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The release of Antonio Vargas and other Indigenous leaders comes two days before the Lasso administration holds negotiations with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities.
On Monday, Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso pardoned Antonio Vargas, the ex President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), for his involvement alleged illegal deals. His decree also includes Indigenous activists Carlos Chacha and Gonzalo Villamil, who were detained during the 2019 protests against President Lenin Moreno (2017-2021).
The decision to pardon the Indigenous leaders comes just two days before Lasso and his cabinet meet with CONAIE, an organization that has been leading mass protests against neoliberal policies.
The National Service of Integral Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI) declared that Vargas has demonstrated good conduct and approved his early release from jail. The decree ended his sentence immediately and exonerated him from the payment of fines.
Although Vargas was prosecuted in 2017, his sentence was commuted to community service. In June 2021, however, days after the CONAIE Congress took place, he was arrested and sent to jail again. Social groups considered such action as an act of political persecution.
��MAJOR LEGAL VICTORY in #Ecuador for the right to protest!
From Oct. 26 to 28, CONAIE called on citizens to take over the streets and block highways so to protest policies related to fuel hikes and labor flexibilization, which would benefit private companies and jeopardize workers' rights.
At the upcoming CONAIE-Government meeting, organizations such as the Workers United Front (FUT) and the Popular Front(FP) will also be present demanding the dialogue to be "clear and transparent."
Besides rejecting fuel price increases, citizens hope the Lasso administration renegotiates producer's debts, enforces minimum prices for agricultural goods, and makes decisions to reduce interest rates.