Ecuador police arrest protest leader Leonidas Iza
After a day of protests calling for lower fuel costs, police in Ecuador arrested the leader of the country’s largest indigenous group.
Leonidas Iza of the Confederation of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) was detained near Quito, police announced in a tweet.
They didn’t say what charges he was facing, demonstrators set up barriers across Ecuador on Monday in protest at the government policies.
To cut off access to Quito, highways around the country were blocked with heaps of burning tires, trees, and earth mounds.
The protesters’ list of demands includes reducing the cost of fuel and price caps on agricultural goods.
Ecuador is now experiencing escalating inflation, unemployment, and poverty levels. Since 2020, the price of diesel has nearly doubled, while the price of gasoline has risen dramatically.
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Ecuador’s government and the international Monetary Fund secured a $6.5 billion (£5.3 billion) financing contract, which is set to expire later this year.
The police said Mr. Iza had been arrested In Pastocalle, about 20km (12 miles) south of Quito, on suspicion of unspecified “offenses”
Pastocalle has been at the forefront of Conaie’s demonstrations. Mr. Iza was being held in custody for a court appearance, according to the police.
On Monday, Mr. Iza said the demonstrations would continue until President Guillermo Lasso responds to the group’s requests. Conaie confirmed Mr. Iza’s arrest and called for a “radicalization” of the demonstrations in response.