.
Protests organized by the indigenous organization CONAIE erupted in Ecuador on June 13, demonstrators’ demands included lowering fuel prices and limiting further expansion of the mining and oil industries.

The protests also led to food and medical shortages and severely impacted the oil industry, Ecuador’s main source of income, according to the energy ministry.

“We have achieved the highest value we all aspire to: peace in our country,” Mr. Lasso said in a Twitter post marking the end of the protests.
As part of the deal, the government agreed to cut fuel costs again, including the most commonly used gasoline and diesel, by another 5 cents, following a previous cut of 10 cents per gallon.
The Treasury Department said a 15-cent total price cut for both fuels would cost about $340 million (AU$493 million) a year.

The agreement could cancel the declaration of force majeure on Oriente crude oil exports by state-owned Petroecuador by July 7, a company spokesman said. The protests have led to a reduction in daily oil production by more than half compared to previous levels.

ECUADOR PROTESTS

Protests organized by the indigenous organization CONAIE erupted in Ecuador on June 13, demonstrators’ demands included lowering fuel prices and limiting further expansion of the mining and oil industries. Source: A MONKEY / EPA

The Energy Department said that after the withdrawal of demonstrators and a nine-day suspension of operations, the power plant is being recommissioned, another step towards the normalization of the energy industry.

Mr. Lasso also proposed to cancel the oil projects decree and reform a similar mining project decree. The reform will ensure the right of the communities to be consulted on such matters.
“We are going to keep fighting,” CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza said, even though the protests will be suspended. Some leaders disagreed on some points in the deal.

Mr. Lasso’s hostile relationship with the Ecuadorian National Assembly worsened during the protests. Opposition lawmakers pushed through a vote to resign him earlier this week, which he barely survived.

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The government and protest leaders have resumed negotiations brokered by the Catholic Church after they were suspended by Mr Lasso.
Protesters complained of police violence during demonstrations, and the government reported dozens of injured security forces and one soldier killed while attacking a convoy carrying fuel to Ecuador’s largest oil field.
Ecuadorian Energy Minister Xavier Vera said on Thursday that the country is expected to start rebuilding oil wells closed during the protests, with the goal of bringing most of them back to production within a month.

Ecuador’s pre-crisis oil production of about 500,000 bpd fell to 234,310 bpd as of Wednesday after more than 1,200 wells were closed.