The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, declared a “curfew” and “militarization” in the country’s capital Quito on Saturday to help security forces quell ongoing protests sparked by austerity measures.
The order came into effect from 3 p.m. (8 p.m. GMT) and would “facilitate the work of public forces against intolerable outbreaks of violence,” Moreno said on Twitter.
“We’re going to restore order in all of Ecuador,” Moreno said. “We’re starting with the curfew in Quito.”
Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian Interior Minister, Maria Paula Romo, asked citizens to “go to their homes,” before adding, “this measure will be valid until further notice.”
The new security measures came as access roads to Quito’s airport were blockaded and TV channel Teleamazonas showed images of its own facilities in flames, as well as stones being thrown at office windows, though there were no reports of any employees being hurt.
Over a week of violent clashes
The announcement of the curfew came within 30 minutes of its implementation, meaning protesters, many of whom had traveled to the city from other provinces, did not return home.
As a result, violence continued in Quito even after indigenous leaders, who had instigated the protests over fuel price increases, changed tack and confirmed they had accepted a proposal for talks with President Moreno in order to find a solution.
Ecuador’s indigenous people’s federation, CONAIE, welcomed a government initiative to settle the impasse, but reiterated that it wants Moreno to first restore the fuel subsidies he had previously taken away as part of austerity.
In a statement, CONAIE leader Jaime Vargas said Moreno’s call for discussions was a “positive” step but the federation stopped short of calling off the protests altogether.
“There’s no real dialogue without guarantees for the safety of indigenous leaders,” CONAIE said.
“We’ll carry out approaches to try to repeal the decree,” the statement added, “but we will hold protest actions nationally..exhorting the government to provide necessary guarantees.”
More than a week of protests in the Ecuadorian capital have already resulted in five deaths and nearly 2,000 wounded or detained.