Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has declared a national two-month state of emergency over civil unrest in the country following a decision to eliminate fuel subsidies, media reported.
On Tuesday, the Ecuadorian government announced that it would be eliminating fuel subsidies as part of a deal reached with the International Monetary Fund in February to obtain a $4.2 billion loan.
On Thursday, after the measure went into effect, violent protests erupted nationwide, with taxi, bus, and truck drivers blocking roads and bridges in Quito and clashing with police.
According to the president’s decree, as cited by the El Telegrafo news outlet, the 60-day state of emergency, which also went into effect on Thursday, allows the government to mobilise security forces and invoke extraordinary measures to address the civil unrest.
Later on Friday, Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said, as cited by the El Universo news outlet, that at least 195 people, 150 of which were in detention in the country’s most populous city of Guayaquil, had been arrested in the protests.
Additionally, 21 police officers had been injured since Thursday in the protests.
On Wednesday, Economy Minister Richard Martinez said that the government hoped that the fuel measure, which is expected to more than double gas prices, would save the Latin American country about $2.27 billion a year.
Ecuador’s economy is suffering from a heavy debt burden of about $3.6 billion, which grew under previous leadership.