Ecuador cuts gasoline prices in latest concession to protesters

QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuadorean President Guillermo Laso said on Sunday he would cut petrol and diesel prices by 10 cents a gallon, the latest concession to try to end nearly two weeks of anti-government protests that have drawn at least six people. Die.

Sometimes violent demonstrations by indigenous protesters demanding lower prices for fuel and food, among other things, began on June 13 and led to reduced oil production in Ecuador.

Lasso, whose hostile relationship with the National Assembly worsened during the protests, had already withdrawn security measures and announced subsidized fertilizer and debt relief, and his government met this weekend with indigenous groups. Read more

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Leonidas Iza, leader of the indigenous organization CONAIE, announced the gasoline prices and other pending issues earlier on Sunday, promising to continue the demonstrations until they are settled.

“Everyone considers that gas prices have become the cornerstone of the continuation of the conflict, and although we as a government are very clear that this factor is not the root of the problems of Ecuadorians, we must think about the common good and the peace of the citizens,” Laso said.

“I decided to cut the price of additional gasoline and Ecobase (gasoline) by 10 cents a gallon and also diesel by 10 cents a gallon,” Lasso said.

The Lasso froze prices for additional gasoline at $2.55 a gallon and diesel at $1.90 a gallon in October of last year, which led to an initial series of protests.

The extra gasoline will now cost $2.45 a gallon, while the diesel will cost $1.80, both still higher than what CONAIE ordered.

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The Ecuadorean Energy Ministry said earlier that oil production in Ecuador has fallen by more than half due to road closures and acts of vandalism linked to the protests.

“Oil production is at a critical level. Today’s figures show a decrease of more than 50%,” the ministry said in a statement. “Within 14 days of demonstrations, the Ecuadorean state stopped receiving about $120 million.”

The ministry said sabotage, seizure of oil wells and road closures prevented the transportation of essential supplies.

Before the protests, oil production was about 520,000 barrels per day.

The Ministry of Production said the public oil sector, flower and dairy producers from the private sector, tourism and other companies lost about $500 million.

Quito residents have complained of a shortage of produce and Laso said earlier on Sunday that hospitals in the city of Cuenca were suffering from a lack of oxygen.

The Independent National Human Rights Commission counted five dead protesters, while the government says four civilians died during the protests and two died in ambulances that were delayed due to the siege.

Lawmakers continued the debate on Sunday about trying to remove Lasso from office, though opposition groups did not appear to have the support needed to do so.

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(covering by Alexandra Valencia) Writing by Julia Simes Cobb Editing by Nick Czyminsky and Robert Percell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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