Protests in Ecuador: Situational Assessment

Protests over the last two weeks have brought Ecuador to a standstill. Protesters have blocked roads and staged mass rallies that have caused massive disruptions. In response, President Lasso has vowed to knock 10 cents off every gallon of fuel and diesel. Although, this is a much lower concession that protesters demanded. [source] The country, which used to be a member of OPEC, may be forced to stop oil production in the coming days because protests have been so destructive to Ecuador’s infrastructure. [source]

President Lasso has repeatedly stated that any violence or vandalisation will have consequences. However, Lasso’s position is far from certain. His parliamentary opposition began a debate with the aim of removing Lasso from power. The outcome of which will happen this week.

Key Judgement 1: It is highly likely protests in Ecuador will continue until the government meet their demands.

  • Protests began on 13th of June 2022 when indigenous members of CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon) from across Ecuador converged on Quito to demand economic and social change. [source]

  • Rising inflation, unemployment, and poverty are disproportionately affecting indigenous communities, a situation made worse by the pandemic. [source]

  • Ecuador has high levels of violence, as well as high debt and unemployment, exacerbating tensions in the population who demand that the government find a solution. [source]

  • Lasso has met with CONAIE representatives after he ceased the state of emergency. The dialogue is far from conclusion with the only concession being 10 cents off every gallon of fuel. [source] However, fuel prices will remain high if oil production completely ceases. [source]

  • Lasso had promised to fight crime and rebuild the economy through investments. However, few investors are willing to invest when insecurity is high, and political confidence in Lasso is low. [source]

Key Judgement 2: It is highly likely that the violence and human rights violations will continue. 

  • CONAIE have stated that they will not halt the demonstrations until their demands are met. [source]

  • The government has said it will fight against the protesters who are trying to undermine the country’s democratic values. [source]

  • Ecuadorian security forces are perpetrating human rights violations. There are reports of harassment, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment, and criminalisation of protesters, journalists and human rights defenders. [source]

  • Human rights violations in October 2019 have still gone unpunished and this trend will likely be followed after these protests have reached their conclusion. [source]

  • Since the start of the protests, two people have died and more than 100 have been injured. The police have arrested 79 people. Security forces have been using tear gas and non-lethal projectiles but there are reports of some security personnel using buckshot against the protesters. [source]

Key Judgement 3: It is highly likely President Lasso will either have to meet protesters’ demands, or will resign. 

  • There is history of CONAIE protests leading to the resignation of presidents. Between 1997 and 2005, the group forces three presidents to resign after holding protests. Three years ago, Lenin Moreno had to backtrack on raising fuel prices due to similar protests. [source]

  • A hike in prices and privatisation of public services has angered Ecuador’s population, who are struggling to afford the cost of living. Since 2020, fuel prices in Ecuador have risen by almost a dollar. The cost of food is also high leaving people hungry and malnourished. [source]

  • Lasso has agreed to some of the protesters’ demands but this is not enough for the protesters. Lasso is trying to rejuvenate Ecuador’s economy after difficulties during the pandemic which is limiting his ability to accept demands. [source] This renovation of the economy will only worsen if oil productions stops. [source]

  • The protests have spread, with students, labourers and poor people joining the indigenous protests in 6 regions. The goal has also evolved from wanting price reductions and better security measures to the resignation of Lasso. [source]

  • The president has said he will continue to look for a solution and will not succumb to the protesters’ demands for his job. His position is difficult with lawmakers making the passing of bills and legislations very difficult. [source] Lasso’s opposition started a debate about releasing Lasso from office. It is said that the debate will conclude this week. [source]

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 20th of June 2022

Nicholas Fullick
Nicholas Fullick
Nicholas is a graduate in Portuguese and Spanish from Cardiff University. He is currently studying a Master's in Intelligence and Security Studies from Brunel University with hopes of starting a career in intelligence. His research focus is on South and Central America. https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-fullick-3b1780232/

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