Ecuador president: Indigenous leader is trying to stage coup

Ecuador_Protests_51566 Indigenous demonstrators gather at the Casa de la Cultura, during protests against President Guillermo Lasso's economic policies and demanding a fuel price cut, in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, June 23, 2022. Demonstrators had been blocked by the police from reaching the Casa de la Cultura until today when the broke through their lines.
Ecuador_Protests_48472 A demonstrator hurls a tear gas canister back at police during protests against President Guillermo Lasso's economic policies and demanding a fuel price cut, in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, June 23, 2022.
Ecuador_Protests_39677 Protesters protesters march against President Guillermo Lasso's economic policies and demanding a fuel price cut in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, June 23, 2022.
Ecuador_Protests_04831 Demonstrators build a barricade during protests against President Guillermo Lasso's economic policies and a demand to cut fuel prices, in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022.
Ecuador_Protests_62975 Demonstrators look out from a barricade of tree branches during protests against President Guillermo Lasso's economic policies and a demand to cut fuel prices, in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022.
Ecuador_Protests_29901 Demonstrators march with makeshift shields during protests against President Guillermo Lasso's economic policies and a demand to cut fuel prices, in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022.
Ecuador_Protests_81140 A demonstrator holds a sign with a message that reads in Spanish: "I am fighting against the pigs for you my love", during protests against President Guillermo Lasso's economic policies and a demand to cut fuel prices, in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022.
Ecuador_Protests_71062 A police officer launches tear gas at protesters in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. Protesters who are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14, are demanding that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_95801 Protesters take cover during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_13072 Police take cover during clashes with protesters in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. Protesters who are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14, are demanding that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_34147 Protesters take cover behind makeshift shields during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
APTOPIX_Ecuador_Protests_57428 A protester returns a tear gas canister during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_07655 Protesters take cover during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_65269 Protesters take refuge behind makeshift shields during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_52052 Protesters take refuge behind makeshift shields during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_13563 A protester returns a tear gas canister during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_35505 A protester returns a tear gas canister during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_07643 Protesters take refuge behind makeshift shields and a barricade during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_12124 Protesters take refuge behind makeshift shields during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_98118 Protesters take refuge behind makeshift shields during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_46937 Protesters take refuge behind shields and a barricade during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_00091 Protesters take refuge behind makeshift shields during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_34217 A protester take cover from tear gas during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
Ecuador_Protests_28099 Protesters take refuge behind shields and a barricade during clashes with police in downtown Quito, Ecuador, Friday, June 24, 2022. The protesters are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut, price controls for agricultural products and a larger budget for education.
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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador’s president charged Friday that the Indigenous leader heading a nationwide strike is seeking to stage a coup and warned he will use all legal tools to contain the violence unleashed by the demonstrations.

In televised remarks, President Guillermo Lasso said Leonidas Iza, leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, intends to “overthrow the government.” But Lasso added that he was willing to engage in talks on ending protests that were in their 13th day.

“It is proven that the true intention of the violent (people) is to generate a coup and that is why we call on the international community to warn of this attempt to destabilize democracy in Ecuador,” Lasso said. “… Mr. Iza can no longer control the situation. The violence perpetrated by infiltrated criminals has got out of hand.”

The demonstrations are part of a national strike that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities began June 14 to demand that gasoline prices be cut by 45 cents a gallon to $2.10, price controls be imposed on agricultural products and a larger budget be set for education. Protests have been especially violent in six provinces in the north-central part of the South American country.

The confederation on Thursday said a demonstrator died of pellet wounds in the chest and abdomen while protesting near the National Assembly in Quito, where about 100 other people suffered a variety of injuries. Police tweeted that officers were also injured by pellets.

Marlon Santi, the coordinator of the confederation’s political wing known as Pachaktik, demanded in a video on social media that the government meet the Indigenous demands because “we are convinced this is the spirit of our struggle.”

He called on protesters to return to places of peace and safety so as not to “put their lives in danger. They have the power, the power of arms and economic power; we have the power of reason and dignity.”

Lawmakers from the Union por la Esperanza caucus, which is linked to former President Rafael Correa, on Friday began a legislative process seeking Lasso’s removal, but it does not have the necessary votes as other caucuses have rejected the move. It would take the votes of at least 92 lawmakers to remove Lasso, while Union has only 47 seats.

In Quito, protesters blocking roads have brought the city to a near halt and people are experiencing food and fuel shortages. Production Minister Julio José Prado said nearly 600 private vehicles and food-carrying trucks are trapped in Nanegalito, a community about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Quito.

Groups of protesters have roamed the city attacking vehicles and civilians and forcing the closure of businesses, some of which were looted. They have also punctured the tires of buses, forcing passengers to walk.

Lasso urged Indigenous people and peasants “who have been brought to Quito with deception” to return to their communities for their own safety. He added that human rights groups should scrutinize the situation, which he said has violated the rights of security forces, citizens and journalists.

Human Rights International said four of its staff members were physically attacked and robbed Thursday while “carrying out research and verification work on the protests” in Quito.

“We reject these actions, and we call for dialogue,” the group tweeted.

The situation prompted several embassies, including those of Germany, Britain, Canada and the U.S., to issue a public statement expressing concerns about “the fundamental rights of all citizens.” It called for the parties to negotiate and reach “concrete agreements.”

The U.S. State Department issued an advisory Wednesday warning travelers about the widespread protests.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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