Left-wing organizations in Latin America have paid foreigners up to $50 to participate in riots against President Lenín Moreno’s administration in Ecuador, the country’s vice president claimed on Wednesday.
The riots began as a response by transportation workers and trade unions to several economically conservative reforms imposed by President Moreno, including repeal of a decades-old government gasoline subsidy.
However, there is now increasing evidence that the demonstrations have since morphed into widespread riots funded and backed by the socialist regime in Venezuela, and other left-wing entities. At least one man was killed after fellow protesters blocked an ambulance from reaching her.
Ecuador's president declares state of emergency following nationwide protests over elimination of fuel subsidies that have been in place for 40 years pic.twitter.com/myFZnbazI4
— TRT World (@trtworld) October 4, 2019
Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner told reporters that authorities have arrested a “significant number of foreign citizens” over the past week, many of whom confessed to having been paid between 40 and 50 dollars for participating in the riots that have forced the government into declaring a 60-day state of emergency, recently reduced to 30 days.
“We must emphasize the fact that in the demonstrations, we have arrested a significant number of infiltrating foreign citizens,” he said. “Foreign citizens who in their testimonies have admitted to receiving money between $40 and $50 for attending these demonstrations.”
“Intelligence authorities are working at identifying those responsible, many of who we have already identified. We have already made several arrests and will continue to identify foreign citizen who are causing chaos, violence, crime in Ecuador,” he continued.
— Gabriel Bastidas (@Gbastidas) October 9, 2019
Sonnenholzner also made a less than subtle reference to the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have fled to Ecuador to flee the political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in their homeland led by Nicolás Maduro’s socialist dictatorship.
“Ecuador is a peaceful country that has been hospitable with hundreds of thousands of foreigners,” he said. “Those who do not comply with the laws of the country and who upset Ecuadorians will not be able to stay in Ecuador and we will sanction them with the full weight of the law and we will do everything in our power to initiate deportations of those engaging this type of behavior.”
▶️Protesters in Quito, Ecuador, clashed with riot police, Wednesday, October 9. At one point, a crowd of protesters were seen running down the street trying to get away from intense clouds of tear gas being fired by riot policemen.https://t.co/Odo09fYMNn pic.twitter.com/saFAswHobK
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) October 10, 2019
“We have to do it, we have to send out a message that this sort of activity will not be tolerated,” he added.
Seven Latin American countries and the Organization of American States (OAS) issued statements on Wednesday expressing their support for Moreno’s reforms, while also accusing Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro of helping instigate riots against him.
In a joint statement, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Peru affirmed they “manifest their sound rejection against all destabilizing attempts against legitimately constituted democratic regimes and express their firm support for the actions taken by President Lenín Moreno.”
“We also reject all actions intended to destabilize our democracies on the part of the Nicolás Maduro regime and those who seek to extend the influence of his nefarious government project to the democratic countries of the region,” the statement added.