Ecuador's President Moves Government From Capital as Protests Over Austerity Measures Continue

Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno announced late Monday that he had temporarily moved government operations out of the capital of Quito following days of nationwide protests led by unions and Indigenous groups against austerity measures unveiled last week, including the end of decades-old fuel subsidies.

The gas and diesel subsidies, which cost the government close to $1.4 billion per year, were scrapped as part of Moreno’s effort to honor a $4.2 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) finalized earlier this year. Moreno’s moves to slash government spending have caused a spike in fuel prices and provoked six days of protests thus far, with a national strike planned for Wednesday.

Jaime Vargas, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations in Ecuador (CONAIE), an umbrella organization for local Indigenous groups, said Monday that 20,000 protesters marching toward Quito would be in the capital for the strike.

CONAIE has vowed that demonstrations will continue until Moreno withdraws the fuel subsidies cuts, but that doesn’t seem to have swayed the president’s position.