Amid heated demonstrations and clashes with armor-clad riot police over new austerity measures, protesters stormed Ecuador’s parliament building – left empty after the government relocated – for a brief rally.
Scores of protesters could be seen inside the national assembly building in videos posted to social media on Tuesday, some waving flags at the chamber’s podium, with others chanting slogans against President Lenin Moreno, who has come under fire over a series of spending cuts and other austerity moves linked to an IMF loan deal signed in March.
Though police were able to keep most protesters away from the parliament with thick clouds of tear gas, several dozen managed to break their way past security and enter the chamber, which was empty after authorities evacuated government buildings in the capital city on Monday. They held a brief demonstration before pulling back, after which police regained control of the building.
A substantial police presence was seen in the areas surrounding the national assembly, where security forces clashed with demonstrators wielding stones, sticks and other improvised weapons. The police – some on horseback, motorbike, or in armored vehicles – responded with tear gas and billy clubs.
A larger gathering of several thousand met near the parliament building, defying Moreno’s national emergency decree, which banned public assembly and put restrictions on press freedoms. Many of the demonstrators come from poor and indigenous communities across Ecuador, where the spending cuts have taken the highest toll, particularly the elimination of fuel subsidies.
As people continue to stream into Quito to take part in the demonstrations, now in their sixth day, the protesters are gearing up for a general strike on Wednesday, hoping to compel the government to act on demands to reconsider the austerity measures. They had planned to confront the president and hold a dialogue at some point during the protests, but Moreno relocated the seat of government to Guayaquil and fled there late on Monday.
Public schools nationwide have been temporarily closed during the unrest, along with public transport in the capital city.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!