Ecuador Indian protests intensify after clash
QUITO, Ecuador (Reuters) -- More than 1,000 Indians marched Thursday in
Ecuadorian highlands to protest against government-mandated fuel price hikes
and a military crackdown on demonstrations, in which 11 people were injured
In Cotopaxi province, some 50 miles south of Ecuador's capital, about 1,500
Indians Wednesday tried to block the Pan-American highway -- the main
roadway stretching from Alaska through South America-- but were dispersed in
a clash with the military that left 10 Indians and one soldier injured.
A member of the military was kidnapped during the incident when soldiers
to spray tear gas to disperse the crowd, the armed services said.
The vice president of Ecuador's National Confederation of Indians, Ricardo
Ulcuango, warned that the government's "lack of response" would lead to
"If the government does not decide to repeal the economic measures adopted
month, our communities will march to the capital," he told Reuters.
Students, teachers and trade unions have staged mass marches over the past
three and a half weeks to protest against a 75 percent rise in municipal bus fares
and a 25 percent hike in the most-widely used gasoline to $1 per gallon.
In Quito, protesting public university students have hurled Molotov cocktails
dynamite at police, who responded with tear gas.
Ecuador, an Andean nation of 12.4 million people, is struggling to consolidate
political stability after a military and Indian uprising toppled President Jamil
Mahuad last year and catapulted then-vice president Gustavo Noboa to power.
A week ago, Ecuador's high military command said it would crack down on
groups that use popular protests to try and destabilize the government.
Copyright 2001 Reuters.