Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno has declared a state of emergency in response to nationwide protests over fiscal reforms valued over €1.8 billion per year.
Moreno announced the package of reforms on Tuesday; its measures include tax reform, relaxing labor protections and doing away with 40-year-old fuel subsidies. He said the elimination of the fuel subsidies was needed to lift the economy and stop smuggling.
In a television address, Moreno said the price of gasoline would go up to $2.30 a gallon from $1.85 and the cost of diesel up to $2.27 from $1.03.
Moreno also announced that Ecuador would be leaving the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which it is the smallest member, on January 1, 2020 in order to increase its exports beyond the restrictions imposed by the group.
Increased fuel prices went into effect on Thursday, prompting Ecuadorians to take to the streets of the capital, Quito, and Guayaquil, the country’s largest city.
Taxi, bus and truck drivers blocked streets and bus stations were closed for a nationwide transport strike, forcing the government to suspend schools.
Various groups of protesters blocked roads, burned tires and scuffled with police, who responded in certain instances with tear gas.