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As US Secretary of State Colin Powell and foreign ministers from 33 other countries gathered in Quito, Ecuador, for the general assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) on June 8, hundreds of Indians, campesinos and workers marched through the city to protest Plan Colombia and the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, and demand the resignation of President Lucio Gutierrez. As protesters approached Quito's Hotel Swiss where the foreign ministers were gathered, thousands of police and soldiers barred their way, hurling tear gas to clear the streets.

Protesters also repeatedly blocked the Panamerican Highway north of Quito. In a game of cat-and-mouse, protesters regrouped elsewhere on the highway after police broke their roadblocks, dragging boulders across the thoroughfare.

The protests were coordinated by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), whose leader Leonidas Iza said he wanted OAS delegates to "see there is hunger, there is deep poverty, there is corruption" in Ecuador.

Small pamphlet bombs also exploded in three cities--three in Quito; three in Cuenca; and one in Guayaquil. The pamphlets, issued by the People's Combat Group (GCP), attacked the OAS for acquiescing in the "expansion of imperialism." No injuries were reported.

Gutierrez would not have won election in a November 2002 runoff without the support of CONAIE. The indigenous coalition broke with him last year over charges of corruption and his privatization policies, and his former Indian allies are now determined to force him from office with massive street protests. (ANNCOL, June 8; AP, June 9 )

The day before the OAS summit opened, a group of campesinos from a zone near the Colombian border staged a brief occupation of the Colombian embassy in Quito, spraying the building with glyphosate. The campesinos charge that Colombian aerial fumigation flights have repeatedly sprayed glyphosate on their lands in Ecuador. (ANNCOL, June 6)

See Also WW3 REPORT #96

(Bill Weinberg)


Special to WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, June 12, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Reprinting permissible with attribution.