President of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso has announced a 10 per cent reduction in price of gasoline and gasoil following weeks of demonstrations over soaring food and fuel prices by Ecuadorians.
“I have decided to reduce the price of gasoline by 10 cents per gallon and diesel also by 10 cents per gallon,” he said in a televised address on Sunday, 26 June, 2022.
Indigenous leaders have organized protests that have stopped transport and paralyzed parts of Ecuador for weeks.
The protest leaders have been demanding gasoline price be lowered by 30 cents and diesel price by 35 cents.
However, the reduction announced by the president is far less than what protesters have demanded.
The demonstrations, which began on June 13 and are centered on the capital, Quito, have drawn in an estimated 14,000 protesters.
Clashes between police and demonstrators have left at least six dead and scores injured.
Blocked roads have led to fuel and food shortages in the capital.
The demonstrations have also paralyzed transport and disrupted Ecuador’s vital petroleum industry.
Indigenous groups have demanded a halt to oil and mining projects and demonstrators have entered flower farms and oil fields, with some facilities reporting damage to equipment.
“Oil production is at a critical level. If this situation continues, the country’s oil production will be suspended in less than 48 hours as vandalism, the seizure of oil wells and road closures have prevented the transport of equipment and diesel needed to keep operations going,” the country’s Energy Ministry said in a statement earlier on Sunday.
The ministry earlier said that oil production has fallen by more than half because of road blockades and vandalism linked to the protest.
The public oil sector, private producers of flowers and dairy products, tourism and other businesses have lost about $500 million due to the protests, the Ministry of Production said.
Amid the unrest, lawmakers are debating whether to remove Lasso from office, but have so far failed to garner enough support for his ouster.
On Sunday, parliament debated for over seven hours, with proceedings set to resume on Tuesday.
An impeachment would require 92 out of 137 possible votes. Lawmakers will have a maximum of 72 hours to vote following the end of the debate.
Lasso has already met with leaders of the groups organizing protests, and has announced subsidized fertilizers and debt waivers.
The president on Sunday also lifted a state of emergency that had been imposed in six provinces.
“Everyone considers that gas prices have become the cornerstone of maintaining the conflict and though we as a government are very clear that this factor isn’t the origin of Ecuadorians problems, we must think of the common good and citizens’ peace,” Lasso said.