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"It is easy to reach for protesters and difficult to reach the people who work in the government palace. Also...because in the end, most of them [protesters] were coming for me”
In an interview with the BBC, Lenin Moreno opened up about why he fled the country's capital, Quito. He also reiterated his theory that the entire protest movement has been orchestrated by Venezuela and former leftist President Rafael Correa.
“Being a city with colonial characteristics, the center of Quito, where the government palace is located, is quite cloistered and it becomes difficult to reach if it is surrounded by military and police. It is easy to reach for protesters and difficult to reach the people who work in the government palace. Also...because in the end, most of them [protesters] were coming for me” said the embattled president on Wednesday.
Moreno faced a skeptical interviewer who questioned Moreno’s claim that Nicolas Maduro and Rafael Correa are the sole driving force behind the uprising against his austerity package.
“You have accused former president Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro of having activated a 'destabilization plan' and an 'attempted coup' against you. What evidence do you have of this?” Moreno simply replied that pro-Correa forces are always encouraging aggression and that “people here know that.”
The question was followed by another equally skeptical one, asking, “Correa is far from Ecuador and Maduro faces an unprecedented crisis in his country. Do they really have that much power and influence to destabilize?”
Correa himself has mocked Moreno’s theory saying, “The "story" to explain the mass protests of the Ecuadorian people is that I am "destabilizing" the Government from Venezuela. If stupidities paid VAT, they would not have to call the IMF!”
The unrest in Ecuador started last week after the government announced a new neoliberal economic package that would see the fuel subsidies removed. Transport workers then went on a nationwide strike for two days before being joined by several Indigenous movements in the country who began marching to the capital in support of the strike and in rejection of the reforms, while calling for the president's resignation.
While the transport strike was halted after the government agreed to increase public transport prices, the Indigenous movements and social organizations around the country vowed to continue their protests, prompting Moreno to decree a transfer of the seat of the government from the capital Quito to costal Guayaquil city on Sunday.
At least five people have been killed so far in the protests, and Wednesday witnessed one of the most intense clashes between security forces and protesters.