The Ecuadorian justice ordered this Wednesday the immediate release of the indigenous leader, Leonidas Izawho is accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of paralyzing the public transport service by blocking roads during anti-government protests, which continue for the third consecutive day.
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“The judge ordered the immediate release and that he appear periodically before the Prosecutor’s Office” while the trial begins, Raúl Ilaquiche, who is part of the team that defends Iza, president of the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), said by telephone.
(You might be interested in: Ecuador: who is Leonidas Iza, indigenous leader arrested in the protests?)
The Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the ruling on its Twitter account and noted that the justice system recognized the “flagrant arrest” of Iza, who was given alternative measures to jail for “alleged paralysis of a public service.”
This crime is punishable by up to three years in prison in Ecuador.
Iza leads the demonstrations against the government of conservative President Guillermo Lasso in which indigenous people demand reductions in fuel prices and the renegotiation of the peasants’ debts with the banks.
🔴 #ATTENTION | First statements by Leonidas Iza, after recovering his freedom. “No one has come out to defy the Law. We have only come out because hunger and injustice have taken over our homes.” pic.twitter.com/4B5KZSNxBM
– Radio Pichincha (@radio_pichincha) June 15, 2022
The organization, which between 1997 and 2005 participated in revolts that overthrew three rulers, also protests the lack of employment and the granting of mining concessions in aboriginal territories, and demands price controls on agricultural products.
“We keep up the fight, we are not going to take away anyone’s right, we simply hope that the rights that are being violated are also heard,” Iza said after being released.
The leader was in a military base in the Andean city of Latacunga (south) and was released an hour after the hearing ended.
“A lot of strength, we are not going to be demoralized,” Iza said, according to a transmission made through Facebook by Conaie.
The leader was received by some supporters with hugs. “Long live the fight” and “Long live the strike” they exclaimed with joy. An indigenous woman approached Iza and performed a “clean” on her, which consists of passing plants considered medicinal over her body.
Native peoples make up at least one million of the 17.7 million Ecuadorians.
‘The mobilization continues’
Iza, who was arrested early Tuesday, is prohibited from leaving the country and must appear before the Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesdays and Fridays until July 4, when his trial will begin, said the independent Justice Observatory that followed the hearing held virtually.
The arrest of the leader fueled the protests, which left patrol cars on fire, journalists attacked, police detained and oil wells paralyzed.
In Quito, protesters burned a patrol car and in the Amazon forced the shutdown of wells owned by the Chinese oil company PetroOriental, which estimated losses
of 1,400 barrels per day (bd).
After his arrest, hundreds of protesters arrived on foot and in trucks on Tuesday to the Prosecutor’s Office in Latacunga to demand the detention, which Conaie considers “violent, arbitrary and illegal.”
Early this Wednesday on the outskirts of Quito the demonstrations continued. A long line of trucks and some burning tires blocked access to the city.
We want to “raise our voice and that the authorities listen to all the needs that we are going through at the moment due to the economic situation,” he told a 50-year-old heavy cargo carrier who preferred not to be identified.
In addition to Iza, authorities have reported four other detainees. The Conaie celebrated the
liberation of its maximum leader.
“After 24 hours of illegal detention and due to social pressure in the framework of the #ParoNacional, the judge orders his immediate release,” he said on Twitter, adding that “the mobilization continues.”
Lasso denounced through a video that on Monday, when the demonstrations began, there were “acts of vandalism” such as invasions of agricultural producers and the attack on an oil pumping facility in the Amazon jungle.
In his speech he emphasized: “Those who commit acts of vandalism are going to answer to the
For his part, the Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, said in a press conference that the “strategy” of the protesters is to “paralyze, loot, kidnap, attack,”
in such a way that “disorder, chaos, vandalism is what generates social unrest before a government that tries to generate opportunities for Ecuadorians.”
*With information from AFP
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