Protest leaders in Ecuador accept talks with government as unrest roils capital

An indigenous group in Ecuador that has led massive protests to reinstate a fuel subsidy said on Saturday (October 12) that it has decided to hold direct talks with President Lenin Moreno, the first sign of a potential breakthrough in a dispute that has triggered more than a week of unrest.

Minutes later, the mayor of Quito, Jorge Yunda, told local TV channel Ecuavisa that Moreno’s government had decided to “analyse” 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 10th 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).

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.

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

(Production: Alberto Fajardo, Lucy Marks)

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