Ecuador Declares State of Emergency as Violent Protests Sweep Major Cities (VIDEO)

President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno declared a 60-day state of emergency on Thursday after transportation workers and leftist groups began rioting against the repeal of a decades-old government gasoline subsidy.

Moreno ended the subsidy, in vigor for 40 years, as part of an economic plan to reduce government spending in exchange for a large loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Among other reforms, Moreno also announced this week that he would withdraw from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) so that Ecuador would no longer be beholden to that cartel’s production limits, increasing oil supply and thus driving down the price of gasoline without government spending.

Transportation professionals – drivers of buses, taxis, and trucks – led citywide strikes in the capital Quito, and Guayaquil, the nation’s economic hub, to protest the gasoline price increase, which would adversely impact their businesses. The strikes rapidly turned into chaos as protesters threw Molotov cocktails, burned tires, and blocked major roads. Businesses also reported looting and vandalism.

Moreno published a state of emergency decree on Thursday evening.

“Rights are demanded without hurting that which is fundamental for the progress of the nation: work, education, and freedom of mobility,” he wrote on Twitter. “We guarantee citizens’ security, free movement, and protection of their property”:

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