Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso survived an attempt by opposition lawmakers to oust him on Tuesday, after insisting his government will no longer negotiate with an indigenous leader to end more than two weeks of protests.
The protests were linked to eight deaths, contributed to food and medicine shortages and reduced oil production.
“We will not talk to Leonidas Iza again, who only defends his political interests and not those of his base,” said Lasso, referring to the indigenous leader. “To our indigenous brothers: you deserve more than an opportunistic leader.”
Protesters, mostly indigenous, have been protesting high fuel and food prices since June 13, and at least eight people have died in connection with the demonstrations.
Roadblocks carried out by protesters contributed to shortages of food in supermarkets and medical supplies in hospitals.
As of Monday, Ecuador’s total oil production was at 234,496 barrels per day (bpd), less than half the production of around 520,000 bpd seen before the protests.
Lasso’s antagonistic relationship with Ecuador’s National Assembly worsened during the protests, prompting lawmakers from the opposition movement UNES, loyal to leftist former president Rafael Correa, to press for a vote to remove him from office.
The vote faced problems, with complaints from some parliamentarians about technical problems, and had to be repeated three times.
In the third vote on Tuesday night, 80 of Ecuador’s 137 lawmakers voted to remove Lasso as president, missing another 92 votes needed for the measure to succeed.
Lasso said the government had made significant concessions to the protesters, agreeing to a gas price cut, debt relief and fertilizer subsidies, among other demands.
Iza said on Monday that the price cut was not enough.
Lasso said his government is open to negotiations, but not with Iza.
The country cannot dialogue with those who hold it “hostage”, added Lasso.
He offered condolences to the family of the soldier who was killed when people with guns attacked a convoy of 17 tanker trucks he was accompanying.
“Only when there are legitimate representatives of all the peoples and ethnicities of Ecuador, who seek real solutions and are open to a real and frank dialogue, will we return to the negotiating table,” said Lasso.
Iza, responding to Lasso, said he would remain at the site of negotiations until government representatives arrived.
“Mr President, we never condition who can come to dialogue and who cannot,” he said.
“Right now, what seems important to me is an attitude of peace, of dialogue, not more warlike attitudes”, added Iza, who heads the indigenous organization CONAIE. Mediators in the talks said the two sides were close to an agreement.
Source: CNN Brasil