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Protest leaders in Ecuador accept talks with govt as…

Indigenous leaders of massive protests that have paralyzed Ecuador’s economy for nearly a week said today that it has decided to hold direct talks with President Lenin Moreno about reinstating a state fuel subsidy.

The surprising move is the first sign of a potential breakthrough in a dispute that has triggered more than a week of unrest.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador said on its Twitter account that after an internal discussion ‘we have decided to participate in direct dialogue’ with Moreno. 

Minutes later, the mayor of Quito, Jorge Yunda, told local TV channel Ecuavisa that Moreno’s government had decided to ‘analyze’ a law Moreno passed last week that ended the fuel subsidies and triggered a backlash.

The back-to-back announcements came as the highland capital of Quito was rocked by a tenth day of clashes over Moreno’s austerity plan, a key part of his efforts to rein in the fiscal deficit after signing a $4.2 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Leaders of a massive protest in Ecuador to reinstate a fuel subsidy have announced today that it has decided to hold direct talks with President Lenin Moreno

Streets of the capital city Quito resembled a war zone as plumes of tear gas clouded streets littered with bricks and small fires and groups of people huddled behind walls and makeshift barricades for protection

Streets of the capital city Quito resembled a war zone as plumes of tear gas clouded streets littered with bricks and small fires and groups of people huddled behind walls and makeshift barricades for protection

Back-to-back announcements of the decision to hold talks came as Quito was rocked by a tenth day of clashes over Moreno's austerity plan, a key part of his efforts to rein in the fiscal deficit after signing a $4.2 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Back-to-back announcements of the decision to hold talks came as Quito was rocked by a tenth day of clashes over Moreno’s austerity plan, a key part of his efforts to rein in the fiscal deficit after signing a $4.2 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Local TV reported that people had set fire to the building of the country's comptroller, showing images of it enveloped in smoke. Pictured:  A protestor wearing a gas mask holds up a sign that reads 'Day #10. You still don't kill me Moreno!' (translated from Spanish)

Local TV reported that people had set fire to the building of the country’s comptroller, showing images of it enveloped in smoke. Pictured:  A protestor wearing a gas mask holds up a sign that reads ‘Day #10. You still don’t kill me Moreno!’ (translated from Spanish)

At least four people have been killed in the unrest and hundreds have been wounded and arrested

At least four people have been killed in the unrest and hundreds have been wounded and arrested

Downtown Quito resembled a war zone as plumes of tear gas clouded streets littered with bricks and small fires and groups of people huddled behind walls and makeshift barricades for protection.

Police fired tear gas at protesters gathered at the country’s parliamentary building and access roads to Quito’s airport were reported blocked by the airport authority.

Local TV reported that people had set fire to the building of the country’s comptroller, showing images of it enveloped in smoke.

At least four people have been killed in the unrest and hundreds have been wounded and arrested.

On Friday, President Moreno called for the sides to sit down immediately. ‘The country must recover its calm,’ he said on national television. ‘Let’s sit down and talk.’

Oil wells have been closed by protesters in parts of the country, curbing production of more than 1 million barrels of crude so far, the energy ministry said on Saturday.

A Chinese-owned copper mine announced it was temporarily limiting its operations as a precautionary measure. 

On Friday, President Moreno (pictured) called for the sides to sit down immediately. 'The country must recover its calm,' he said on national television. 'Let's sit down and talk'

On Friday, President Moreno (pictured) called for the sides to sit down immediately. ‘The country must recover its calm,’ he said on national television. ‘Let’s sit down and talk’

Demonstrators sit atop the sculpture Esfera de Movimientos Oscilantes ('Sphere of Oscillating Movements') at the El Arbolito park in capital Quito during the 10th day of the protest, which was sparked over a fuel price hike ordered by the government to secure an IMF loan

Demonstrators sit atop the sculpture Esfera de Movimientos Oscilantes (‘Sphere of Oscillating Movements’) at the El Arbolito park in capital Quito during the 10th day of the protest, which was sparked over a fuel price hike ordered by the government to secure an IMF loan

Oil wells have been closed by protesters in parts of the country, curbing production of more than 1 million barrels of crude so far, the energy ministry said on Saturday

Oil wells have been closed by protesters in parts of the country, curbing production of more than 1 million barrels of crude so far, the energy ministry said on Saturday

Groups of young, stone-throwing protesters battled police with rocks. Yesterday, the street fighters reached the main entrance of the National Assembly before they were driven back by tear gas

Groups of young, stone-throwing protesters battled police with rocks. Yesterday, the street fighters reached the main entrance of the National Assembly before they were driven back by tear gas

The national comptroller's building burns during clashes between anti-government demonstrators and the police in Quito

The national comptroller’s building burns during clashes between anti-government demonstrators and the police in Quito

Faced with a $64 billion debt and a $10 billion annual deficit, President Lenin Moreno is raising taxes, liberalizing labor laws and cutting public spending in order to win more than $4 billion in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund

Faced with a $64 billion debt and a $10 billion annual deficit, President Lenin Moreno is raising taxes, liberalizing labor laws and cutting public spending in order to win more than $4 billion in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund

As a military helicopter circled overhead, a volunteer clown in a red rubber nose sang a nonsense song to laughing children outside a public theater.

Volunteers inside handed juice and sandwiches to members of the Shuar people newly arrived from the Amazon rainforest. Some had black face paint and hand-carved wooden spears that poked above the indigenous demonstrators who’ve taken over the sprawling state-run complex known as the Casa de la Cultura.

A few blocks away, groups of young, stone-throwing protesters battled police with rocks. On Friday afternoon, the street fighters reached the main entrance of the National Assembly before they were driven back by tear gas in the fifth consecutive day of clashes in the heart of Quito, Ecuador’s capital.

This is the field of the main battle for control of the economic future of Ecuador, a former OPEC member left deeply in debt by a decade of high-spending governance and the oil price drop. Faced with a $64 billion debt and a $10 billion annual deficit, President Lenin Moreno is raising taxes, liberalizing labor laws and cutting public spending in order to win more than $4 billion in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund.

As part of that plan, Moreno eliminated a subsidy on the price of fuel on Oct. 2, driving the most popular variety of gasoline from $1.85 to $2.39 a gallon and diesel from $1.03 to $2.30. Panic and speculation sent prices soaring, with costs of some products – papayas, rural bus fares – doubling or more.

The IMF has long been a lightning rod for conflict in Latin America. Argentine President Mauricio Macri was trounced in an August primary vote amid stiff opposition to an IMF deal he signed last year.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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