Indigenous protestor killed by Ecuadorian law enforcement
An Ecuadorian Indigenous was killed after being hit in the face with a tear gas bomb during the ninth day of demonstrations calling for price cuts.
An Indigenous protester died Tuesday in clashes with law enforcement during the ninth day of demonstrations against the Ecuadorian government, which the military described as a "grave threat".
The man, a member of the Quichua Indigenous group, was participating in a roadblock in the Amazon town of Puyo, during which "this person was hit in the face, apparently with a tear gas bomb," lawyer Lina Maria Espinosa of the Alliance for Human Rights organization told AFP.
Since June 13, multiple roads have been barricaded nationwide in demonstrations over fuel prices called by the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie).
Dozens of people - police and civilians - have been injured in clashes.
The death of the protester, identified as Byron Guatatoca, 40, came after a young man died overnight when he fell into a ravine "trying to flee from the military" in a protest on the outskirts of Quito, indicated Guillermo Churuchumbi, the Indigenous mayor of Cayambe municipality.
The incident prompted the prosecutor's office to open an investigation into possible homicide.
Lasso claims "ready for dialogue"
Conaie called the demonstrations as Ecuadorans increasingly struggle to make ends meet.
Indigenous people comprise more than a million of Ecuador's 17.7 million inhabitants and wield much political clout, but are disproportionately affected by rising inflation, unemployment, and poverty exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso claimed on Twitter that he was ready to participate in "a frank and respectful dialogue process with Conaie and other civil organizations."
"It is our duty to reach consensus for the good of the country," he said.
Dozens have been arrested
Fuel prices have risen sharply in Ecuador since 2020, almost doubling for diesel from $1 to $1.90 per gallon and rising from $1.75 to $2.55 for gasoline.
Conaie is demanding a price cut to $1.50 a gallon for diesel and $2.10 for gasoline. The group is also calling for jobs and food price controls.
The movement has since been joined by students, workers and other Ecuadorans feeling the economic pinch.
Dozens have been arrested, according to human rights observers.
Lasso on Monday extended a state of emergency to cover six of the country's 24 provinces, with a nighttime curfew in Quito.
Ecuador's parliament voted Monday in favor of a resolution urging the government to conduct a "serious, clear and honest" dialogue with protesters, mediated by the United Nations, the Red Cross, universities, and the highly influential Catholic Church.