QUITO – Ecuadorian police used tear gas on Thursday to disperse a demonstration in Quito called by a union to protest the country’s economic scenario and the management of the situation by the Lenin Moreno government.
The police action came on the Plaza de Santo Domingo in the historic zone of the Ecuadorian capital after protesters started throwing objects at security forces posted at one of the intersections near the Carondelet presidential palace.
Motorized police later moved onto the plaza and dispersed dozens of demonstrators as a helicopter overflew the area to support the operation from the air.
At least 2,000 demonstrators participated in the protest called by the Frente Unitario de Trabajadores (FUT) union to make their feelings known about the worsening economic situation in Ecuador, which has been intensified by the coronavirus pandemic, the losses of jobs the pandemic has caused and to reject the conditions agreed to between the government and the International Monetary Fund.
Shouting “Here they are, the ones who are protecting corruption” and “Down with the Morenato, down with the IMF,” the marchers left El Ejido park and moved peacefully toward the historic downtown area with the intention of getting as close as possible to the presidential palace, which was heavily protected by security forces.
Amid a profusion of red union flags, the marchers moved without incident through the avenues to the colonial center of town, where the streets were empty of residents and a heavy police presence was deployed.
“There is much injustice in the country, corruption, bad leadership that has caused layoffs and makes laws for the privileged,” one of the demonstrators coming from the Andean province of Cotopaxi, Carlos Perez, told EFE to explain his presence at the protest.
Col. Richard Coellar, the head of operations for the National Police in the Quito Metropolitan District, said at the beginning of the march that the force had negotiated with the union leaders to have the march move through the La Marin zone instead of moving down Guayaquil Avenue, near the Carondelet Palace.
The government seat had been cordoned off with barriers and barbed wire at all intersections around the square spreading from the Plaza Grande in Old Quito.
Behind the barrier dozens of security forces had been deployed – including National Police officers and heavily outfitted anti-riot units, along with anti-riot armored cars.
Ecuador was largely paralyzed from Oct. 3-13, 2019, by disturbances in downtown Quito and by blockades set up along vital roadways all across the country.
Those demonstrations came after a decree that eliminated longstanding subsidies on gasoline – which were later nullified to placate the protesters – in which a dozen people died and more than 1,500 were injured, including 435 members of the security forces.