Indigenous groups and trade unions across Ecuador came together in a national day of strikes, road blocks and protests on Thursday of last week.
The government is pursuing cuts, tax hikes, and an extension of mining and oil production in the rainforest to get out of a financial crisis.
President Rafael Correa came to office in 2007 after protests brought down his predecessor. He is seen as part of the last two decades’ “pink tide” of left wing Latin American governments.
He is bitterly opposed by the right—and accuses all those who oppose him of plotting a violent “coup” like those attempted by the opposition in Bolivia and Venezuela.
But he has taken steps to criminalise protest and clamp down on the media while seeking to develop Ecuador’s economy at the expense of its workers and its environment.
Even his more progressive reforms have been underwritten by an aggressive expansion of rainforest oil production.
As oil prices have fallen and the crisis in Europe and the US has seen Ecuadorian migrants send less money home, the government’s income has fallen. Yet it has to pay the bills for a range of roads and infrastructure projects.
The current wave of protests was kicked off by a hike in inheritance tax. Though the middle class were most enraged, the tax kicks in at under £23,000—affecting any worker who owns their home.
Indigenous organisations marched hundreds of kilometres into the capital Quito to protest. They say their movement will continue.