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International round-up: Protests in Ecuador push back government

Gas prices have been reduced after action from below
Issue 2811
President Guillermo Lass of Ecuador

Ecuador’s president Guillermo Lass

Protesters in Ecuador in South America are showing that it’s possible to win concessions during a cost of living crisis. Furious protests that have raged since the middle of June have forced the state to cut the price of gas. The right wing president Guillermo Lasso announced last Sunday that the price of gasoline and diesel would be cut by 10 cents. 

Protests have been mainly led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie). Through a campaign of blocking roads, protesters severely interrupted food and fuel supplies across the country. Last Sunday the energy minister announced that oil production would be forced to stop within 48 hours if the road blocks and vandalism of fossil fuel infrastructure continued. 

Sonia Guamangate, an Indigenous woman from Samanga in the Cotopaxi region, joined tens of thousands of protesters marching to the capital of Quito from rural areas. “The prices have risen in the city, but what we get paid for our agricultural products remains the same” she said. Sometimes they are paying as little as $5 or $6 for 100 kilograms of potatoes.

“That’s a year’s work for some of us. They call us ignorant Indians. We are not ignorant. We supply the food for the city.”

There were also moves to impeach Lasso this week, with talks over whether he should be ousted set to continue. The protests are an impressive show, but the 10 percent drop in fuel prices falls short of the 30 to 35 cent reduction Conaie initially demanded. Protesters must stay on the streets and continue to block roads to hit back at the rising cost of food and fuel, as well as the government.

West ignores Afghanistan earthquake

Years of war, occupation and punishment by Western governments have left ordinary people in Afghanistan suffering after an earthquake last week. As many as 1,000 people died in the earthquake in the south-eastern Paktika province on Wednesday of last week, where a majority of homes were completely destroyed. People living in some of the province’s villages had still received no aid more than a week later.

The earthquake comes after Western governments cut off funding to the aid-dependent country and froze its assets after the Taliban overthrew their 20-year-long military occupation last year. The US government is withholding nearly £6 billion of Afghan reserves. But even before then, Afghan emergency response services were stretched under the corrupt, Western-backed government.

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