Ecuador’s government on Friday reduced fuel prices as part of a deal that ended more than two weeks of disruptive protests paralysing the country.
The reduction came after thousands of indigenous protesters left the capital Quito on Thursday evening after their leaders signed the agreement with the government to end 18 days of cost-of-living demonstrations.
Following mediation by the Catholic Church, the government agreed to drop fuel prices by 15 cents. On Friday, a gallon of gasoline dropped from US$2.55 to US$2.40 and diesel fell from US$1.90 to US$1.75.
Fast-rising fuel prices were the catalyst for the protests called by the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) and marked by burning roadblocks and sometimes violent clashes with the security forces.
Five civilians and a soldier died in the protests that started on June 13, hundreds were injured on both sides, and some 150 people were arrested.
Some 10,000 indigenous protesters had congregated in Quito from their homes in Andean and Amazon regions for the protests.
On Thursday night, they began boarding trucks and buses adorned with Ecuador flags and the Wiphala, the colorful indigenous flag.
Thursday’s deal included an end to the disruptive countrywide roadblocks and the lifting of a state of emergency in four of the country’s 24 provinces.
It also provides for a review of government decrees on oil exploitation and mining in indigenous lands.
These 18 days amounted to the longest period of social action launched by Conaie, which is credited with unseating three presidents between 1997 and 2005.
Indigenous people make up more than a million of the South American nation’s 17.7 million inhabitants.