Ecuador’s Lasso survives his attempt to oust him and ends talks with indigenous leader

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Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza speaks during a meeting with protesters ahead of an anti-government protest in a standoff between President Guillermo Lasso’s government and largely indigenous protesters demanding an end to emergency measures, in Quito, Ecuador , June 23, 2022. REUTERS / Karen Toro

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QUITO, June 28 (Reuters) – Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso survived an attempt by opposition MPs to oust him on Tuesday after insisting his government would no longer negotiate with an indigenous leader to end more two weeks of protests.

The protests have been linked to eight deaths and have led to food and medicine shortages and reduced oil production.

“We will not renew the dialogue with Leonidas Iza, who only defends his political interests and not those of his base,” Lasso said, referring to the indigenous leader.

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“To our native brothers – you deserve more than an opportunist for a leader.”

Since June 13, mostly indigenous demonstrators have been marching to protest high fuel and food prices and at least eight people have died in the marches, including a soldier killed early on Tuesday.

Protester roadblocks have led to shortages of food in supermarkets and medical supplies in hospitals.

On Monday, Ecuador‘s total oil production was 234,496 barrels per day (bpd), less than half the output of around 520,000 bpd before the protests.

Lasso’s contentious relationship with Ecuador’s National Assembly soured during the protests, prompting lawmakers from the opposition movement UNES, loyal to leftist former president Rafael Correa, to push a vote calling for his impeachment.

The vote was thrown into chaos as some lawmakers complained of technical issues and it had to be repeated three times.

In the third vote on Tuesday night, 80 of Ecuador’s 137 lawmakers voted to impeach Lasso as president, far short of the 92 votes needed for the measure to succeed.

Lasso said the government made significant concessions to protesters, agreeing to lower gas prices, debt forgiveness and fertilizer subsidies, among other demands.

Iza said on Monday that the price cut was not enough. Read more

Lasso said his government was open to talks but not with Iza.

The country cannot engage in dialogue with those who hold it “hostage”, Lasso added.

He offered his condolences to the family of the soldier who was killed when gunmen attacked a convoy of 17 diesel tankers he was accompanying.

“Only when there are legitimate representatives of all the peoples and ethnicities of Ecuador, who seek real solutions and who are open to real and frank dialogue, will we return to the negotiating table” , said Lasso.

Iza, responding to Lasso, said he would stay at the location of the talks until government officials arrived.

“Mr. President, we have never conditioned who can come to dialogue and who cannot,” he said.

“At the moment, what seems important to me is an attitude of peace, of dialogue, more warlike attitudes,” added Iza, who heads the indigenous organization CONAIE.

Mediators attending the talks said the two sides were close to an agreement.

LOSS OF PRODUCTION

Ecuador’s oil production fell by 1.8 million barrels during the protests, the energy ministry said on Tuesday, as blockages prevented the transport of supplies to oil blocks.

State oil company Petroecuador recorded a reduction of 1.47 million barrels, while private producers lost more than 385,000 barrels, the ministry said in a statement.

“In 15 days, the state stopped receiving $166.4 million in the oil sector. So far, 1,199 wells have been shut down, 85% of which belong to Petroecuador,” the ministry said, adding that the SOTE pipeline was shut down again on Monday due to low crude volumes. and the private OCP pipeline was pumping at 20% capacity, some 92,000 barrels.

The ITT field – the largest in Ecuador – was operating normally and producing more than 52,000 barrels on Monday, according to Petroecuador.

A company source who asked not to be identified said Petroecuador was considering whether to delay exports, but production is unlikely to stop for several days.

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Reporting by Alexandra Valence; Written by Julia Symmes Cobb, Steven Grattan and Oliver Griffin; Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot

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