Quito, Ecuador — President Lenín Moreno and leaders of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples struck a deal late Sunday to cancel a disputed austerity package and end nearly two weeks of protests that have paralyzed the economy and left seven dead.
Under the agreement announced just before 10 p.m. after what the Reuters news service said were three hours of televised talks, Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package known as Decree 883 that included a sharp rise in fuel prices. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades. “Comrades, a deal is compromise on both sides,” Moreno said. “The indigenous mobilization will end and Decree 883 will be lifted.”The two sides said they would work together to develop a new package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenues and reduce Ecuador’s unsustainable budget deficits and public debt.
“The moment of peace, of agreement, has come for Ecuador,” said Arnaud Peral, the United Nations’ resident coordinator in Ecuador and one of the mediators of the nationally televised talks, which started about 6 p.m. “This deal is an extraordinary step.”Celebrations followed the announcement in Quito, with cars honking their horns and fireworks going off, Reuters reported. Wearing the feathered headdress and face paint of the Achuar people of the Amazon rain forest, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, thanked Moreno and demanded improved long-term conditions for indigenous Ecuadorians.”We want peace for our brothers and sisters in this country,” Vargas said. “We don’t want more repression.”Protests over the austerity package have blocked roads, shuttered businesses from dairies to flower farms and halved Ecuador’s oil production, forcing a temporary halt to the country’s most important export.In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other’s willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break.Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defense ministers over their handling of the protests.