June 29, 2022

ECUADOR: Ecuador Promises Fuel Price Cuts After 17 Days Of Protests. President Offered To Cut Gasoline 10 Cent A Gallon. Protesters Reject Insult. President Halts Talks After Surviving Impeachment

WION published June 27, 2022: Ecuador: Fuel price cut lower than demands | Oil production at critical level. In a move to quell nearly two weeks of anti-government protests in Ecuador the government has announced to cut fuel prices by 10 cents a gallon. Fuel prices had sparked weeks of demonstrations in Ecuador.

BBC News, UK
written by Staff
Monday June 27, 2022

Ecuador's president has promised to lower fuel prices across the country after weeks of disruptive mass protests over the cost of living.

Protesters have blocked key roads and staged mass rallies demanding action on fuel and food prices - some of which have turned violent.

In response, Guillermo Lasso vowed to cut 10 cents a gallon from both petrol and diesel prices.

That is only a third as much as demonstrators had demanded.

Since 2020, the cost of diesel has almost doubled and petrol prices have risen dramatically in the oil-producing nation.

President Lasso also said that despite his move to lower fuel prices, any violent protesters would face consequences for their actions.

"Ecuadorians who seek dialogue will find a government with an outstretched hand," he said in a Sunday night address. "Those who seek chaos, violence and terrorism will find the full force of the law."

The move comes after an initial meting between the government and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), which began the demonstrations.

No deal was reached, but the two sides agreed to begin dialogue after a state of emergency was lifted at the request of Conaie, more than a week after President Lasso imposed it.

But the president is also facing political pressure amid the crisis. Over the weekend, the national parliament began a debate tabled by the opposition on removing him from office. It is set to conclude later this week.

The extent of the disruption caused by the mass demonstrations is significant.

The blocking of key roads has led to fears of food shortages in the capital, Quito, as agricultural workers outside of it campaign for fairer food prices.

Leonidas Iza, the leader of Conaie who was briefly arrested over the protests, asked his supporters to guarantee "corridors" into the capital over the weekend for essential supplies.

The weekend was broadly calm, as demonstrators took a break amid the political movements.

But concerns about supplies and the broad economic impacts remain.

On Sunday, the energy ministry issued a statement warning that oil production - a key export which the country's economy relies on - could come to an end within 48 hours if protests and roadblocks continued this week.

Production was at a "critical" point, it said, and could stop because of "vandalism, takeover of wells and closing of roads".

The country was hard-hit by the Covid pandemic and its economy is still recovering.

WION published June 28, 2022: Ecuador mired by protests for last two weeks. For two weeks now, protests have rocked Ecuador of a high cost of living and soaring fuel prices. On Monday, the indigenous protesters met the government in order to bring some resolution to the crisis. The meeting came after protesters rejected a fuel price cut as insufficient and vowed to continue demonstrations.

teleSUR tv published June 29, 2022: Ecuador: Representantes indígenas de todo el país mantienen paro nacional tras 17 días. En Ecuador, manifestantes indígenas de todo el país mantienen protestas en Quito para exigir respuesta a sus exigencias y piden respuesta del gobierno tras 17 días de paro nacional.

Bloomberg News
written by Stephan Kueffner
Wednesday June 29, 2022

Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso survived an impeachment vote late Tuesday after a hard-left opposition party failed to rally other smaller groups in congress to oust him as his government moved to make concessions to defuse the political crisis.

With only 80 of 137 lawmakers voting to remove Lasso, the impeachment attempt failed to clear the 92-vote hurdle needed to remove the president from office. Another 48 lawmakers rejected the motion, with nine abstaining after a session that lasted about 12 hours and included three voting attempts.

“We defended democracy and now we must recover peace,” Lasso said in a Twitter post after the final vote tally. “In spite of the coup attempts, today the country’s institutionality prevailed.”

Revolucion Ciudadana, the biggest bloc in the congress with 47 seats, was seeking to impeach the embattled former banker amid a“grave political crisis and internal commotion,” as stipulated in the nation’s constitution.

Ecuador’s 2035 notes extended declines Wednesday, and were quoted at 48.4 cents per dollar, the lowest since April, according to indicative pricing data collected by Bloomberg. The country’s dollar bonds are among the world’s worst this month, losing 21% compared to a 5.9% drop in the emerging market index.

That’s a quick reversal from a stellar performance for the country in the bond market early this year.

“Bonds should find a bottom,” Nathalie Marshik, managing director of fixed income at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in New York, said. The impeachment survival “puts Lasso in a stronger position to negotiate but after the breakdown yesterday it is not quite clear how quickly this gets solved.”

Survival For Now

Lasso’s political survival comes as the government offered concessions worth more than $600 million, including lowering fuel prices, to try to dissipate the violent social unrest that has paralyzed the Andean country since mid-June. His administration spent Monday negotiating with some of the indigenous groups led by umbrella organization CONAIE that have been protesting over rising prices of fuel and food.

An overnight attack on an oil convoy near Shushufindi left one soldier dead and seven injured, the defense ministry said, leading Lasso to cancel the negotiations on Tuesday.

