Against the backdrop of anti-government posters denouncing the Ecuadorian government, Elm City residents on Friday protested a recent Ecuadorian economic agreement.
In the wake of new austerity measures announced by Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno, roughly two dozen protesters, including both Unidad Latina en Acción and members of Connecticut’s Ecuadorian community, assembled in front of the Ecuadorian Consulate General in downtown New Haven. Their discontent with an economic austerity package, deemed el paquetazo, set forth by the Moreno government, has contributed to their dissatisfaction with the state of corruption and ineptitude that they believe exists in Ecuador.
“We’re here at the fight in solidarity with what is happening in our country. We are here to denounce the political repression against our indigenous community by the government of (President) Lenín Moreno,” Luis Ramírez, an organizer for ULA, told those gathered on Church Street.
Moreno announced an elimination of public programs following a bailout deal reached with the International Monetary Fund. Most significantly, the elimination of a popular oil subsidy program that cuts oil prices for Ecuadorians has led to mass unrest. Many Ecuadorians have lamented that they will no longer be able to afford gas and that an increase in gas prices will also raise prices of goods across the board.
The country is now entering its third week of anti-government protests, which have attracted substantial support from the state’s native tribes. Members of these tribes have traveled long distances to cities like Quito to voice their opposition with the list of expected austerity measures.
Early last week, Moreno and his cabinet fled the capital of Quito for the coastal city of Guayaquil. He currently counts the support of the military’s various branches, which have proven crucial in suppressing parts of the unrest.
On Church Street, protesters emphasized solidarity with these Indigenous communities, with signs boasting slogans such as “Indigenous resistance, the people fight back.”
“The repression (in Ecuador) has no name, the anxiety of our Indigenous communities has no name,” Ramírez said at the rally in Spanish, as translated by the News.
The protest focused most of its critique on the government of Lenin Moreno and the country’s center-right Social Christian Party, which has supported the proposed austerity measures.
“We don’t come as a political party but as Ecuadorians, as people who hurt from seeing our motherland bleed,” said Vincente Maldonado, who traveled from Bridgeport to attend the protest.
Protesters Carmen Lanche, a member of ULA, voiced her opposition expected cuts to health care and education, as well as the privatization of media that she said will come with the austerity measures. She accused Ecuador’s political elites of including self-serving debt relief provisions within the economic package.
“We’re not going to allow it,” she said. “They should get out.”
Behind them, the Ecuadorian consulate-general remained closed — a sign on its door announced its unusual Friday closing was due to a federal holiday. The Consulate did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Protesters attracted a few curious pedestrians and scattered honks from passings cars. About 40 minutes into the rally, organizers confronted a member of building security, who tore their taped signs off the One Church Street’s first-floor windows and demanded protesters clear the area. Protesters refused and continued rallying.
“There are a lot of Ecuadorians in Connecticut, and we need them to mobilize, we need solidarity. It is crucial right now,” John Lugo, ULA organizer, said as the rally came to a close.
Lugo said ULA will pay attention to developments in Ecuador before deciding its next steps.
On Sunday, leaders of umbrella Indigenous group, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, who have played a significant role in the national protests, announced their willingness to open talks with Moreno.
Moreno has been president since 2017.
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