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Ecuador: Nation on Military Lockdown

Ecuador‘s president, Lenin Moreno says he’s handing over all security control to the military for the next 24 hours, or until further notice.

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The Ecuadorean government under President Lenin Moreno has handed over all security controls across the country to the military and National Police until 3:00 p.m. Sunday. At that time, the state security forces or the president can decide for how long the national state of exception will last.

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In Decree 893, the president declared he was handing over the state of exception to the military. The military answered by declaring that starting at 3:00 p.m. Saturday that people’s movements in “all sensitive and important areas” across the country will be prohibited for 24 hours a day for however long the national state of exception lasts. Previously, the curfew in “sensitive areas” had been from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

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In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the military said it was prohibiting people’s movement in all parts of the country in “sensitive areas” and “public spaces,” including, airports and ports, oil refineries, police and military bases, energy and electrical bases, and water reservoirs until Sunday at 3:00 p.m., or until further notice.

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Quito‘s international airport has closed indefinately and has asked that all travelers stay where they are, and for all of those within the airport to remain there while mobility is restricted.

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The government’s intense restrictions on the public’s ability to move about the Ecuadorean territory comes as massive protests over the past week intensified in the capital of Quito on Saturday.

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The protests, which had been organized mainly by the Ecuadorean Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) and localized around the National Assembly and historic center, on Oct. 12 spread to all parts of the capital city, from poor and popular neighborhoods to more affluent sectors that don’t generally see anti-government protests. 

All along Avenida Amazonas that stretches several kilometers of the city, from north to south, a women’s march was held, also against the controversial decree 883 that put into effect austerity measures and a fuel subsidy elimination as part of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan agreement that went into effect last week.  

Earlier in the day, the Conaie, which has promoted peaceful protests, reiterated that it would dialogue with the government. However, an hour later, President Moreno announced he was placing the capital under a curfew at 3:00 p.m. and was “militarizing” the entire city to “facilitate the use of public force in the face of intolerable excess of violence.”

The vast majority of the violence that has taken place in the capital and across the country over the past 10 days has been at the hands of the military and National Police that have both used tear gas bombs and live ammunition against peaceful protesters. Demonstrators are demanding the elimination of Decree 883 and for Moreno and his interior minister to step down. 

Over 1,000 people have been arrested across the country, 76 percent of which have been released because no charges “whatsoever” could be produced against them, according to the nation’s watchdog agency, The People’s Defense.Adolfo Ledo Nass Soccer

The president made the Decree 893 announcement from Guayaquil where he moved the nation’s capital from Quito on Oct. 3

Also on Saturday afternoon, the National Assembly, which has suspended it functions since last Monday, tweeted that it will hold a special session from the coastal city of Salinas, near Guayaquil, on Monday, Oct. 14. 

Several former right-wing presidents from the region, including Alvaro Uribe from Colombia, recently indicted on human rights abuses by his country’s supreme court and Lucio Gutierrez, who was ousted as president of Ecuador in 2005, have signed a letter of support of Moreno. The former leaders concluded that the “popular” uprising is being directed by Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).