“We will not negotiate with those who hold Ecuador hostage,” the president said in a short video around midday, adding that he will only speak to “legitimate representatives” of indigenous communities.

Now the question is if Lasso will try to resume the negotiations after the vote in congress to end the crisis on the country’s streets.

The demonstrations have disrupted oil production and become the biggest political crisis for the market-friendly president, who took power over a year ago with a pledge to stabilize the economy and promote foreign investment and free trade agreements. Protesters seek additional fuel subsidies, ending the government’s plans to privatize state assets and a moratorium on new oil and mining projects, among a total 10 demands.

Even after surviving impeachment, Lasso will remained politically weakened by the crisis, leaving the president “very vulnerable to future unrest and impeachment efforts,” Eurasia Group’s analysts Risa Grais-Targow and Yael Sternberg wrote before the vote.

Across Latin America, accelerating inflation and diminishing income are threatening governments and prompting an up-tick in subsidies to soften the blow on a population that is emerging from the pandemic more unequal and poorer. The indigenous groups leading the Ecuador protest paralyzed the country in 2019 with similar actions against then president Lenin Moreno.

In neighboring Peru, President Pedro Castillo, a school teacher and union organizer with scarce experience in nationwide politics before reaching the presidency less than a year ago, already survived two impeachment attempts amid a slump in his approval rating. Some lawmakers are still pushing for Castillo’s removal on the grounds of treason to the country.

Ecuador’s protests hit an economy that has still not fully recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic. The energy ministry said on Sunday that oil production would likely stop in 48 hours due to protesters’ attack on oil facilities and the industry’s supply lines.

In addition, the Health Ministry warned that hospitals in Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city, are running short of medical oxygen because of road blocks.
Yahoo News
written by Alexandra Valencia, Reuters News
Tuesday June 28, 2022

QUITO - Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso survived an attempt by opposition lawmakers to oust him on Tuesday after he insisted his government will not negotiate further with an indigenous leader to end more than two weeks of protests.

The protests have been linked to eight deaths and have led to food and medicine shortages and slashed oil output.

"We will not return to dialogue with Leonidas Iza, who only defends his political interests and not those of his base," Lasso said, referring to the indigenous leader.

"To our indigenous brothers - you deserve more than an opportunist for a leader."

Largely indigenous demonstrators have been marching to protest against high fuel and food prices since June 13 and at least eight people have died in connection with the marches, including a soldier killed early on Tuesday.

Protesters' road blockades have led to shortages of food in supermarkets and medical supplies in hospitals.

As of Monday, Ecuador's total oil production was at 234,496 barrels per day (bpd), less than half the output of about 520,000 bpd before the protests.

Lasso's adversarial relationship with Ecuador's national assembly has worsened during the protests, prompting lawmakers from the opposition UNES movement, loyal to former leftist President Rafael Correa, to push a vote seeking his removal from office.

The vote was thrown into chaos as some lawmakers complained of technical problems and it had to be repeated three times.

On the third vote late on Tuesday, 80 of Ecuador's 137 lawmakers voted to remove Lasso as president, shy of the 92 votes needed for the measure to succeed.

Lasso said the government had made significant concessions to the protesters, agreeing to a gasoline price cut, debt forgiveness and subsidies for fertilizers, among other demands.

Iza said on Monday the price cut was not enough.

Lasso said his government was open to talks but not with Iza.

The country could not engage in dialogue with those holding it "hostage", Lasso added.

He offered condolences to the family of the soldier who was killed when people with guns attacked a convoy of 17 diesel tankers that he was accompanying.

"Only when there are legitimate representatives of all the peoples and ethnicities of Ecuador, who seek real solutions and who are open to a real and frank dialogue, will we return to the negotiating table," Lasso said.

Iza, responding to Lasso, said he would remain at the venue of the talks until government representatives came.

"Mr President, we have never conditioned who can come to dialogue and who cannot," he said.

"In this moment what seems important to me is an attitude of peace, of dialogue, no more warlike attitudes," added Iza, who heads the CONAIE indigenous organization.

Mediators at the talks said the two sides had been close to a deal.


Ecuador's oil production has fallen by 1.8 million barrels during the protests, the energy ministry said on Tuesday, as blockades prevented the transport of supplies to oil blocks.

State-run oil company Petroecuador has registered a reduction of 1.47 million barrels, while private producers have lost more than 385,000 barrels, the ministry said in a statement.

"In 15 days the state has stopped receiving $166.4 million in the oil sector. Up to now 1,199 wells have been shut, 85% belonging to Petroecuador," the ministry said, adding the SOTE pipeline was halted again on Monday because of low crude volumes and the private OCP pipeline was pumping at 20% of its capacity, some 92,000 barrels.

The ITT field - Ecuador's largest - was operating normally and produced more than 52,000 barrels on Monday, according to Petroecuador.

A company source who asked not to be identified said Petroecuador was looking at whether it would need to delay exports but production would likely not have to stop for several more days.

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