On December 21, hundreds of Ecuadorians took to the streets and blocked roads across the country to reject the economic measures announced by the government of president Lenin Moreno. Despite the repressive measures adopted by the government the night before, people turned up in huge numbers. According to the National Citizen Assembly (NCA), an umbrella organization bringing together several different social organizations of Ecuador, the announced measures will directly “hit the pockets of low income [groups] and middle classes and will only add to the misery of the impoverished in the country”.
On December 18, the national government of Ecuador announced a 20% increase in the price of extra premium petrol and diesel as part of the new economic measures. It also announced discontinuation of over 25,000 public services, mainly in the health, education and employment sectors, claiming that this would guarantee economic stability in the country. The social sectors are calling it the “Paquetazo Neoliberal” [Neoliberal Package]. The price of petrol and diesel will increase from 1.48 USD to 1.85 USD per gallon. “If the [price of] fuel goes up, everything goes up,” noted the NCA.
In the face of this, the NCA held a press conference and called for indefinite mobilizations throughout the country starting from December 20 until the government withdrew the increase in fuel prices and put an end to the neoliberal economic policies.
On December 20, citizens as well as the members of several social, transport, health, education, peasant and student organizations of Ecuador, gathered to protest at Arbolito park in Quito. The State forces took repressive action against the peaceful protesters.
“Rise in the price of fuels, budget cuts in the education and health sectors, mass layoffs of public servants, forgiveness of debts to the rich, violation of the state of law and justice, constitutional order, communication law reform to help dissemination of fake news, murders of journalists and citizens and corruption, and the campaign by the private media of misinformation” forced Ecuadorians to the streets, claimed the NCA.
According to the social sectors, the subservient Moreno government – which is proved by its stance in the cases of former president Rafael Correa and Australian journalist Julian Assange – has demonstrated its lack of seriousness in the exercise of power and its failure to fulfil the objectives for which it was elected.
Red de Maestros (a teachers’ network), the National Trade Union Organization of the Workers of Health Ministry (Osuntramsa), the Transport Workers’ Association (Asotraset), the Union of Retailers and Autonomous Workers of Ecuador (UCOMTAE), Bulla Zurda-Red Bosea Collective (a revolutionary and anti-imperialist political-cultural organization) and Social Movements of ALBA were among the main participants and convener organizations of the protests.