"CONAIE president's illegal arrest might mark the installation of a boots-and-cubs fascism as well as a 'desktop' fascism carried out by prosecutors and judges," a human rights defender said.
On Tuesday, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces and Police detained Leonidas Iza, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), the organization that called for an indefinite national strike against President Guillermo Lasso.
“Elite groups of the Police and the Armed Forces illegally detained Leonidas Iza,” CONAIE tweeted along with a video showing images of his violent detention, which took place in the Lasso sector, in the province of Cotopaxi.
“We call on our organizational structure to radicalize the protest and demand the freedom of our maximum leader and respect for the dignity of our struggle,” it added.
Without mentioning the CONAIE leader, President Lasso said at dawn that the security forces were detaining national strike's intellectual and material authors. The right-wing politician justified his decision by arguing that the demonstrators had set fire to a patrol car, looted producers, smashed windshields, attacked oil pumping facilities, cut off water supplies to communities, and blocked roads.
“Now it's up to the Prosecutor's Office and the Judiciary to act because no one is above the law. We cannot be victims of vandals who only want to cause chaos”, Lasso said.
The tweet reads, "Attention: Guillermo Lasso orders the militarization of the Flagrancia Unit in Quito. CONAIE President Leonidas Iza will be tried there. National Strike."
Since the indefinite national strike began in the early hours of Monday, some cities in the country have had logistical problems due to the blockade of highways with barricades. In the afternoon, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said that Indigenous communities had "kidnapped" policemen in the Saraguro canton in Loja province to "purify" them with ritual procedures.
Meanwhile, the militarization of cities and highways to contain social protest has raised immediate concern about the situation of civil rights in Ecuador.
"CONAIE president's illegal arrest might mark the installation of a boots-and-cubs fascism as well as a 'desktop' fascism carried out by prosecutors and judges at the service of the regime," said Romel Jurado, a lawyer and human rights defender.
"That is why it is necessary that the highest leaders of all political forces and social organizations demand the immediate release of Leonidas Iza, offer him all kinds of support, including legal advice, and call on their militants to join the national strike."