One of the greatest unrests in present is taking place in Ecuador, whose population has even left Hong Kong far behind in anti-government protests, affecting the economy. The South American country, which was earlier considered to be the safest in terms of tourist travel is now loaded with life-endangering threats even for its own citizens.
The Ecuador protests broke out on October 3, when the government increased the fuel prices up to 120 percent, ending the existing subsidies. Since then, thousands of people have gathered together to participate in the anti-government protests. Truck and taxi drivers started blocking highways around the country, while demonstrators sabotaged oil installations and ransacked government offices and businesses.
The protestors were further joined by indigenous groups, students, famers, including supporters of Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, marching on a square in Quito’s historic center near the government headquarters. They damaged Ecuador’s congressional building and violently entered the comptroller general’s office across the street.
Rioters also attacked a major dairy and dozens of rose plantations. They burned police and military vehicles as security forces struggled to contain the violence while the government declared a state of emergency.
The Ecuador protests are another example of the citizens’ aggression against the government’s unfair policies. The rising fuel costs were of a major concern to the protestors in the country that have been undoubtedly and highly vulnerable to poverty. Moreover, the rural poverty is comparatively severe than urban poverty in Ecuador.
The fuel costs the government about $1.4 billion per year, which is about 5 percent of the budget. An agreement with IMF states that the Ecuadorian government needs to improve public finances. But then again the increment in fuel costs and bus fares at a time when the country’s oil export, which is the major source of income has not yet fully recovered from 2016 recession, has brought huge criticism against the government’s rule.
The Ecuador government has alleged the supporters of former president for the unrests, accusing them of attempting to overthrow the present government. Though Correa has denied any involvement in Ecuador protests, the critics relate it with the past where his supporters were always critical of President Lenin Moreno, speculating that the allegations could be true to some extent.
Apart from justifying the allegations, what has been clearly apparent in many countries is the fact that the rise in fuel subsidies has reportedly provoked the citizens to the streets, protesting against the government. Earlier this year, a similar unrest due to the government’s act of rising fuel price was witnessed in Zimbabwe, where the protests took a deadly turn, leading to hundreds of arrests and death of 12.
Following the threats surrounding the Ecuador protests, the government temporarily fled the capital Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil. This is because Quito was in a mountain valley 2,800 meters above sea level and its vulnerability to access few roads could result in escalated tensions if the protestors blocked the area.
The irony of the entire situation is that on one side the protestors are demanding the Ecuadorian government to reinstate fuel subsidies that were rescinded after $4.2 billion in loan were agreed with the IMF, while on the other hand they are completely neglecting the economic losses resulting from operations halted due to the Ecuador protests.