from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On May 21, residents of the northern Ecuadoran provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana began an open-ended civic strike to demand improvements to roads, schools, housing and health care in the region, which borders on Colombia and Peru. The protesters seized 114 oil wells on nine fields operated by the state-run oil company Petroecuador and blocked access roads to oil facilities, forcing a shutdown of drilling and repair work.

As the strike continued on May 25, President Alfredo Palacio declared a 60-day state of emergency in Sucumbios and Orellana, deeming the oil region a “security territory.” The state of emergency allows the restriction of certain civil rights. (La Jornada, Mexico, May 25; AP, May 26)

Late on May 25, after the government signed an agreement promising to address their demands, the protesters ended their strike and left the oil fields. Under the terms of the agreement, Petroecuador and other state agencies must finance roads and electricification projects in the region. The state of emergency remains in effect. (AP, Reuters, May 26)

On May 24, Palacio outlined a six-point plan for restoring stability in Ecuador over the next 18 months with a call for “a great national accord.” The proposed steps include calling a “People’s Assembly” to define an agenda of change; the assembly’s proposals would then be put to a referendum, and in the same election, representatives would be chosen for a constitutional assembly. Palacio became president on April 20 after mass protests forced the ouster of Lucio Gutierrez from office. (LJ, May 25, 26, from wire services)

The National Federation of Campesino, Indigenous and Black Organizations (FENOCIN) and other grassroots organizations in Ecuador are planning protests during the 10th round of negotiations over a free trade treaty (TLC) with the US, Colombia and Peru, scheduled for June 6-19 in Guayaquil. Grassroots groups are demanding that Palacio suspend the TLC negotiations and instead call a referendum on the trade pact. (El Comercio, Peru, May 28, from EFE)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 29

Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also WW4 REPORT #109


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, June 10, 2005
Reprinting permissible with attribution