Ecuador’s president temporarily moved the government’s office from the capital Quito to the western port city of Guayaquil amid ongoing protests enflamed by the elimination of fuel subsidies.
Addressing to the public, Lenin Moreno said late on Monday in a joint broadcast that he would not back down on the decision as protests continued to escalate.
“Looting and vandalism are not citizen manifestations,” he said, blaming his predecessor Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for destabilizing Ecquador in an “organized political move”.
Correa’s office rejected the allegations in a statement, while Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, Maduro’s U.S.-backed rival, threw his support behind Moreno, accusing Maduro for being responsible for the unrest.
“While President @Lenin Moreno works to maintain and strengthen the Republic and institutions of Ecuador, a group financed by Maduro’s accomplices in America, taking advantage of the most vulnerable, seeks to end the country’s stability,” Guaido said on twitter.
Moreno declared a two-month state of emergency Thursday amid protests over the end of decades-old fuel subsidies, as part of a $2 billion government reform package.
A nationwide strike by transport workers and taxi drivers against the elimination of the subsidies by the government Tuesday, as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to obtain loans, led to protests and violence.
The president said his Cabinet was determined not to change course on “those perverse subsidies that were damaging the country.”
Ecuador has seen numerous street protests in the past, forcing the resignation of three presidents.