275 People Arrested in Ecuador as Fuel Subsidy Cut Protests Continue Amid State of Emergency

© REUTERS / STRINGERDemonstrators clash with riot police during protests after Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno's government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies, in Quito, Ecuador October 3, 2019
Demonstrators clash with riot police during protests after Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno's government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies, in Quito, Ecuador October 3, 2019 - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - 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, the El Telegrafo news outlet reported.

According to the president's decree, as cited by the news outlet, the 60-day state of emergency, which also went into effect on Thursday, allows the government to mobilize security forces and invoke extraordinary measures to address the civil unrest.

By late Thursday, 275 people had been arrested and 28 police officers hurt, the Interior Ministry said.

​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.

​Prior to that, 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.

The measure also includes a reduction of vacation days for public employees, changes to retirement benefits and lower compensation for some contract workers. 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. 

Ecuador's economy is suffering from a heavy debt burden of about $3.6 billion, which grew under previous leadership. Moreno has been adamant about slashing the debt to about $1 billion by 2020. 

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