Nelson Proaño, the head of Ecuador’s armed forces, described as a “terrorist act” the deadly attack on Tuesday against a convoy transporting fuel in the Amazon region of the country. The attack, which caused the death of a solder, happened on the 16th day of protests called by radical leftist groups that ask the government to control the price of goods.
Proaño said that due to the indigenous mobilizations, which have affected the normal fuel supply, the armed forces, together with the federal police and the public company Petroecuador articulated “the transfer of 17 diesel tankers from the Shushufindi town to the ITT oil block to maintain the production of the hydrocarbon system and avoid its collapse.”
Who Is Behind the Protests?
On Sunday, the Ministry of Energy and Mines warned that, due to the closure of roads and acts of vandalism in the wells, registered in the framework of the indigenous protests, the production of oil, the main export product of the Andean country, would be stopped in two days.
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In a statement to the press at the Ministry of Defense, Proaño said that in the early hours of Tuesday, “armed groups acting against the law blocked and attacked military and police personnel with firearms.”
In the incident, one soldier died and seven other members of the Army were wounded, as well as five policemen, who have been evacuated by air, he said, pointing out that during the incident a Petroecuador truck was also set on fire.
“The Armed Forces of Ecuador energetically reject these terrorist acts, carried out by armed groups acting against the law, and also express their solidarity with the families of our deceased and with those wounded in this violent attack, which mourns the military institution and the country,” he stated.
And he added that they will proceed to execute the pertinent judicial actions: “We demand from the justice authorities and the Prosecutor’s Office an immediate action to investigate this terrorist act and identify those responsible for these acts so that they do not remain unpunished,” he said.
“The Armed Forces, in the face of these terrorist actions, will continue to act firmly and decisively, fiercely united to confront these violent groups to recover the peace and security of the nation, using the instruments provided for in the Constitution and the laws to protect the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens,” he concluded.
Previously, the Interior Minister, Patricio Carrillo, had already confirmed on Twitter the death of the soldier.
The Government Reacts to the Attack
“My solidarity with the family of Jose Chimarro, a serviceman killed early this morning by violent demonstrators who attacked a convoy carrying fuel and clashed with the Armed Forces and Police in Shushufindi,” Carrillo wrote.
Last week there was also an attack on a convoy of soldiers who were clearing the road for trucks carrying supplies to enter the Ecuadorian capital. Seventeen soldiers were wounded in that attack and army vehicles were destroyed.
The death of the soldier is added to five other deaths that have occurred in the context of the protests, in which some 400 people have been reported wounded between demonstrators and the forces of law and order.
The protests have been characterized by the blocking of highways, roadblocks and the concentration of thousands of members of indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito.
The new event occurs at a time when the Government and Leonidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE), the main organizer of the protests, and other leftist leaders, plan to begin a second day of negotiations to address the demands of the demonstrators.
It also occurs on the day when the National Assembly (Parliament) will resume the debate on a petition for the impeachment of the head of state, Guillermo Lasso, raised by the bench related to former leftist president Rafael Correa (2007-2017.)
The left demands the fulfillment of a list of ten requests, among them that fuel prices be reduced and frozen, that prices of necessities be controlled, that state-owned companies not be privatized and that oil and mining activity in the Amazon not be expanded.