Ecuador: general strike in Galápagos

Flights to the Galápagos islands were canceled June 12 and Ecuadoran soldiers fired tear gas to clear roadblocks as residents staged a nine-hour general strike to protest cost-cutting legislation that will cut subsidies they call essential to meet high living costs in the remote territory. The strike effectively shut down the two main islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal. Protests in the archipelago have been mounting since June 8, when Ecuador's National Assembly overturned the 1978 Special Regime Ordinance for Galápagos Province, giving public employees on the islands a wage subsidy that effectively doubled their salaries. Under the reform, the 25,000 inhabitants of the islands, which lie 600 miles from Ecuador's coast, also lose the right to fly free of charge to and from the mainland. (El Universo, June 13; Ecuador InmediatoAP, June 12; El Comercio, June 11)