Travel Risk: HIGH
A brief introduction to the situation
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) is Ecuador’s largest indigenous rights organization. In the past, CONAIE has led protests that have resulted in the unseating of 3 presidents from 1997 to 2005. In June 2022, CONAIE led nationwide protests against high gasoline prices and inflation, causing mass violence and destruction across the country. During the protests, CONAIE almost added another president’s dismissal to their belt, with President Guillermo Lasso barely surviving a vote of no confidence. Lasso initially dismissed the protestors and their demands, but as violence rose, the government was compelled to listen. Talks between the government and CONAIE leaders only began on July 13, but may not last long because the government has already opened an investigation alleging that the protests were financed with money from drug trafficking. CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza has said that they came to the table with humility but these accusations were insulting. The 90-day deadline for meeting the protestors’ demands may be too long if either of the parties pulls out of talks.
What has led to the current situation?
CONAIE released a list of 10 demands that can be seen as the cause of the current situation. This includes:
- Freezing of diesel prices at $1.50, extra gasoline at $2.10, along with subsidies for the poorer sectors,
- Freezing of public, private and cooperative banking debts along with forgiveness of debt for countryside producers,
- Setting fair prices on farm products, agricultural subsidies and no signing of foreign trade agreements that hamper production,
- Providing better employment, freedom of association and labour rights for the working class,
- Stopping the expansion of extractive mining, providing reparation for socio-environmental damages, and repealing decrees 95 and 151,
- Respecting the 21 collective rights and better education for indigenous people,
- Stopping the privatization of sectors like banks, hydroelectric plants, highways, and healthcare,
- Providing a price control policy and speculation rights in the essential products’ market,
- Guaranteeing access to higher education and improvement of education infrastructure,
- Providing security and policies against violence and crime in Ecuador.
- Travellers are advised to avoid public places and travel during future demonstrations to minimize safety and security risks.
- The protests broke out on 13 June and went on until 30 June when an agreement, mediated by the Catholic Church, was signed between the protest leaders and the government.
- The government agreed to set gasoline at $2.40 and diesel at $1.75. Expansion limits were set for oil exploration along with mining prohibitions in protected areas.
- During the protests, 5 civilians and 1 soldier were killed. Hundreds of people were injured in mass violence from both sides.
- According to the central bank, the protests, over 18 days, have cost Ecuador an estimated 1 billion dollars. This is mainly due to the blocking of the production of oil, which is the biggest export commodity of Ecuador.
- The protests have been called off but many members of CONAIE have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms offered by the government. Further protests and violence are possible.
- During the protests, President Lasso had to go through a vote of no confidence. Following the agreement, four ministers resigned from their posts. A political crisis may be brewing.
- The government has been given 90 days to address the demands of the protestors, following which more protests are likely if demands are not met.
- Consider a Sitata membership which will give you disruption and threat warnings while you’re on the ground along with emergency travel assistance should you find yourself in a troubling situation.
Is it Safe to Travel to Ecuador?
It is currently NOT safe to travel to Ecuador due to heightened political and economic tensions. Tourists visiting Ecuador should minimise security risks by avoiding all public and political demonstrations since they can turn violent unexpectedly.
The travel risk to Ecuador is currently HIGH. Some countries advise exercising a high degree of caution when travelling to mainland Ecuador. They also advise against all but essential travel to some border regions of the country due to the unpredictable and unstable safety and security situation.
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