QUITO, ECUADOR – Paralysing protests in Ecuador continued on Tuesday over a series of labour and tax reforms and President Lenin Moreno’s decision to scrap decades-old fuel subsidies.
Thousands of indigenous people who had been marching towards the capital, Quito, descended on the city on Tuesday. Protesters were reportedly able to briefly cross security lines into the National Assembly, before being moved out by police. Late on Tuesday, Moreno issued a decree that restricted movement from 8pm to 5am local time around government buildings.
Tuesday’s demonstrations came less than 24 hours after President Moreno moved his administration out of Quito following nearly a week of anti-austerity protests that paralysed public transportation and brought hundreds of arrests.
“We are rejecting the economic package implemented for the government of Moreno,” said Maria Boada, 56, who was at Monday’s protest representing the women’s rights collective, Women for Change. She spoke to Al Jazeera through a face mask doused in vinegar to help filter tear gas used by police on protesters.
“We are demanding that he lift the state of emergency and end the repression, and stop the labour reforms,” she said, referring to the state of emergency declared by Moreno last week.
Some protests have turned violent with police using tear gas and water cannon on demonstrators. According to officials at least 570 people had been arrested in the unrest.
Roads continue to be closed on Tuesday, disrupting travel plans and supply deliveries. Photos circulating on social media showed empty supermarket shelves in several major cities.
Reforms, subsidy cuts
The demonstrations erupted last week after the government announced it was cutting fuel subsidies, which had been in place for 40 years.
The government has been struggling with large foreign debt and a fiscal deficit. Moreno said the cuts to the fuel subsidies were a necessary part of the belt-tightening reforms the government has undertaken since accepting a $4.2bn IMF loan earlier this year.
Following the cuts, the price of diesel more than doubled and the price of petrol rose by nearly 30 percent.