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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Protests in Ecuador continue-State of emergency declared

The state of Ecuador has declared a state of emergency in response to the continuing protests by Indigenous Peoples.

Ecuador: Protests Against Free Trade Reach Critical Juncture
Written by Cyril Mychalejko
Wednesday, 22 March 2006
The Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, March 21 after countrywide protests and roadblocks led by indigenous peasants intensified.

Protesters are demanding that President Alfredo Palacio end negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, which are scheduled to resume on Thursday in Washington. They also demanded the government expel U.S. oil company Occidental from the country. The protests are in their tenth day and growing stronger, despite headlines in the U.S. media over the weekend suggesting that they were "losing steam" and "fading."

Palacio has accused protesters of trying to "destabilize democracy" and of using "deceptive politics that seek to perversely tear apart the nation."

And although the protesters seek to protect, not destabilize democracy, they may very well destabilize Palacio’s already fragile interim government. His administration has been struggling to contain protests and strikes in the oil producing Amazon region over the last few months. Protesters shut down two oil-pumping stations in February, demanding that the government spend more on social programs and infrastructure projects. Ecuador uses less than 8 percent of its GDP on social programs. complete article

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