QUITO – A large number of indigenous protesters and representatives of trade unions and social sectors marched in Quito on Wednesday demanding the release of those arrested during demonstrations against President Rafael Correa’s government.
The marches, conducted under police vigilance through several streets in the heart of the capital, were peaceful.
Groups of indigenous people from the Amazon, led by Marlon Santi, former president of Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, environmentalists, professors, leaders of Workers Unitary Front, the country’s main trade union, and opposition politicians participated in the demonstrations.
Marlon Santi told EFE the demands of the social groups ranged from shelving the proposed constitutional amendments to the release of those arrested during recent protests.
“(President Correa) has to shelve the draft of constitutional amendments submitted to Parliament,” that would allow publicly elected officials to run for re-election for an indefinite number of terms, he said.
“(Correa) cannot remain in power for life, that is not the way, the way of the constitution, democracy,” the indigenous leader added.
The government defends the constitutional amendment on indefinite re-election saying it only allows a publicly elected official to be a candidate but doesn’t ensure his/her re-election, which lies in the hands of the citizens.
Social groups and the political opposition fear the amendment will allow Correa to be re-elected in 2017, although the president has not confirmed standing for re-election yet.
For Ecuador to be at peace, there must be “justice, equality for all Ecuadorians,” declared Santi while also demanding the “release of all prisoners (arrested in protests) especially of activist Margoth Escobar who has been illegally detained in the Amazon.”
Ecuador’s Ministry of Interior said 102 people have been arrested since last week and did not rule out the possibility of legal action against “people who are encouraging demonstrators to attack police officers.”
The demonstrations, some of which have been violent, have left 104 police officers injured, at least eight of them in Macas, capital of the southwestern Morona-Santiago Province.