With her palms raised, María Guamán, 23, sang the melody of a religious hymn at one of the shut entrances of the Centennial Park (Parque Centenario) in Guayaquil, on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s wonderful to walk in Christ, it’s beautiful to walk by His side,” repeated Maria along with dozens of indigenous evangelicals who gathered to protest against the economic measures set forth by Lenin Moreno’s government.

«With the gasoline prices rise, everything becomes more expensive, potatos… transport fares,” assured Maria, a merchant in a market in the north of the city. Rosa, in her 20s dressed in indigenous garments, also rejected the measures. «We are all indigenous, we’re not part of any organization, we’ve come to fight for the whole country, because with the increase in transport prices everything becomes costly,” she indicated, Wednesday afternoon after crossing, by foot, the blocked National Unity bridge that leads to Durán. 

The praises and claims that María and Rosa received contrasted with the aggressiveness shown a few meters away, by groups of people, between the ages of 20 and 55, that arrived from rural areas of Guayaquil like the suburbs, Las Malvinas, Guasmo or LaTrinitaria.

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With sticks, stones and cables in their hands, they gathered in the corners. Some were shirtless and carrying backpacks, as they moved along 9 de Octubre Avenue, faced with reprimand with tear gas, they retreated and dispersed. After a few minutes they returned shouting political slogans: «Out Lenin, out,» «Constituent, now.»

Others looked for stones from reclaimed garden paths or removed cobblestones to hurl at the Police, that rebuked the protesters, men or women, with batons. Due to the tension, the few open businesses closed their doors to avoid the looting and destruction lived in the country during the last eleven days of strike. They have resulted in around six deaths, dozens injured, economic losses of almost three billion dollars and have left Quito resembling a war zone.

Patrimonial buildings in the capital’s colonial downtown were affected, rocks and sticks used as weapons filled the streets, the soot of burnt tires and homemade molotov bombs, surrounded the Plaza Grande, where Carondelet Palace -the presidential headquarters- is located.

Unparalleled excesses and excessive repression. «Vandalism is a suigéneris element of the protests in Ecuador,» analyzed Patricio Carpio, a sociologist and academic, who believes that violence unrest is a result of the economic measures, unemployment and lack of education in the population, which is taken advantage of by ’dark political groups that are behind those vandals’ attacking the city. “Populism corrupts the population the most, it emerges in times of social upheaval,» the expert remarked.

At the beginning of the week, Government denounced, on national television, the interference of (Rafael) Correa’s allies in the violent demonstrations and accused the former president, Ricardo Patiño, Paola Pabón and Virgilio Hernández, of seeking a ‘coup d’etat’ in the country. “Chaos has been produced by his government @mariapaularomo Peace will return when the measures are removed, his fascist government will not last a lifetime,» Pabón, prefect in Pichincha, replied on her Twitter account.

Protests began at 9 de Octubre Avenue and moved ahead towards Francisco de Orellana

Other opposition leaders also denied their alleged interference in the protests, which nationwide has caused more than 750 detainees. Only in the violent takeover of the National Assembly, last Tuesday, 73 people were arrested, then released; 12 of them adherents of the PAIS Alliance and ten former officials of the previous regime, according to the records reviewed by this newspaper.

In Guayaquil, 241 people were arrested from October 3rd to the 9th. Of these, 233 Ecuadorians and 8 foreigners (4 Venezuelans, 3 Colombians and 1 Portuguese-Colombian). Among those arrested are seven members of the PAIS Alliance and three public officials, two of them from the previous government. “There are infiltrated people, criminal groups, they can be foreigners or political organizations,” said Colonel Fausto Salinas, commander of Police in Zone 5 (Los Ríos, Guayas – outside Guayaquil -, Santa Elena, Galapagos and Bolivar).

Among those arrested, said Vice President, Otto Sonnenholzner, there are a «significant» number of foreigners, who said they received $40 to $50 for attending protests. While the Minister of Government, María Paula Romo, reported 17 people arrested at Quito airport, the majority were Venezuelans who had information about the mobilization of the president and vice president.

Subsequently, 13 people were released and four (two Venezuelans, one Cuban and one Ecuadorian) were prosecuted for illegal association.

«There is no doubt that Venezuelans are involved,” said Lenin Moreno on Thursday and added that evidence of the presence of dissidents of the FARC Colombian guerrilla group in the demonstrations has been summoned. «There is also a criminal group called Latin Kings involved,” he added.

This urban gang has been close to the correísta regime. One of its leaders accompanied Rafael Correa on his tour to China in 2014. «The Latin Kings are people of peace,» congressman, Ronny Aleaga, responded in a statement on Twitter and added: «My brothers have nothing to do with these grave and unfortunate public events.»

The agitation was also experienced in social networks, in which fake news were shared to instigate fear in the population. From accounts that included phrases supporting the former regime and that used the hashtag #yotambiensoyzangano violence was encouraged and reference was made to what was said by President, Lenin Moreno, last week: “Let’s be clear, the subsidy was eliminated, the laziness is over. ”

“Social media shows the political position of  people, but they also create environments that are not real, environments of uncertainty and agitation,” explained the sociologist Carpio. (I)

Source: Diario El Universo

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