Ecuador: Indigenous leader is arrested over violent protests

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A protester stands between a burning barricade of tires blocking a highway on the second day of nationwide demonstrations against the government of Guillermo Lasso called mainly by Indigenous organizations, in Cotopaxi, Ecuador, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. The protesters are asking for an increase in the health and education budgets, among other demands. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

QUITO – Authorities in Ecuador arrested the leader of a national Indigenous group on Tuesday, alleging that he was responsible for violence during anti-government protests.

Leónidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, was arrested in Pastocalle, in the Andean center of the country, according to police.

The confederation had called for protests to demand a reduction in the price of gasoline, the setting of a minimum price for agricultural products and a moratorium on the extension of mining and oil projects.

Suspected protesters recently destroyed police vehicles, attacked and damaged private vehicles, broke into private flower farms in the center of the country, and destroyed public property in the center of the capital, authorities said.

Iza had also called on followers to topple the government of President Guillermo Lasso.

“The arrests of the masterminds and perpetrators of these violent acts have begun,” Lasso said. “Now it’s up to the prosecution and the judiciary to act, because no one is above the law.”