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Ecuador getting back to normal after 11 days of protests

ECUADOR PROTESTS (ADDS VIDEO) | 14 de octubre de 2019

Quito, Oct 14 (efe-epa).- Ecuador on Monday is getting back to normal after 11 days of sometimes violent protests that ended Sunday night when the Lenin Moreno government and indigenous leaders came to an agreement about the presidential decree that had eliminated fuel subsidies, the move that had originally sparked the demonstrations.

In the Ecuadorian capital, urban and metro transportation services suffered operational problems and on the weekend there was practically no way to get around the city by public transport.

Meanwhile, taxis plied the streets relatively normally and early Monday morning shopkeepers were opening up their stores and people were moving about and commuting to work virtually without hindrance.

The city seems to be getting back to normal after a complicated weekend that included a government curfew decree in Quito and its neighboring valleys in an attempt to ensure public safety and avoid chaos amid the increasing protests, vandalism and other criminal activities.

The standard public transportation remains at 0.35 US cents, 10 cents above its level at the start of the protests due to the increase in fuel prices.

After the agreement to review Decree 883, which eliminated the fuel subsidies, Quito city authorities asked the National Transit Agency to deliver an "immediate official statement" about the transport rate.

In other parts of the country, public transport was moving normally, although certain stations and terminals did not open first thing in the morning because of an absence of buses arriving from the provinces.

School classes remain suspended, however, with the Education Ministry announcing that the situation in each city would be evaluated to determine when classes would be resumed in a staggered manner throughout the national territory.

Quito airport operations resumed on Monday after more than 100 flights - both domestic and international - had been cancelled the day before.

On Monday, the Quito City Hall on its Twitter account called on the public to help clean up the capital, saying: "We want our city to be pretty, clean and we need you, everyone. We Quito residents are in solidarity on this and we'll see a great Quito once again."

In response to the city government's call, and on their own, thousands of people were participating in clean-up activities to remove evidence of the demonstrations, including trash, bonfire debris, paving stones and downed tree branches.

In El Arbolito park, considered to be Ground Zero for the protests in the capital, people were removing all sorts of debris, while authorities were evaluating the damage left by the protests all over the city.

Meanwhile, members of the public were asking on the social networks who would bear the costs of the damage from the protests, which left certain areas - such as the vicinity of the National Assembly and the Comptroller's Office, which was partially burned - looking like war zones.

On Sunday, the Attorney General's Office on Twitter said that although it had requested "preventive incarceration for terrorism for the 27 people arrested in the (attack on the) Comptroller's Office," a judge ruled that 14 of them would continue to be held but the other 13 would be released and have to present themselves two times a week before judicial authorities until their cases are resolved.


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Ecuadorian opposition official arrested despite pact to end protests

Quito, Oct 14 (efe-epa).- The opposition governor of Pichincha province was arrested Monday, the Ecuadorian Attorney General's Office said, without offering any reason for the detention that came hours after the announcement of an accord between the government and indigenous groups ending protests over austerity measures.

The AG Office said on Twitter that Paola Pabon and two other people were taken into custody.

"In the searches, agents confiscated indications such as technological equipment, telephones, substances subject to oversight and documentation," prosecutors said.

Located in north-central Ecuador, Pichincha province includes Quito.

Pabon is a member of the Citizen Revolution party, aligned with former President Rafael Correa, who has been living in his wife's native Belgium since stepping down in 2017 after a decade in power.

Citizen Revolution arose after Correa's successor, Lenin Moreno, drove his predecessor's supporters and allies out of the governing Alianza Pais party.

"Today they entered my home in the early morning hours and broke down my door while I slept. They arrested me without evidence. In a democracy, to be part of the opposition cannot be a crime. It is not a democracy when political opponents are persecuted this way," Pabon wrote on Twitter.

A video circulating on social media shows police taking a visibly angry Pabon into custody.

"This is the repression of the Moreno government. This is the famous rule of law. This is the peace they propose for Ecuador," she is heard to say.

"This historic movement of October 2019 is a citizens' movement, it's a social movement," Pabon said, referring to the 11 days of protests that followed the Moreno administration's Oct. 3 enactment of the sweeping austerity package known as Decree 883.

The most controversial aspect of the plan was the end of fuel subsidies, which spurred a 123 percent increase in the price of diesel, but the government also slashed public employees' pay by 20 percent and took steps toward the privatization of pensions.

Though many sectors took part in the protests, the impetus for the mobilization came from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie).

Moreno and Conaie leader Jaime Vargas reached agreement Sunday on an end to the protests in exchange for the abrogation of Decree 883.

The president responded to the protests by declaring a state of emergency and even abandoned Quito for several days, moving his administration to the coastal city of Guayaquil, Ecuador's economic hub.

The president said that the unrest was being orchestrated by allies of Correa, Moreno's one-time political mentor.

After serving for several years as Correa's vice president, Moreno won election on a promise to maintain the center-left policies of the Alianza Pais party.

Instead, he has moved to reverse virtually all of Correa's initiatives and programs.

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