Number of People Detained in Ecuador Protests Climbs to 570 - Presidential Aide

Number of People Detained in Ecuador Protests Climbs to 570 - Presidential Aide

Scores of protesters could be seen inside the national assembly building in videos posted to social media on Tuesday, some waving flags at the chamber's podium, with others chanting slogans against President Lenin Moreno, who has come under fire over a series of spending cuts and other austerity moves linked to an International Monetary Fund loan deal signed in March.

The protesters were moving in caravans to join a mass demonstration starting on Wednesday against a presidential decree released on October 1 that scrapped fuel subsidies, raising the prices of gasoline and diesel.

Moreno said Monday that Ecuador's government faces security threats and will operate from the port city of Guayaquil instead of Quito, the capital.

Protesters seized some oil installations and the state oil company, Petroecuador, warned that production losses could reach 165,000 barrels a day, or almost one-third of total production, if insecurity continues. Ecuador, which exited the OPEC worldwide oil cartel last week citing economic constraints, normally produces 531,000 barrels per day.

Thousands of indigenous demonstrators were converged on the highland capital, Quito, and were planning to march on the heavily guarded presidential palace on Tuesday.

Moreno on Tuesday tried to head off Wednesday's planned protest by offering to hold talks with "the indigenous brothers". Numerous demonstrators come from poor and indigenous communities across Ecuador, where the spending cuts have taken the highest toll, particularly the elimination of fuel subsidies.

They were using "indigenous groups, taking advantage of their mobilization to plunder and destroy", he charged.

Among those detained was a Congress member who supports Moreno's predecessor Rafael Correa, said, Roldan.

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"There are groups bent on causing chaos and confrontation, endangering democratic order", the government said in a statement.

All seven countries have right-wing governments that see Moreno's moderate socialist administration as an important regional ally against Venezuela.

Moreno accused political opponents of orchestrating an attempted coup and blamed associates of Correa of infiltrating the protests as part of a plot to topple his government, without providing evidence. "Conflicts in democracy are resolved at the polls", the Belgium-based Correa said in a video published on social media.

Indigenous protesters occupied two water treatment plants in the city of Ambato, south of the capital, raising concern about supply to residents, according to municipal authorities.

"We have shown throughout Ecuador's history that Indigenous peoples have the power to shut down the country when our rights are put at risk and power is abused", the groups said in a statement.

They were lifted last Tuesday as part of a $4.2bn loan deal with the International Monetary Fund reached past year that hinges on belt-tightening reforms.

In his speech on Monday evening, Mr Moreno said the protests were "not a manifestation of social discontent in protest of a government decision".

Ecuador's economy is in debt for about $3.6 billion, due to the previous leadership.

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