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Protests shut Ecuador major oilfield during fuel hike crisis

Rodrigo Buendia/AFP

Ecuador warns of coup attempt as demonstrators clash with riot police during a transport strike over President Lenin Moreno's end of fuel subsidies.

- Congress, oil production facility attacked in violent protests
- President Moreno governing from second city Guayaquil

By Stephan Kueffner / Bloomberg

Petroleumworld 10 08 2019

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno accused his political opponents of attempting a coup as the government moved outside the capital amid violence triggered by the ending of fuel subsidies last week.

In a national address, Moreno said he was moving the executive branch to the port city of Guayaquil due to security threats. The president said that allies of his predecessor Rafael Correa had infiltrated the demonstrations in a bid to overthrow his government, without providing evidence.

During the fourth night of a state-of-emergency, protesters in the capital Quito caused minor damage to Ecuador's congressional building and violently entered the comptroller general's office across the street. Rioters also attacked an oil production facility, a major dairy, dozens of rose plantations and burned police and military vehicles as security forces struggled to contain the violence. Moreno reiterated that he won't reinstate the fuel subsidies.

In the Amazon region, demonstrators entered facilities of the Sacha oilfield, prompting authorities to shut down production there and causing the loss of 70,000 of Ecuador's 550,000 barrel-a-day oil output.

Parts of central Ecuador again were cut off from television and radio service as demonstrators seized repeater antennas. Indigenous communities continue to block numerous main roads in the Andean region, home to half the nation's 17 million residents. Cuenca, the third-largest city, is receiving supplies by air.

The elimination of the gasoline and diesel subsidies, which cost close to $1.4 billion annually, was welcomed by the International Monetary Fund and Moody's Investors Service. Ecuador's Business Committee recommended mediation by the Catholic Bishops' Conference to resolve the crisis.

In a post on Twitter, Correa said that Moreno “is finished” and called for elections.

Story byStephan Kueffner from Bloomberg. / 10 07 2019


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