Hours as after President Lenin Moreno invited the Indigenous groups to “dialogue” since massive protests began in the country nine days ago, police bombard peaceful protesters in Quito with ammo and tear gas.
An hour after Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, invited the Indigenous groups and other civil society groups to “dialogue” for the first time since massive protests began nine days ago in the Andean country, the National Police bombarded these peaceful protesters with live ammunition and tear gas who had gathered in front of the National Assembly in Quito from armed vehicles.
Videos from Friday afternoon show tear gas bombs being shot from the armored cars and live ammunition sounding off, sending masses of demonstrators running toward the historic center to protect themselves.
Ecuadorean social scientist, Aquiles Hervas, said over social media from the scene: “We have just witnessed a vile betrayal. [Authorities] accepted the crowd’s arrival outside the assembly in order to talk shortly after the president’s announcement. Once they had approached [the building], the police fired at close range while people were eating soup. Several children were trampled by the terrified crowd. It is a war scene with unarmed people, several were injured.”
Before @policiaEcuador start throwing bombs and shooting pellets ... today
Video capturing the attacks show hundreds of people fleeing eastward from the assembly, trying to escape the tear gas grenades and armored vehicles. Just moments before the aggression, the thousands who were sent running, had been peacefully sitting on the assembly lawn, chanting, "no more bullets, no more rocks."
Con alevosía los policías y militares, luego de rearmarse cuando aterrizaron helicópteros, van con toda la fuerza contra la gente que permanecía tranquila, la fuerza pública convierte en zona de guerra la @AsambleaEcuador. Alertamos gran cantidad de heridos@CIDHpic.twitter.com/tlBJx5tuFj
Police and military, after rearming when helicopters landed, go with full force against the people who remained calm, the public forces turn this into a war zone @AsambleEcuador. We alert there are a large number of injured @CIDH
For the first time since nationwide protests began last Thursday, President Lenin Moreno, on Friday, called on Indigenous movements to "dialogue" the controversial decree 883 that ended fuel subsidies and reduced workers' rights as of Oct. 3, unleashing massive protests against the measures by the unpopular government that has a 17 percent approval rating.
The austerity measures are being implemented at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for a US$4.2 billion loan negotiated by the Moreno administration last March.
"Let's sit down to talk, let's sit down and talk about decree 883, let's talk about where your resources should go, and make sure they go to those who need it most," Moreno said in a 20 second message to the nation at 3:00 p.m. local time. The violent incident outside the National Assembly occurred at around 4:30 p.m.
Just after the unexpected attacks, the Ecuadorean Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), which has spearheaded the protests, released a statement calling this one of the “worst massacres in Ecuadorean history” and dismissed Moreno’s recent invitation to dialogue, saying the group has been “trying to dialogue with the government for two and a half years” when the Moreno administration entered office, “but with no specific results.”
Conaie President Jaime Vargas who is on the frontlines of the marches, told teleSUR Friday afternoon from the scene that the government is using “live ammunition” against the people.
“These aren’t rubble bullets,” Vargas said, showing the camera gun casing left behind by National Police forces that have been filmed over the past week using excessive force on protesters in several cities throughout Ecuador.
“These have a range of 30-60 meters. They are murdering us,” Vargas said.
The Conaie reiterated in its Friday afternoon statement that it will not end protests, which have culminated in Quito, until the decree is revoked.